Researching Corporate Acquisitions

Since writing about Google acquisitions a few months ago, and Yahoo Acquisitions, I’ve received more than a couple of requests from people asking about some strategies and methods for researching corporate acquisitions online.

There are a lot of potential sources of information that you can look at, but a few that you might want to start with first.

1. Web-based searches for reference sites, news articles, blog posts.

It’s possible to find lists of acquisitions on reference sites, on blog posts by people whose companies have been acquired, and through news stories about purchases. Search for things like “Google Acquired” (with the quotation marks) or “Google acquisitions” (again, with the quotation marks). Make a list of all of the companies that you can find that way, and then conduct searches for those companies to see if you can find out more about the acquisitions.

2. Internet Archives

The Wayback Machine at the Internet Archives can sometimes be helpful. A company might have posted a message, or a press release, or some other information before they were assimilated into Google or Yahoo, or some other purchaser. It might be possible to find that information on older versions of the site by looking at their older pages at the Wayback machine.

3. Shareholder and SEC information

If the company doing the acquiring is publicly held, and the acquisition is a significant one, you stand a decent chance of finding information about the acquistiion in Annual Reports, and filings with the Security and Exchange Commission. Google and Yahoo both present that information publicly:

Google Investor Relations – Financial Documents / Filings

Yahoo! Investor Relations

Many other companies also publish their financial information in a section of their site dedicated to corporate or financial information. Sometimes this information is on a different domain or subdomain than their main site.

4. Press Releases

The companies doing the acquiring will sometimes write about the acquistion in a press release. They don’t do this for every acquisition, but if the news may be perceived as positive by the public, they often will.

Google Press Center

Yahoo Media Relations – Press Releases

In addition to press releases from companies doing the purchasing, the companies being acquired may have also written a press release, which may still be on the web.

By the way, the Yahoo press releases reveal a lot about the history of the company, and the many different partnerships, and projects that they have been involved with. Anyone considering writing a book about the company could find those to be a great starting point.

5. Blog posts

Companies like Google and Yahoo are sharing more information recently through their blogs.

Official Google Blog

Yahoo Search Blog

Two of the most recent acquisitions that were made by Google were brought to public attention in blog posts written by people who came to Google through the acquistions.

A new home for @Last Software
Posted by Jeff Martin, Product Marketing Manager

Writely so
Posted by Jen Mazzon, Google Writely Team

Not every company is following the lead of Google and Yahoo in sharing information directly with the public through a blog. But, I think that Google’s approach in having members of the acquired company posting about the move to Google is great. The companies involved in those transactions had a loyal base of users, who cared about the folks who made the software that they were using. From the @ Last Software post:

I was sitting at the breakfast table this morning, drinking a cup of coffee while I looked out at the snow. It was pretty much like any other winter morning, except — it wasn’t. When I went to sleep last night, I was employed by a small start-up called @Last Software. This morning, although I’m going to the same office, sitting at the same desk, and seeing the same people, I’m going to work as a Google employee.

6. Follow the leaders.

If you think a company may have been acquired by a Google or Yahoo, but you aren’t sure, see if you can find out who the key employees of the company were, and search for them. Look at biographies that may have been prepared for speaking engagements, “about us” statements that were written about them for companies that they might have worked for after the acquisition, resumes they’ve posted online, and more.

I remember hearing about a lot of the acquisitions that Google and Yahoo made over the past few years, but never tried to look at all of those pieces together before my blog posts on them. Once I drew all of those connections together, it gave me a completely different perspective of the companies.