The Greatest Acquisitions of All Time

The Greatest Acquisitions of All Time
Inspired by Acquired Podcast, Updated July 2022

10. Marvel (Acquired by Disney for $4.2 billion in 2009)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is the highest-grossing film franchise of all time, with over $27.2 billion in total box office receipts. This come out to $2.1B annually and since Disney earnings about 2 dollars in parks and merchandise revenue for every dollar earned from films, Marvel is estimated to generate $6.3B or nearly 10% of the company's revenue, so the value attributed to it is 10% * $190B, or $19B (return of nearly $15B) (Acquired, 2020).

9. ESPN (Acquired by ABC for $188 million in 1984)

ESPN, regarded by Acquired (2020) as the heavyweight champion and still undisputed G.O.A.T. of media acquisitions, compounded annually within ABC/Disney at >15% for an astounding 35 years. Today, it does a little over $9 billion in revenue and can be valued at $26 billion.

8. Google Maps (Acquired by Google for $70 million in 2004)

The only reliable revenue estimate for Google Maps I found comes from Morgan Stanley, who estimated almost $3B in revenue in 2019 (out of $162B). Conservatively using a similar growth rate as the overall business, Google maps is worth almost $28B today (1.86% of Google's 1.5 trillion market cap).

7. PayPal (Acquired by eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002)

eBay spun off PayPal into a stand-alone public company in July 2015 for $47.1 billion, 31 times what they paid for it in 2002.

6. Booking.com (Acquired by Priceline for $135 million in 2005)

Conservatively attributing only the annual revenue from the company's “Agency Revenues” segment as Booking's contribution to Priceline's market cap yields a $46.69B valuation.

5. Android (Acquired by Google for $50 million in 2005)

Google's 30% cut of Android's $48B Google Play revenues ($14.4B) coupled with the benefits of owning search on Android, estimated at $4.8B by Acquired, yields a $19.2B of revenue and a $112B valuation (a cool 2240X, the highest ROI on the list) (Acquired, 2020).

4. NeXT (Acquired by Apple for $429 million in 1997)

NeXT's operating system, underpins all of Apple's modern operating systems today: MacOS, iOS, WatchOS, and beyond. Acquired (2020) uses a conservative 5% of Apple's market cap and using today's numbers, that yields an estimated value of $126.5B

3. YouTube (Acquired by Google for $1.65 billion in 2006)

YouTube accounts for 11.2% of Google's total revenue, making it worth a staggering $168B. Although, it's worth noting YouTube's economics are yet to be proven with a majority of revenue (over 50%) being paid out to creators as well as significant hosting and bandwidth costs (Acquired, 2020).

2. DoubeClick (Acquired by Google for $3.1 billion in 2007)

DoubleClick help extend Google's advertising reach from just its own properties to the entire internet. DoubleClick and its associated products generated over $20B in revenue in 2019, which means today that figure is closer to $32B and yields a $185.4B valuation (Acquired, 2020).

1. Instagram (Purchased by Facebook for $1 billion in 2012)

Instagram generated over 40% of revenue for Facebook or more than $47.6B, which yields a value of $175.5B at current market prices.