Instagram fans are freaking out, thinking that Facebook will destroy the app they’ve come to know and love.
Statistically, they’re probably right.
History is littered with tech acquisitions that went nowhere, destroyed by bureaucracy or incompetence — or perhaps even by intent. (What better way to kill a competitor than to buy it?)
But not always.
These 11 acquisitions should give Instagram fans some hope….
The Facebook-Instagram deal is similar in a lot of ways to Google's acquisition of YouTube. YouTube pioneered user-uploaded video on the Web, like Instagram pioneered mobile photo sharing. Both companies were growing like weeds. Google and Facebook both had inferior competing products.
Google could have taken YouTube and slowly squeezed it out of existence in favour of Google Video. But instead, the company worked with content owners to settle most of the outstanding copyright issues (there's still a lawsuit from Viacom dragging on), and now it's the most popular video site on the Web by far.
Apple's track record on acquisitions was mixed. For instance, when it bought streaming music service Lala in 2009, Apple shut it down a few months later and never came out with an equivalent.
Siri was quite different. 18 months later, Apple had turned it into an intelligent assistant for the iPhone 4S. It helped Apple ship more than 37 million iPhones (not all 4S models) during the last quarter of 2011.
Amazon bought Zappos in 2009, but instead of bringing the shoe-seller into the Amazon spaceship, the company has allowed it to operate as a totally independent subsidiary, keeping its famed focus on customer service alive.
Game developer Bungie Studios originally demonstrated Halo at -- get this -- MacWorld. That's right, the action game we all associate with the Xbox was originally a game for the Mac.
Microsoft bought the company in 2000 and moved Halo over to the first Xbox, which was based on the same PowerPC chip architecture that was used in Macs at the time.
Halo made the Xbox successful enough to convince Microsoft build the Xbox 360 -- the console that helped Microsoft win the living room.
Yahoo isn't known for its great acquisition track record, but it got this one right.
In 1997, the company bought Four11 for $92 million and turned it into the biggest email service in the world -- Yahoo Mail. It's still Yahoo's most important product, although younger users are turning away from email.
Salesforce already had a cloud computing platform for developers called Force when it paid $212 million to buy Heroku in 2010. Did it really need another one?
Apparently so. Salesforce has continued to invest in Heroku, and it's now hosted more than 1 million live apps -- up from about 100,000 at the time of purchase.
Cisco paid $3.2 billion for online collaboration company WebEx back in 2007, and it's still alive and well -- in fact, Cisco is banking on collaboration to drive a lot of growth in coming years.
Microsoft bought Skype for $8 billion almost a year ago, then did what Microsoft never does: left it alone.
It still works on the Mac, Microsoft isn't trying to push other products through the Skype home page, and the service just passed 40 million concurrent users. Eventually, expect Microsoft to integrate Skype into Xbox Live, Windows Phone, and maybe even Windows PCs, making it even more accessible.
Google bought an obscure startup building a platform for next-generation phones in 2004, and turned it into the number-one smartphone platform in the world. (At least by market share.) Sometimes it really does take a big company to help a startup realise its potential.
This could be the greatest acquisition of all time. When Apple bought Next in 1998, it not only got the core operating system that revived the Macintosh and later formed the basis for iOS, it also got Steve Jobs. The buy set Apple up for its run that has made it the most valuable company in the world.
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