Tim Cook Explains Why Apple Buys The Companies It Buys

Tim Cook at Goldman Sachs Tech Conference 2013Tim Cook at Goldman Sachs Tech Conference 2013

Photo: Owen Thomas, Business Insider

Apple CEO Tim Cook is speaking today at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco.One issue addressed: Whether Apple would use its cash stash to buy companies.

“We’ve done an acquisition about every other month,” Cook said, in response to a question about how Apple was using its cash.

“We generally do it for skills or IP [intellectual property],” he said. “And we generally move the skills to work on something else.”

He gave the example of PA Semi, a semiconductor-technology company, whose team went on to develop the proprietary chips used in iPhones and iPads.

In recent years, Apple acquired Siri, a voice-recognition startup, and a series of mapping startups that formed the basis of Apple Maps.

But those deals have generally been small compared to Apple’s $137 billion in cash and marketable securities.

“We will do more of those,” Cook said. “We really like to control the primary technology behind the products that we’re in.”

That doesn’t mean Apple will only do talent acquisitions or piecemeal pickups of patents and other technology.

Cook said Apple had considered more than one big acquisition:

We have looked at large companies. In each case that we’ve done that thus far, it didn’t pass our test. We’ve looked at more than one. Will we look again? I’m sure we will. Is there a reason we couldn’t do that? No. I’m sure we have the management depth and talent to do it. But we’re disciplined and thoughtful and we don’t feel a pressure to go out and acquire revenue. We want to make great products. If a large company could help us do that even better, that would be of interest.

But, Cook added, Apple’s “cash is not burning a hole in our pocket.”

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