LinkedIn was just the beginning of internet M&A

LinkedIn might have opened a floodgate for mergers and acquisitions in the internet sector.

The $US26.2 billion deal, which was announced in June, was one of the largest acquisitions of an internet company in recent memory, and sets the tone for future deals.

“Potential M&A has been one of the recent drivers in the rebound in the space, in excess of the clear rally in the market,” Evan Wilson, analyst at Pacific Crest securities, said in a note to clients.

The recent acquisition of LinkedIn, as well as the upcoming sale of Yahoo, clear the table for lots of future acquisitions, according to Wilson. With as many as 10 companies spending time looking at buying Yahoo, and big names like Google and Microsoft looking at LinkedIn, there have been a number of big distractions in the space. Getting these big deals out of the way allows the companies with obvious appetites to focus on other targets.

What’s on the table

Angie’s List is one company that comes to mind for a quick acquisition. The company has twice denied an offer to be acquired by IAC Interactive, saying the offers undervalued the company. Angie’s List is currently transitioning to a free model, and an unsuccessful transition could lead the company to go looking for a bailout through acquisition, according to Wilson.

Additionally, Twitter has been on many investors’ lists as a potential acquisition target. The social media company has struggled to attract new users to the platform and is constantly compared to Facebook, its glowing competitor in the space. With recent moves to increase its nascent broadcast offerings, brokering deals with the NFL and Bloomberg, the company could be expanding its appeal to acquirers outside the traditional internet space.

Wilson also lists GrubHub, Yelp, Zillow Group and Criteo as other potential acquisition targets in the space.

This doesn’t mean the sector is out of the the woods just yet. Internet companies are all having trouble expanding their user numbers, which could be due to saturation of the PC and mobile markets, said Wilson. Acquisitions in the space could potentially help this, but probably wont’ be the primary driver of a growth in users.

Wilson is outperform on only two of the eleven internet companies his firm tracks, and market perform on the other nine.

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