The 15 Blown Tech Deals Of The Decade

[image url="http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4b2a38290000000000a4b0ca/image.jpg" link="http://www.businessinsider.com.au/tech-deals-decade-2009-12/aol-approached-att-in-the-summer-of-1999-1" caption="" source="" alt="jerry yang steve ballmer steve case aol time warner photoshop" align="left" size="xlarge" nocrop="true" clear="true"]
The decade is littered with huge deals that could have changed the business world, but for whatever reason, never materialised.

Consider…

  • What would have happened if Google bought Friendster?
  • If Verizon hadn’t shunned Apple for the first iPhone?
  • If Comcast bought Disney for $54 billion instead of later buying NBC?

Of course, the king of all could have, should have during the decade was Yahoo.

Yahoo almost bought Google and Facebook. Then it spent all of 2008 rejecting an acquisition offer from  Microsoft.

After Yahoo, the decade’s next biggest waffler was Viacom.

Viacom flirted with Facebook and MySpace, hoping either would recharge its flagging MTV brand on the web. It didn’t happen. MySpace was bought by News Corp. who may have killed it by forcing the social network to focus on revenue not user experience.

Take a look at 15 big tech deals that fell apart this past decade →

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[slide
permalink=”aol-approached-att-in-the-summer-of-1999-1″
title=”AOL approached AT&T in the summer of 1999″
content=”AOL CEO Steve Case approached AT&T boss Mike Armstrong about a merger in the summer of 1999, according to Nina Munk in ‘Fools Rush In.’ It doesn’t appear that talks were very serious, as Armstrong quickly dismissed the idea. AT&T was a mess at the time.

Regardless of how serious they were, it’s interesting to consider any ‘what-if’ scenario with AOL. Its merger with Time Warner is considered to be one of the worst deals in history, and was finally unwound this year when AOL was spun out.

Would it have turned out better with another company? Case looked at eBay, Worldcom, Disney, even Citigroup before settling on Time Warner.”
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[slide
permalink=”yahoo-could-have-bought-google-for-5-billion-2″
title=”Yahoo could have bought Google for $5 billion”
content=”In the summer of 2002, Yahoo’s CEO Terry Semel tried to buy Google for $3 billion. Google said no. Semel’s execs told him it would cost $5 billion to get Google, Wired reported. Semel said no way.

It would have been a merger at that price, not an acquisition since Yahoo’s market cap about the same at that point.”
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[slide
permalink=”google-offered-friendster-30-million-3″
title=”Google offered Friendster $30 million”
content=”Friendster turned down a $30 million offer from Google in 2003.

This might be a rough one for Friendster. It was left in the dust by MySpace and Facebook. It was sold to Asian company MOL for a bag of peanuts: TechCrunch says it only went for $26.4 million.”
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[slide
permalink=”yahoo-wanted-to-buy-facebook-for-1-billion-4″
title=”Yahoo wanted to buy Facebook for $1 billion”
content=”In 2006 Yahoo considered buying Facebook for $1 billion. Facebook asked for more money and Yahoo decided it was too much to pay.

It’s hard to imagine Facebook doing better under Yahoo’s leadership. The social network has a $1 billion revenue run-rate according to sources. At the same time, we don’t think it would have saved Yahoo as it would have put pressure on Yahoo to get Facebook generating revenue, which could have killed the social network. (See MySpace. Or how Yahoo mismanaged Delicious.)

Around the same time, Viacom tried buying Facebook for $750 million.”
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[slide
permalink=”verizon-was-apples-first-choice-5″
title=”Verizon was Apple’s first choice”
content=”Apple went to Verizon with the iPhone first, but Verizon said ‘no thanks’ when it heard Apple’s demands. Apple wound up launching the iPhone with rival AT&T/Cingular Wireless.

If Verizon had met Apple’s demands, iPhone owners might have better data service in New York and San Francisco. Then again, maybe Verizon’s network would have been stressed by the load, and Verizon would be seen as the crappy teleco everyone in the tech world loves to hate on. (The way AT&T is now.)”
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[slide
permalink=”microsoft-never-bought-yahoo-6″
title=”Microsoft never bought Yahoo”
content=”Remember this saga? From the Spring to the Summer of 2008, Yahoo and Microsoft danced. Yahoo wanted too much. Microsoft offered what it thought was enough, but Yahoo’s Jerry Yang insisted was too little. And it didn’t happen. No big deal, unless you’re a Yahoo shareholder, and then you got royally screwed.

A year later Microsoft and Yahoo signed a search deal.”
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[slide
permalink=”viacom-didnt-buy-myspace-7″
title=”Viacom didn’t buy MySpace”
content=”Before Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. paid $580 million for MySpace, Viacom was looking at the social network. The thinking was that it would breathe new life into MTV and Viacom’s digital properties.

It didn’t happen. News Corp. built a relatively successful property out of MySpace before pressures to hit revenue targets cracked the social network and it was passed by Facebook.”
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[slide
permalink=”facebook-wanted-to-buy-twitter-so-did-google-8″
title=”Facebook wanted to buy Twitter. (So did Google.)”
content=”Facebook was interested in purchasing Twitter. It offered $500 million in Facebook stock, but Twitter said no because Facebook was valuing itself at $9 billion.

Similarly, Google considered purchasing Twitter because it’s worried a lack of real-time information leaves it vulnerable. Twitter decided to pass. We don’t know what the price might have been. We thought $1 billion was fair.

Facebook set about trying to kill Twitter instead, and Google just integrated Twitter results. Now, Twitter can plod along and try to figure out a business.”
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[slide
permalink=”david-geffen-couldnt-figure-out-how-to-get-the-new-york-times-9″
title=”David Geffen couldn’t figure out how to get the New York Times”
content=”David Geffen tried multiple times to buy the New York Times, but was rebuffed at each turn.

All for the best, really. What would Geffen have done to turn around the paper? At best it would be a money losing vanity project for Geffen. At worst it would be a disaster like Sam Zell’s ownership of the Tribune Company.”
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[slide
permalink=”comcast-made-a-54-billion-offer-for-disney-10″
title=”Comcast made a $54 billion offer for Disney”
content=”Comcast made an unsolicited bid of $54 billion for Disney in 2004. Disney rejected the proposal.

Both companies are probably lucky. This would have been an expensive, difficult-to-execute deal.

Instead, Comcast got NBC for much less. It only cost around $15 billion. Since it was an amicable takeover, NBC management will probably try to make the deal work.”
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[slide
permalink=”microsoft-looked-at-buying-sap-11″
title=”Microsoft looked at buying SAP”
content=”In late 2003 Microsoft initiated talks with SAP, but broke them off because of ‘complexity.’ If the deal had gone through, it would have put Microsoft more in competition with Oracle. It might have also taken Microsoft down a different path, away from consumer goods and the web, deeper into the enterprise market.”
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[slide
permalink=”apple-considered-buying-palm-12″
title=”Apple considered buying Palm”
content=”Shortly after Steve Jobs returned to Apple, he tried to buy Palm from 3Com, according to ‘Piloting Palm,’ the excellent corporate history. Jobs ‘was looking for ways to expand Apple’s product lineup with a low-cost portable computer,’ according to the book. Palm’s CEO Donna Dubinsky told him to get lost. ‘I told him that I was getting too cranky to work for anyone!’ according to the book.

Obviously, this didn’t go through. And it’s never going to go through, unless Palm — now under former Apple leadership — builds something new that Apple wants. As far as mobile phones go, Apple is full steam ahead with the iPhone and Palm is probably toast.”
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[slide
permalink=”blockbuster-thought-about-spending-13-billion-on-circuit-city-13″
title=”Blockbuster thought about spending $1.3 billion on Circuit City”
content=”In April 2008, when Circuit City was on the verge of collapse, Blockbuster thought it would be a good idea to buy the retailer for $1.3 billion. Blockbuster wised up, dropped the bid in July, and Circuit City went bankrupt in November.

Unless Blockbuster wanted to simply become a low margin retailer we never understood this move. All it would have done was dragged Blockbuster down, making life easier for Netflix.”
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permalink=”electronic-arts-tried-buying-take-two-interactive-for-2-billion-14″
title=”Electronic Arts tried buying Take Two Interactive for $2 billion”
content=”Electronic Arts offered to buy Take Two Interactive for $2 billion, but was turned aside. Take Two makes the wildly popular ‘Grand Theft Auto’ series, and thought it was worth much more.

Take Two walked away from the bid — worth over $25 a share — in August 2008. A month later the financial crisis started and Take Two’s price sank. It hasn’t recovered. The stock is trading around $8 today, and it just issued a grim outlook.”
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[slide
permalink=”ibm-tried-for-months-to-buy-sun-15″
title=”IBM tried for months to buy Sun”
content=”IBM spent spring of 2009 trying to buy Sun for $7 billion, only to give up eventually because Sun’s board rejected the deal. Also, IBM’s lawyers discovered payments to senior Sun employees were higher than anticipated.

No biggie. IBM’s stock popped the next day as it didn’t have angry shareholders worried about an expensive acquisition. A month later Oracle swooped in and picked up Sun in a deal worth $7.4 billion.”
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[slide
permalink=”now-dont-miss-16″
title=”Now, don’t miss…”
content=”15 Gadgets That Changed Everything This Decade >

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