The Law and Business of Social Media
November 07, 2017 - M&A

Pace of M&A Deals in Social Media Industry Slows After Record Year

Pace of M&A Deals in Social Media Industry Slows After Record Year

Technology-company M&A slowed down significantly over the last year, with deal volume down by 15% across the globe in Q3 of 2017 compared to Q3 of 2016, and a $37 billion decline to $119 billion in Q3 2017 tech-company deal value compared to the same quarter in 2016.

“Outbidding by private equity acquirers” was the primary cause of the plunge, according to almost half (48%) of the industry decision makers who responded to the Tech M&A Leaders’ Survey from 451 Research and Morrison & Foerster. Indeed, 2017 was the first year in history that private equity firms announced more technology mergers and acquisitions than companies listed on U.S. exchanges.

In line with these trends have been the companies that fall within the tech industry’s social media subsection—defined by a spokesperson from Index, the source of the data cited here, as “companies that actually own and operate social media platforms, companies that provide services surrounding social media platforms (such as analytics and marketing automation), or companies that operate through social media.”

Thus far in 2017, social media companies have been involved in only 58 deals. That slowdown comes on the heels of the biggest year for social-media-company M&A yet, 2016, when there were 136 deals averaging $1.6 billion in value. The biggest of those deals, Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn for $26.2 billion, was also the third-biggest tech-company acquisition in 2016.

Struck after LinkedIn’s trading price had dropped to just a bit more than half of its $250-per-share high on the market, Microsoft’s acquisition of the career-networking site might “prove to be a harbinger of what’s to come for many of those social media companies that did end up going public,” wrote Mashable’s Seth Fiegerman, observing that “many of the flashy social networks that Wall Street once fawned over—even if it didn’t understand what exactly they do—are now looking for the exit door as the mood sours.”

Other industry observers also predicted the acquisition of Twitter, as well as Snapchat and Yelp. With all three of those big names yet to be purchased, those predictions obviously didn’t pan out.