Social Media Acquisitions: Who Owns Whom And Why?

by Alicia Simpson

Friday, August 21st, 2015

A Guide to The Ever-Evolving World Of Online Networking – courtesy of our PR Agency

Social media acquisition blogs

Image by Frits Ahlefeldt

DARE to throw open the door to the world of social media for business for the first time and it may feel rather like you have stepped straight into a tornado.

Buffeted by the whirlwind, it’s easy to be baffled by the torrent of content, the insider’s jargon, the different rules for the different platforms and the sheer, unadulterated volume of it all.

There’s everything from the personal pronouncements of the most powerful man in the world to the cat pics posted by your oddball neighbour  in a never ending stream of consciousness.

Yep, it’s 2015 and we ain’t in Kansas anymore, Toto.

Just when you think you have grasped the unpredictable climate of it all – umbrella clasped firmly in hand to weather any unforeseen Twitter storm – something major will change, just to trip you up again.

Many of the biggest changes in social media happen thanks to mergers and acquisitions in the highly-charged world of tech start-ups, in Silicon Valley and in other tech hotspots. Just like in the food chain, there are a some powerful big fish eager to gobble up smaller rivals.

The undisputed heavyweights of the sector like Facebook and Twitter cast a huge shadow over the social media landscape, waiting to pounce on any the most exciting start-ups showing serious potential.

Keeping up with exactly who has acquired who in the social networking world isn’t the easiest of tasks, so our Edinburgh PR team have put together this bluffer’s guide to keep you au courant.

Facebook bought: Instagram ($1billion) and Whatsapp ($19billion)

Holyrood PR in Edinburgh show why it is important to include social media as part of your business strategyArguably the most on the ball of the social networks, Mark Zuckerberg and team are dominant players in the social media trading game.

And Facebook’s purchase of Instagram and Whatsapp weren’t just audacious because of the price tags involved – they also show incredible anticipation of the ‘next big thing’.

Both companies were emerging leaders in their fields, with Instagram revolutionising image sharing and Whatsapp offering a superior solution to instant messaging.

Yet Facebook was heaped with a healthy dose of ridicule when it made its move for Instagram. Until that point, its acquisitions had been far more modest and its many commentators scoffed at the £1 billion deal.

Some even went as far as suggesting that the Facebook, which started life as a network for university students, was suffering a “midlife crisis”.

But it turns out Facebook successfully predicted that image sharing was the future.

That $1billion to obtain Instagram’s 30 million hipster users now seems the deal of the decade – the platform has now grown to more than 150 million users.

And now there is little doubt that Zuckerberg’s acquisition of endless sepia-toned selfies and photos of quinoa was a prosperous purchase.

As of April this year, Whatsapp reported 800 million monthly active users, with 70% of these using the platform on a daily basis. What’s more, the instant messaging app reported a staggering 1 million new users registering every day, and its already active users sending a daily volume of 34 billion messages. Not bad for a young’un.

Google bought YouTube ($1.65billion)

Though admittedly not a social media site, (except, perhaps, for its social arm GooglePlus, which has just never quite made it on to the top lists), Google’s 2006 Googleacquisition of the most recognised name in video streaming before video streaming had even taken off was a significantly powerful move.

Though the price tag seemed initially high at the time, YouTube has since gone from strength to strength and now has more than a billion users, has over 300 hours of video uploaded to it every minute and top YouTube creators such as Zoella and PewDiePie have even been found to be more popular than celebrities among today’s teenagers.

Did we mention that YouTube is also the world’s second biggest search engine?

Yep, while you’re still using Google to find what you’re looking for, countless millions of people go straight to the video sharing site.

Another reason to keep it firmly on your business radar.

Twitter bought Vine ($970million) and Periscope (reportedly $100million)

TwitterWith video sharing’s popularity soaring, Twitter jumped on the bandwagon by acquiring Vine, a three-man New York based company which specialised in capturing and sharing very short clips on a mobile device.

Hitting the social media sweet spot of shrivelling attention spans, Vine was rapidly snapped up by Twitter in 2012. With 40 million users and 100 million people watching Vine videos each month, it was an opportunity that Twitter would have been mad to refuse. What’s more, in April, Vine reported that an average of 8,333 videos were uploaded to the platform every minute, and that an extraordinary half a trillion Vine loops are played annually.

Evidently acquiring a taste for all things video, the messaging service then went on to purchase Periscope this year – an app for live streaming video from your mobile which is a distinctly perfect fit for Twitter’s real-time crux.

These acquisitions may hint towards a diverse future path that Twitter sees itself following – one that features less text and images and more instant action viewing.

LinkedIn bought Slideshare ($119million) and ($1.5billion)

Back in 2012, LinkedIn made the smart move of acquiring SlideShare – a leading professional sharing platform for business documents, videos and presentationsLinkedIn which has often been termed the YouTube or Pinterest for slideshows.

This was a particularly powerful purchase as it enabled professionals to upload and share PowerPoint and similar presentations via the social media site, therefore giving them the opportunity to deliver their key messages in a highly visual manner and facilitating the discovery of people through their content.

To continue its mission to help professionals grow in their careers, LinkedIn then bought in April for a whopping $1.5billion. is an educational company which boasts an extensive library of video tutorials taught by industry experts, offering professional teaching in software, creative and business skills. LinkedIn’s acquisition means that job seekers researching the necessary skills for their desired career paths instantly have the means by which to learn these skills instantly at their finger tips.

Media watchers were impressed with both acquisitions, which were seen as strengthening LinkedIn’s position as a professional must-have.

And then there’s Justin Timberlake, who took a major stake in the $35million deal for MySpace and did… well… we’re not actually entirely sure what he did with that.

Of course the cycle of big companies acquiring small, exciting start-ups will continue. Facebook, Google, Twitter and the like to pounce on smaller firms which have already spotted a gap in the market and ironed out early mistakes. Such acquisitions also bring them a community of active users.

Our Scottish PR agency Help You Stay Ahead of the Social Media Whirlwind

The key to online success is constantly keeping your eye on the ball and predicting what is likely to become the next big thing.

If you struggle to find the time to keep abreast of all social networking goings on, our Edinburgh PR team will be happy to help – we have an excellent track record across social media and digital platforms.

To find out more on how we can help you build a strong social media presence, contact us on 0131 561 2244 or fill in the contact us form below and we will get back to you:


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    The profile and biography of public relations professional Alicia Simpson, a junior account executive with award-winning Scottish public relations agency, Holyrood PR in Edinburgh.

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