10 Companies that Microsoft Gobbled Up in the Early Days

If you’ve ever wondered how Microsoft got to be the mega-giant it is today, take a look at their acquisitions record in their early days. Bill Gates knew good technology when he saw it, and he didn’t hesitate to spend big money to acquire the companies that were developing it. Here are some of the companies that fed the growth of Microsoft in those early days.

  1. Forethought This was Microsoft’s first acquisition. It was no small purchase though. $1.4 million dollars was spent in 1987 to gain the company that had created the software technology that would later become the basis for Microsoft Powerpoint.
  2. Fox Software Creators of the database software known as FoxPro, this company was acquired in 1992. Many of its employees became leaders within the Microsoft organizational structure.
  3. Softimage– A 3D visual image software from Canada, this company was purchased in 1994 for $139 million.
  4. WebTV A full ten years after the first acquisition, Microsoft made its biggest purchase to date, when it acquired the WebTV internet company for $425 million dollars. As a division of Microsoft, the WebTV developers became the creators of the gaming side of Microsoft, the Xbox360 hardware.
  5. Hotmail Since, they were in the buying mode in 1997, they also made another major purchase that year, when they bought the popular online email service Hotmail. This one cost them a little bit more, a whole half-billion dollars.
  6. Firefly This may have seemed like a simple little purchase at the time. Firefly was a website service that helped its users discover new media: music, movies, etc. But it was their innovations in privacy technology that was assumed to be the enticing factor for Microsoft.
  7. LinkExchange Started in an apartment living room in 1996 by 3 partners, this internet advertising company grew quickly and did some gobbling of its own in its two short years of life. Shortly after it had purchased SubmitIt and Merchant Planet, Microsoft acquired LinkExchange for $265 million dollars. Not a bad return for those three guys in just two years.
  8. Visio At the turn of the century, January of 2000, Microsoft made this purchase for over $1.5 billion dollars. A diagramming and flowchart software program designed to work on the Windows platform, Microsoft kept the name as it continued to develop the product under its one branding of Microsoft Visio.
  9. Great Plains Business management and accounting software was and is the strength of this company. Microsoft took control of this entity in 2001, for just under $1 billion dollars.
  10. Navison This acquisition became the basis for the Microsoft Business Solution software and the accompanying CRM software that went with it. The company was purchased in 2002 to complement the Great Plains software purchase the year before.

Gobble, gobble, gobble that’s how you grow in the technology business. All the different pieces feed one another, and before you know it you’ve become a technology giant.

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