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Cisco scarfed up the most venture-backed firms over 10 years

Having munchies in the Noughties

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VentureSource, the venture capital service owned by Dow Jones and part of the Fox empire, has put out its rankings of the most acquisitive companies in the past decade, and wouldn't you know it, all of the top ten are in the IT racket.

The VentureSource deal rankings, which you can see here, look at the number of deals that companies do as they eat venture-backed firms, not at the aggregate value of those deals.

If you subscribe to the VentureSource service, you can probably get your hands on that data, although much of the data would have to be based on estimates, since financial details on many deals are not disclosed.

According to VentureSource's survey of a decades' worth deals, Cisco Systems came out on top, with a stunning 48 deals done between 2000 and 2009. IBM had the second-largest appetite for venture-backed firms, snapping up 35 companies, and was followed by Microsoft, with 30, and EMC, with 25.

Oracle, which has made some of the largest acquisitions of public companies in the past decade - PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, WebLogic, and the pending Sun Microsystems - has been no slouch when it comes to buying venture-backed companies, with 23 deals.

Broadcom, Symantec, and Hewlett-Packard did 18 deals each in the past decade, followed by Google with 17 deals and Sun Microsystems with 16. If you add Oracle and Sun numbers together, the combined company bests Big Blue and approaches the acquisitiveness of Cisco.

Despite the awful economy in 2009 and the fact that venture capital was hard to come by and some VCs must have been sorely tempted to cash out, the number of acquisitions involving venture-backed companies was relatively small. Oracle, which topped the 2009 list, did five deals, and EMC came in second, with four deals. Thomson Reuters, IBM, and Google had three deals, and a slew of other vendors - mostly in IT, but some in the medical industry - did two deals. ®

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