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Google tops most active acquirer list in 2010

Even after making a $6 billion bid, Google Inc. couldn't hook daily discounter Groupon Inc. into joining its empire last year. But the Internet giant did manage to acquire more start-ups owned by venture capital firms than any other company in 2010. (click on the Infographic for a full history of acquisitions courtesy ByJess.Net

According to the Wall Street Journal, which cites data from Research firm Dow Jones VentureSource:

Google acquired 10 U.S. venture-backed companies this past year (see list below), double the amount of the next most-active acquirers on the list. Its acquisitions ranged from larger land grabs like AdMob Inc., the mobile ad network that sold for $750 million, to small scoops like the acquisition of email start-up ReMail.

Facebook and IBM were tied for the runner-up spot on the list of 2010 deals with a total of five acquisitions. VentureSource only counts acquisitions that have closed.

Facebook may acquire more this year, considering it snagged $450 million from investment bank Goldman Sachs. The company plans to acquire more than 10 companies this year, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Overall, mergers and acquisitions activity in 2010 was well ahead of 2009. Last year, 445 m&as raised $33.9 billion, a 17 percent increase in deal activity. That's compared with the previous year when 381 exits raised $20.8 billion.

"After holding back on acquisitions the last couple of years, corporations found themselves with a significant amount of cash on hand and the need make strategic acquisitions to maintain a competitive edge," Scott Austin, editor of Dow Jones VentureWire, said in a press release.

He added: "Combined with rising valuations that made investors and entrepreneurs more inclined to sell, M&A picked up - a trend likely to continue into 2011."

Buyouts of venture-backed companies by private equity firms were steady year-over-year. In 2010, private equity firms spent $1.9 billion to buy 23 venture-backed companies, on par with 2009 deals. The $46 million median amount paid for a venture-backed company in 2010 was 70 percent more than the $27 million median in 2009.

Don't miss our photo gallery on Google's investments!

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