Top 5 Most Expensive Website Acquisitions Ever

POSTED BY Heather Johnson, UPDATED ON April 15th, 2024
Most Expensive Website Acquisitions Ever

It’s no secret that Flippa is the leader when it comes to buying and selling websites among everyday online entrepreneurs. However, it’s the top dogs of the Internet that exchange big money in the realm of website acquisitions. Facebook, eBay, Google, and Yahoo all top the charts by leading some of the most expensive website acquisitions ever with billion-dollar deals:


5. GeoCities

In the spring of 1999, Yahoo! acquired the now-defunct GeoCities for $3.6 billion, which later became ‘Yahoo! GeoCities.’ Once the third most visited website in the world, GeoCities met its demise in October of 2009, when Yahoo! Geocities terminated its hosting services to all but one country – Japan.

With its 2009 closure, most would consider the acquisition of GeoCities to have been a total loss. However, considering its successful run for over ten years and the fact that Yahoo! GeoCities is still operating in Japan, it certainly wasn’t a total loss.


4. PayPal

In the summer of 2002, eBay announced its acquisition of PayPal. The payment platform was acquired by eBay for $1.5 billion. It later went on to be integrated into the online auction system as a payment processor, offering both buyers and sellers a safer, faster, and more efficient way to exchange payments.

Though integrated deeply into the eBay system, PayPal continues to be an online payment processor that allows users to buy, sell, and transfer money in transactions outside of eBay. Many businesses rely solely on the PayPal platform to receive payments for goods and services, as well as pay contractors.


3. YouTube

Another famous Google deal is their acquisition of YouTube in late 2006. Google purchased the video-sharing giant for $1.65 billion in an all-stock transaction. This may have been one of the most successful Google acquisitions to date, as it allowed Google to gain access to over 800 million users per day, a considerable slice of the online user pie.

Nearly 104,000 hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube each day (72 hours per minute) and worldwide users consume over 3 billion hours of video each month. These stats are unarguably impressive, YouTube only adds to the ever-increasing vault of Google’s valuable acquisitions.


2. Motorola Mobility

In the summer of 2011, Google acquired Motorola Mobility for a whopping $12.5 billion. It was later revealed that the total value of Motorola Mobility’s patents amounted to $5.5 billion – roughly half of what Google paid for the acquisition.

All Motorola smartphone devices now operate on the Android operating system – which is Google’s native mobile OS. Google claimed that the acquisition resulted in benefits for its consumers as it allowed Google to offer better phones at lower prices.


1. Instagram

Instagram’s engagement is off the charts. With nearly 30 million fanatic users chronicling their daily lives from breakfast to bedtime, Facebook made a smart business decision when choosing to acquire Instagram. The acquisition didn’t come cheap as Facebook paid a hefty $1 billion for Instagram in early 2012. Some say Facebook may have overpaid, while others say it was an act of self-preservation.

The efforts behind the photo-sharing app Facebook was rumored to be developing in 2011 would have been thwarted by the mega user base already loyally using Instagram. It’s also likely that Facebook may have been losing users to Instagram. Acquiring a competitor and combining two of the hottest names on the Internet made for a successful, albeit expensive website acquisition.

Whether a company has its eye on a hosting service or video-sharing platform, one thing certainly holds when the household names of the internet decide to acquire a website- millions, and often billions, of dollars will exchange hands.

Generally speaking, most website acquisitions are beneficial to everyone involved; the seller will be rewarded for their hard work and ingenuity, the buyer will gain a valuable asset, and the user often experiences an increased user experience.

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