Competitive Advantage via Tech/ IT Company Acquisition by Non-Tech Company

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    Thant Coleman

    I would love to gauge thoughts on feasibility and even learn of recent instances of non-tech companies acquiring tech companies and achieving competitive advantage in the marketplace as part of their overall business strategy.

    An older example that comes to mind, was when one of the large airlines purchased an airline reservation system and offered that same system to the masses so that travel agents could book travel and make reservations for the masses. Having then placed a terminal on the desks of travel agents throughout the country, the airline gained a major advantage over competitors through ease of use, customer service cost savings and by creating an additional barrier to entry. No agent would want two or more terminals, so the airline quickly overtook others in sales. Having reached capacity, the Airline then began to lease space on its network to other airlines and this too became a huge revenue stream.

    • As this was decades ago, I would like to know if anyone knows of other cases like this?
    • Do you see this as being feasible today? If so, are you able to imagine instances?



    That is a great question! I found it very interesting because for my “what’s happening in your industry” assignment, it focused on how healthcare industries were merging with other branches of healthcare or even retail spaces (Walmart and Humana for example), so I had a feeling this would also exist in the tech industry.

    The world of self-driving cars was something that did come to mind as we read about reports of successful/non-successful attempts, so I started there. I found this interesting article on Strategy & Business “Tech Deals Bring New Challenges to M&A”. The article covers more than just cars, but it did talk about GM purchasing a tech start-up that now runs GM’s self-driving unit. This reminded me of the Polycom case-study, if you don’t have the capability or ability, buy it from someone who does! There were some interesting acquisitions called out in the article that even made me go “hmmm…” like IKEA acquiring TaskRabbit.

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