Eat or be eaten: With a wave of consolidation in prospect, America’s big internet firms look set to divide into predators and prey

Even at charity auctions, technology titans like large transactions. At a recent fundraiser for Tipping Point, an anti-poverty charity in San Francisco, guests swiftly bid up the price for a package of Super Bowl tickets in increments of $100,000. The fortunes made by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are so vast that the event effortlessly raised $14m. Guests tossed yellow confetti round the room in celebration.Companies in the Valley are big spenders too. Last year around $184 billion of mergers and acquisitions were struck in the American technology industry, according to Dealogic, a research firm. There will be even more this year. This week speculation grew that Salesforce, a provider of cloud-based business software, had received several approaches — Microsoft and Oracle were said to be among those interested, though another, SAP, ruled itself out. Recent stumbles by Twitter and LinkedIn make them vulnerable; and a number of other internet firms are big enough to be an appetising prospect, but not too big to be swallowed up. Unlike, say, Google, most do not have founders with controlling stakes that could prevent a takeover.

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