Last year, Microsoft made several high-profile acquisitions, from small companies such as Beam and Swiftkey, to giants like LinkedIn. Overall, the company acquired 10 companies last year, a slightly lower number compared to the 17 companies acquired in 2015, but that doesn’t mean that the company is slowing down on M&A.
In a new interview with Fortune, Microsoft’s EVP of business development Peggy Johnson shared that she only considers acquisitions if its solves a problem for the company. “Many of them are relatively small companies that show some promise and fill a gap we have,” she explained. “We think of it as “Land and Expand.” We do something interesting in one area that we’d like to propagate into other areas.”
Since Johnson joined Microsoft back in September 2014, the company has announced 33 acquisitions. The exec says that she’s very focused on artificial intelligence startups, which is why Microsoft acquired the Montreal-based deep learning company Maluuba in January. Autonomous vehicles are another area of focus for Redmond, which launched a connected vehicle platform earlier this year. “Because we have a secure cloud offering and the ability to draw all our assets together, we think we can meet companies in the autonomous space wherever they are on the spectrum, from assisted to autonomous, explained Johnson.”
In the end, Johnson says that she’s not necessarily seeking transformative deals. “If it solves something for me, it could be a little tiny company and it could be something like LinkedIn, that brought us this fantastic enterprise network. But we don’t think of it as transformative or not,” she explains.