Apple Drops Acquisition Clues in New Job Listing

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Is Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) gearing up for an acquisition spending spree? A recently posted Apple job listing spotted by 9to5Mac suggests that the Cupertino, California-based company will continue to increase its acquisition spending, as it has over the past several quarters. In the job listing posted on Monday, Apple stated that it is looking for an “Acquisition Integration Analyst” to “partner with Apple’s Corporate Development team to deliver the successful integration of acquired companies.”

Although Apple has yet to spend a significant chunk of its $159 billion cash hoard on a single company, the $525 million that it spent on acquisitions during the fiscal first quarter of 2014 was nearly double what it spent in the year-ago quarter. At the company’s recent shareholder meeting, CEO Tim Cook noted that Apple had acquired twenty-three companies over the past sixteen months. With so many companies being acquired in a relatively short period of time, it makes sense that Apple would need more employees focused on integrating those businesses throughout Apple.

Unlike many other major tech companies, Apple does not usually buy large businesses. Instead, the company focuses on buying smaller companies whenever it needs to acquire a specific technology to augment or create a certain product or a service. In 2012, Apple acquired fingerprint sensor technology company AuthenTec in order to create the Touch ID fingerprint scanner for the iPhone 5S. More recently, Apple acquired SnappyLabs — the company behind the popular iPhone camera app SnappyCam — in order to improve the iPhone’s native burst photography mode.

However, the job listing for the Acquisition Integration Analyst position described a particular job responsibility that appeared to hint at bigger acquisitions to come. Besides helping to “[e]stablish the integration approach for smaller acquisitions,” the job also requires the employee to “[a]ssist on larger, more complex transactions.”

Although Apple has an enviable record of success with its small company purchases, some industry watchers, such as Ironfire Capital founder and managing partner Eric Jackson, have criticized Apple for its timid approach to acquisitions. While it remains to be seen if Apple’s recent job listing is a harbinger of a new acquisition strategy, it should be noted that the company has historically been averse to spending cash on large acquisitions. However, the company may continue to boost the number of small companies that it acquires.

On the other hand, Cook made it clear at the shareholder meeting last month that he is not opposed to purchasing a large company if it fits into Apple’s overall strategy. Cook outlined Apple’s acquisition philosophy at an investor conference hosted by Goldman Sachs in 2012. “We have looked at large companies,” said Cook, per the Wall Street Journal. “In each case, it didn’t pass our test. Will we look at more, I think so. But we’re disciplined and thoughtful, and we don’t feel a pressure to go out and acquire revenue. We want to make great products. If a large company could help us, then that would be of interest. But again, deliberate, thoughtful, is our mantra.”

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