It may not be the most recognizable deal from this list, but Dell's acquisition of enterprise storage company EMC for $67 billion in cash and stock stands as the tech industry's largest buyout. This took place in 2015.
Nvidia acquisition of Arm in a transaction worth $40 billion is #2 in this list, marking one of the biggest semiconductor purchases in the multi-decade history of the chip business. The amazing irony is that this $40 billion dollar deal doesn’t involve any chips at all. Four years prior, Softbank had purchased Arm for nearly $32 billion.
Third place goes to renowned chipmaker Broadcom, which was scooped up by rival Avago Technologies in a cash and stock deal valued at $37 billion. In 2020, scrappy chipmaker AMD reached an agreement to purchase FPGA specialist Xilinx in an all-stock deal valued at $35 billion. That's the fourth entry in our top 5 list.
To round up the top 5 deals in tech history, IBM acquired open-source software developer Red Hat for $34 billion. The deal took place in 2018, after IBM and Red Hat had been partners on enterprise-grade Linux for over 20 years.
Other high-profile acquisitions that have fell off the rankings in recent years include Microsoft's purchase of LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in 2016. Also, HP's takeover of Compaq in 2002 which was virtually tied with Facebook's buyout of WhatsApp with both being ~$19 billion exchanges. And for completion's sake, Google paid $12.5 billion for Motorola and sold it to Lenovo two years later for $2.9 billion -- minus all those mobile patents they actually wanted for its Android ambitions.
You may be wondering why AOL's buyout of Time Warner isn't among the answers, considering it was a larger deal than any of those above. AOL paid $106 billion for Time Warner in 2000 -- it was actually originally $165 billion but later reduced -- however that acquisition is typically excluded from this sort of list because AOL and Time Warner are considered media companies more than tech companies.