If the 2000s were all about disruption and new solutions in the business world, the 2010s were something of a period of consolidation. Big companies in industries from pharmaceuticals, to entertainment and telecommunications, came together to create huge conglomerates.
In the world of pharmaceuticals, the 2010s have seen several prominent mergers. One of the most notable acquisitions of 2019 came when Bristol Meyers-Squibb purchased Celgene for $74 billion. Pharmaceuticals are so difficult and expensive to develop that this industry has always favored larger firms. This trend has existed since the 1990s. What the big companies have acquired in most cases is not just one or two drugs, but rather new technologies and ways of approaching the business.
One of the most significant mergers of the decade happened towards the end of 2019. Disney and Fox came together in a mega-merger. This merger is part of Disney’s push to win in the world of streaming. With Fox’s extensive back catalog in their back pocket, including pop-culture juggernauts like The Simpsons, Disney is hoping to be unbeatable when it comes to streaming services. By gobbling up so many hot properties, Disney is hoping to be the service of choice for families who are on a budget and must choose between Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, and Disney+. These two companies had very different cultures, and there have been some growing pains. Some observers are noting that Disney is putting Fox properties like The Fly and Say Anything in their vault and refusing to allow them to be screened at festivals and drive-ins. Overall, it will be interesting to see how this merger plays out.
Finally, the telecommunications industry saw many big deals in the 2010s, too. Mobile providers Sprint and T Mobile came together in a deal valued at over $25 billion. On the more technological side, regulators have been starting to raise questions about the size and ubiquity of companies like Google, Amazon, and Apple. Several politicians have raised the specter of antitrust rules when it comes to these companies. In response, they’ve been a little bit more conservative. None of the big three tech companies were involved in any massive mergers or acquisitions during the year 2019.