This year began with the tech industry puzzled by Xerox's proposed takeover of its larger rival HP. If 2020 has proven anything, it's that things can always get stranger. Though the pandemic put paid to Xerox's efforts to acquire its competitor, this year may still surprise, with the possibility of either Microsoft or Oracle taking over the US operations of video social media app TikTok.
As part of US president Donald Trump's ongoing feud with China, he has ordered the firm to divest its US operations - valued at over $20bn - within 90 days or face being banned over national security fears.
The interest of the two tech firms has puzzled many, Microsoft at least has some history with social media, having purchased LinkedIn four years ago, but it's hard to see the natural correlation between database vendor Oracle and the video app beloved by teens worldwide.
As the clock counts down on who will the TikTok contract, we look at nine tech acquisitions that bewildered the tech industry at the time. In some cases, time has proven these to be incredibly smart investments, the jury is still out on the success of others and some of these purchases were doomed from the day they were announced.
Microsoft buys Nokia
How much: $7.2bn
Why: Despite then-CEO Steve Ballmer laughing at the introduction of the iPhone because "it doesn't appeal to business customers", he quickly changed his tune and wanted in on the smartphone market.
Under his watch, Microsoft shelled out $7.2bn for Nokia's mobile arm. Nokia had long sat at the top of the mobile phone market with its iconic phones, but the advent of the iPhone and other smartphones saw its lunch being eaten.
Ballmer left Microsoft before the deal completed, leaving Satya Nadella (pictured left with former Nokia boss Steven Elop) to rejuvenate a project he had admitted he didn't believe in. The Nokia deal saw Microsoft axe 19,000 jobs (though it generously offered free Windows Lumia phones to those who would take redundancy) and just one year later it cut its losses and wrote off $7.6bn related to the acquisition. It stopped support for the Windows Phone operating system in December 2019.
Heads scratched: 3/5. Nokia was struggling to maintain relevance at the time against the likes of Apple and Samsung, and Microsoft was continually playing catch-up to those titans of the market.
Which successful video chat software was originally an albatross around its first buyer's neck? Click the next page to find out...
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