Where the digital dollars have gone

How 15 major media companies (yes, that includes Google and Facebook) have invested in new technology

Infographics by Jasmine Lee

I nnovation comes in many forms. Popular imagination often bends toward the idea of isolated genius: Thomas Edison toiling away at Menlo Park, discovering 10,000 ways not to make a lightbulb; Steve Jobs sketching the smooth contours of the iPod. For many of today’s media leaders, innovation means looking beyond the horizons of their internal headquarters. From virtual reality to advertising technology to, yes, television for dogs, the major media players we analyzed have cast a wide net in their attempts to reach new audiences and develop groundbreaking products. The following graphics showcase the investments and acquisitions of 15 leading media companies and social networks, revealing strategies and some surprising results.


Total deals by month

The number of investments and acquisitions made by major media companies and social networks since 2010

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What are they investing in?

CJR collected data from CB Insights for 15 media companies. Innovation types were determined based on the descriptions and purposes of the companies being invested in or acquired.

Pretty much everything

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While the numbers of deals in which each company has participated vary wildly, the overarching theme is diversification. Some results are unsurprising: Facebook and Google have focused on product development, while Time Warner has invested heavily in video. The graphics to the left, based on data supplied by CB Insights, show the number and type of investments and acquisitions made by media players.


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Television

Investments and acquisitions by Verizon, Comcast, Discovery, Time Warner, and Disney

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of these investments went to video companies. In 2012, Disney acquired Lucasfilm, the entertainment company founded by Star Wars creator George Lucas. Disney later invested $750 million in the television and movie streaming service Hulu.


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Publishing

Investments and acquisitions by Hearst, tronc, The Washington Post Company, News Corp., The New York Times Company, and Gannett

Nearly half

of the deals from these publishing companies went to e-commerce, advertising technology, and access to new audiences. Well-known digital media outlets BuzzFeed, Refinery29, Mashable, and Business Insider all benefitted from this group’s investments.

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Social networks

Investments and acquisitions by Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Snapchat

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investments and acquisitions were directed at product development. Companies had a wide range of specializations, including cyber security, search engines, and facial and speech recognition technology.


Oculus VR, creator of virtual reality headset Oculus Rift,
was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion.


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(Top image by Mina De La O / Getty Images)

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Shelley Hepworth, Carlett Spike, and Pete Vernon are CJR Delacorte Fellows.