From Apple To Microsoft: The Top 10 Acquirers Of AI, ML Firms

Ten tech companies have acquired a total of more than 100 artificial intelligence and machine learning companies since 2017. Here’s the 10 companies that have purchase the most AI and ML companies, according to a new PitchBook report.

Many of the largest tech companies in the world are gobbling up some of the top artificial intelligence and machine learning organizations in a move to boost their own AI market share and/or ML roadmap.

In fact, just 10 companies have acquired more than 100 AI and ML companies since 2017, according to a new report by market research firm PitchBook, with Apple, Accenture and Microsoft leading the way.

As the AI battle heats up in 2023—fueled by new generative AI innovation—startups and established companies alike are being acquired by larger players like Cisco, ServiceNow, IBM and Intel.

[Related: The 10 Hottest AI Startups Of 2023 (So Far)]

The worldwide AI market is expected to reach $900 billion by 2026, growing at a 19 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next three years, according to market research firm IDC.

The AI and ML market is growing at a somewhat unprecedented rate due to massive investments inside technology providers as well as venture capitalists (VCs). In the first quarter of 2023, AI and ML companies raised a total of $22.7 billion from VCs, including $12.7 billion from generative AI investments, according to PitchBook’s new Q1 2023 report by its Institutional Research Group.

“The AI industry is at an inflection point between pre- and post-LLM (large language model) eras,” said Brendan Burke, senior analyst of emerging technology for PitchBook’s Institutional Research Group in its new ‘Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning Report’. “The recent wave of LLMs has subsumed end-user attention, forcing incumbents to expand their product portfolios to continue revenue growth.”

He said leading technology leaders like Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Meta, Nvidia, Intel, Qualcomm, HPE, and Salesforce are making a series of investments in both internal and external technologies. “Each of these companies has participated in multiple VC megadeals since the start of 2022, and their participation is a key component of the largest deals in the space,” said Burke.

CRN takes a deep dive into PitchBook’s report around the 10 largest acquirers of AI and ML companies since 2017.

No. 10: Oracle

Number Of AI & ML Acquisitions Since 2017: 7

Oracle delivers a broad AI portfolio integrated in its cloud applications on a best-in-class AI infrastructure and with generative AI innovations. Some of Oracle’s most notable acquisitions in this space over the past few years include ML platform company Nor1 and cloud-based AI data engine owner DataFox. The Austin, Texas-based software giant recently unveiled it is developing a new cloud AI service via a partnership with generative AI startup Cohere.

Most Recent AI & ML Acquisition: In December 2022, Oracle completed the acquisition of Newmetrix assets from, with Newmetrix technology aiming to reduce project risk through an industry-tuned AI platform called Vinnie. The acquisition included specific IP underlying Newmetrix’s AI-enabled construction safety product suite which Oracle incorporated into its Construction Intelligence Cloud.

No. 9: IBM

Number Of AI & ML Acquisitions Since 2017: 8

Since Arvind Krishna became CEO in April 2020, IBM has acquired more than 30 companies, focused on bolstering its hybrid cloud and AI capabilities. Some of IBM’s key AI and ML acquisitions over the past few years include data observability software provider; AI observability and application provider Instana; and Turbonomic’s in a move to build out IBM’s AI for IT operations [AIOps] tools.

Most Recent AI & ML Acquisition: Although not officially completed, IBM unveiled its plan in June to spend $4.6 billion to acquire software company Apptio with plans to combine Apptio’s FinOps [financial and operational IT management and organization] software with its Watsonx AI Platform.

No. 8: Intel

Number Of AI & ML Acquisitions Since 2017: 8

Intel is a global superstar in AI and ML solutions around processors, accelerators and software optimization tools for AI. Some of Intel’s most strategic acquisitions in the space since 2017 include AI chipmaker and accelerator developer Habana Labs; AI-based workload optimization startup Granulate Cloud Solutions; and its $15.3 billion blockbuster acquisition of machine learning automotive superstar Mobileye.

Most Recent AI & ML Acquisition: Last year, Intel acquired Granulate Cloud Solutions for $650 million. Granulate applies artificial intelligence to high-priority computing workloads to optimize how they travel across a customer’s both cloud and on-premises network. The startup was absorbed into Intel’s Datacenter and AI Group in 2022.

No. 7: DataRobot

Number Of AI & ML Acquisitions Since 2017: 9

Boston-based DataRobot is the only venture capital-backed company in Pitchbook’s research report who made its top 10 AI and ML acquirer list. DataRobot’s Enterprise AI platform offers end-to-end automated machine learning tooling, including data preparation, model development, security, and monitoring. Some notable acquisitions over the years include machine learning operations platform providers ParallelM and Algorithmia; as well as cloud data science and AI analytics specialist Zepl.

Most Recent AI & ML Acquisition: DataRobot made most of its AI and ML acquisitions in 2019, 2020 and in 2021, but has yet to pull the trigger on buying another company since late 2021 when it bought enabled DataRobot to extend its existing no-code app building and decision intelligence tools to help customers optimize business processes decisions.

No. 6: ServiceNow

Number Of AI & ML Acquisitions Since 2017: 10

In 2023, ServiceNow has rolled out new AI-based tools within its software platforms including around its Now Intelligence offering, which surfaces information, makes predictions, and automates repetitive tasks. Some of its most notable AI and ML acquisitions include generative AI providers Parlo and Element AI; as well as AI chatbot specialist Passage AI.

Most Recent AI & ML Acquisition: In May, ServiceNow announced it signed an agreement to buy AI-powered platform G2K in a move to transform retail and other industries. G2K’s technology allows organizations to connect real-time data across storefronts and other physical spaces for a complete view of operational data. ServiceNow plans to add G2K’s smart IoT technology to its Now Intelligence portfolio.

No. 5: Cisco

Number Of AI & ML Acquisitions Since 2017: 11

Cisco has been one of the largest investors in AI and ML over the past several years to boost its software and cybersecurity portfolio, while at the same time entering new markets. This year, the San Jose, Calif.-based worldwide networking leader said it will be injecting generative AI into both its security and collaboration portfolios. Some of the more notable AI and ML acquisitions by Cisco include AI-powered communications and collaboration provider BabbleLabs; voice and data privacy standout Voicea; and business intelligence startup Accompany, which uses AI to build databases of people and relationships at companies.

Most Recent AI & ML Acquisition: In May, Cisco announced its intent to buy generative AI specialist Armorblox. Armorblox has pioneered the use of large language models (LLMs) and natural language understanding in the cybersecurity space. Leveraging Armorblox’s use of predictive and generative AI across its portfolio, Cisco said it will change the way customers understand and interact with their security control points.

No. 4: Meta

Number Of AI & ML Acquisitions Since 2017: 12

Unlike the majority of other companies on this list, Meta has acquired AI and ML companies that mostly enhanced the company’s device portfolio around virtual reality, augmented reality and its Metaverse strategy. However, some notable AI acquisitions from Meta in recent years include computer vision and application development startup Scape Technologies, and Atlas ML, which makes open source tools for machine learning.

Most Recent AI & ML Acquisition: In late 2021, Meta acquired AI.Reverie, a startup that creates synthetic data to train machine learning models. The startup said it can create a virtually limitless supply of machine learning training data on-demand.

No. 3: Microsoft

Number Of AI & ML Acquisitions Since 2017: 14

Microsoft has been buying AI companies at a rapid pace over the past several years, becoming one of the global leaders in generative AI. This year, Microsoft agreed to invest $10 billion in AI unicorn startup OpenAI via a complex partnership involving cloud credits, distribution rights, profit sharing, and research collaboration. Some notable ML and AI acquisitions from Microsoft in recent years include machine learning and identity management company Drawbridge; industrial AI platform provider Bonsai; and its game-changing $7.5 billion acquisition of GitHub in 2018.

Most Recent AI & ML Acquisition: In 2022, Microsoft acquired speech recognition and conversational AI standout Nuance for a whopping $19.7 billion. With a focus on the healthcare industry, the goal is to provide more affordable and accessible healthcare and help organizations in every industry create more personalized customer experiences.

No. 2: Accenture

Number Of AI & ML Acquisitions Since 2017: 19

Accenture is the largest channel partner acquirer in PitchBook’s report, placing second in terms of the number of AI and ML acquisitions since 2017. The 732,000-employee company has acquired several AI and ML companies in 2022 and 2023 including Albert, an AI and big data analytics services specialist; machine learning planning and development provider Tenbu; as well as this month’s acquisition of AWS Premier Partner Nextira, which provides platform AI and ML services.

Most Recent AI & ML Acquisition: In June, Accenture completed its acquisition of industrial AI company Flutura in a move to boost Accenture’s AI services for clients in the energy, metals, mining and pharmaceutical industries. India-based Flutura’s AI platform provides self-service solutions for advanced analytics to help engineering teams assess, predict, and improve the asset performance, reliability, throughput and energy efficiency outcomes.

No. 1: Apple

Number Of AI & ML Acquisitions Since 2017: 21

Apple has acquired more AI and ML companies than anyone else in the world, according to PitchBook’s report. The iPhone giant and technology conglomerate has been acquiring AI and ML companies over the past several years to boost and broaden its growing portfolio. Some of its more important acquisitions in this space include AI edge computing startup; AI-powered video analyzer specialist Vilynx; and machine learning content specialist Laserlike.

Most Recent AI & ML Acquisition: In March, Apple acquired WaveOne, a developer of AI algorithms for compressing videos. WaveOne provides “content-aware” video compression and decompression algorithm technology that could run on the AI accelerators built into phones and PCs.