Big and bold acquisitions are risky though. AOL-Time Warner was the biggest bust in the history of the tech industry, and don't forget Hewlett-Packard's disastrous $25 billion purchase of Compaq. Microsoft ended up writing off the entirety of its $7.2 billion purchase of Nokia and even Google ended up splitting apart Motorola and selling it off, holding onto just the patents.
But there's no equivalent playbook for Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods, a 450-store grocery chain with 91,000 employees. For one, no other tech company could get away with spending that kind of money on a retailer with a 4.6 percent operating margin. But at Amazon, which has run at or near breakeven for most of its history, that represents margin expansion.
The market is giving Jeff Bezos the benefit of the doubt. Analysts are overwhelmingly bullish on the Whole Foods deal as are investors, who sent Amazon shares up 2.4 percent on Friday to $987.71, tacking on $11.3 billion in market value.
"Amazon's rise to dominance in other categories has been marked by directly disrupting traditional brick-and-mortar retail categories," wrote Michael Graham, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity who recommends buying Amazon shares. "With the WFM acquisition, it jump-starts the attack on one of the least penetrated categories — groceries."
Perhaps none of Amazon's peers could get away with spending billions of dollars on a grocery store chain, but as they look to put their market cap and balance sheet to work, the tech leaders will keep looking well beyond their own backyard.
Correction: This story was revised to correct when Apple booked more than $7 billion in services revenue. It was in the quarter that ended last December.