With the PillPack deal, which is reported to be worth around $1 billion, Amazon has spent almost $2 billion on acquisitions in the first six months of this year, after buying Ring for $900 million in February. It's the first time in Amazon's 24-year history that it's spent more than $1 billion on deals in consecutive years, after the $13.7 billion Whole Foods acquisition in 2017.
Billion-dollar transactions aren't foreign to Amazon — it acquired Zappos for $1.2 billion in 2009 and shelled out almost $1 billion for Twitch in 2014. But until recently, that kind of big spending was sporadic, certainly relative to other large tech companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Salesforce. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has tended to prefer developing projects in-house.
“Amazon’s historic M&A strategy has been to build first and buy second,” said Tom Forte, an analyst at D.A. Davidson who has a buy rating on the stock. “What has changed, which may be influencing its strategy today, is the size of the company [it’s buying].”
According to CB Insights, Amazon bought 10 start-ups in 2017, its most active year on record. Those purchases were for companies in cybersecurity, game development, home security cameras and Souq.com, an e-commerce company in the Middle East.
Forte said the change may be influenced by Amazon’s need to maintain its growth rate after its stock price surge has turned it into the world's second most valuable publicly traded company. As a result, he said, Amazon is pulling the trigger on acquisitions faster than in the past, and entering new areas where it hasn't had a strong presence.
"PillPack's visionary team has a combination of deep pharmacy experience and a focus on technology," said Jeff Wilke, Amazon's CEO of Worldwide Consumer, in Thursday's statement.