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US technology giants such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and Apple are looking at acquiring Indian start-ups to shore up on the high-quality talent available in the country to help build new age products or services.
However, these acquisitions might not necessarily give these large firms access to any new technology or market. Since 2014, Google, Facebook, Twitter and Apple have all made their first acquisitions in India.
The trend was kicked off by Facebook, which acquired Bengaluru-based Little Eye Labs in January 2014, which built software tools for analysing the performance of Android apps, in what could be called in start-up parlance as acqui-hire or buying companies for their talent.
The five-member team including co-founders Giridhar Murthy, Lakshman Kakkirala and Aditya Kulkarni of Little Eye Labs moved to Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, where they continue to work as engineers working on products for the social network.
Twitter made the next move, acquiring Pune-based Zipdial in January 2015. While founder Valerie Wagoner moved to Twitter's headquarters in San Francisco, the rest of the team, including co-founder Amiya Pathak, took up roles at Twitter's India unit.
"This is more of team and talent acquisition, it happens globally and isn't unique to india. The reason we haven't seen too many acquisitions for technology in India is because no one is doing any significant R&D (research & development) or new product and technology development here," said Harish H V, a Partner at Grant Thornton.
Similarly, the world's most valuable company Apple acquired a Hyderabad based start-up called Tuplejump in April 2016. At least seven employees, including founders Rohit Rai and Satyaprakash Buddhavarapu are now in the US working at various offices at Apple.
Tuplejump was a building a data mining and analysis platform, but its employees have been absorbed into Apple's own teams. The LinkedIn profile of Helena Edelson, vice-president of engineering at Tuplejump, reads, "Designing, building and running fault tolerant distributed systems at massive scale, massive data. In Scala."
Earlier this week, a four-month old Bengaluru-based startup Halli Labs announced that it was acquired by Google. It isn't clear what exactly the startup was building, except for the fact that it was in the artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) domain. According to a LinkedIn search, the company has four employees, including founder and CEO Pankaj Gupta.
Gupta, who moved to India last year worked with Stayzilla before the company shut shop earlier this year. The computer science PhD holder from Stanford University then started up on his own, only to be acquired by Google four months later. He'd also been one of the core engineers at Twitter when the company was just starting up in the valley.
"I think India has a good amount of talent, but one of the challenges is that our society prides itself on management more than technology. Every guy who starts as a programmer within 2-3 years wants to become a manager. Hopefully, with so many accelerators here now, people will build good products here and we'll see more global acquisitions for technology," added Harish.