It is a new year, and in case you hadn't noticed, there are tonnes of technology companies out there with extra cash and a few spending ideas up their sleeves involving mergers and acquisitions.

Looking back at 2014, Google kicked off the tech world's annual shopping spree with its surprising acquisition of Nest for $3.2 billion. Google then sold its Motorola Mobility division to Lenovo for $2.91 billion. Let's also not forget that one of the most expensive tech deals of all time occured last year: Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19.4 billion.

Facebook even shelled out another $2 billion on Oculus in 2014. While it's not surprising for giant companies like Facebook to spend a lot on acquisitons, it is suprising that many of these headline-grabbing deals are happening on mere startups. These are baby companies that don't often have clear business models, but they do have in-demand products or services or talent.

That's the stuff luring the attention (and wallets) of Google, Facebook, Apple, and other big industry players. So, keeping that in mind, we've picked out five startups worth keeping an eye on in 2015. They're primed for buyouts, and we're lnot the only ones taking notice.

What is it?

Slack is probably the coolest communication tool being used in the tech industry. It's like Skype (with Mac, mobile, and web apps), only a billion times more feature-rich. Stewart Butterfield launched it in 2013. He's the same guy who co-founded and sold Flickr to Yahoo.

Who'd want it and why?

Although Butterfield told Mashable that he has a "strong desire" to keep Slack independent, we're sure billions of bucks could change his mind. The question is however: who would buy it? Microsoft might in order to keep Skype on top and relevant.

Facebook might also have an interest, because it is currently exploring a way to expand something called Facebook at Work. The team behind Facebook uses Facebook at Work to communicate internally, and rumours claim Facebook wants to launch an enterprise version.

In other words, if a company like Microsoft or Facebook does buy Slack, it'll likely be a fast acquisition meant to both kill the tool and snatch up the talented developers behind it. We'd rather not see that happen, and it appears Butterfield doesn't either. But you never know.

What is it?

Simply put: Stripe is a 4-year-old company that enables individuals and businesses to accept payments over the internet.

Who'd want it and why?

When Twitter launched a Buy button in September, there was a lot of talk about the technology behind it. That technology came from Stripe, which also works with major companies like Reddit, Lyft, TaskRabbit, etc.

With such big partnership the company is currently valued around $3.5 billion. That's a lot of cheddar, and it's only going to get cheesier by the looks of things (sorry - we couldn't resist). Any company looking to expand revenue sources should be interested in Stripe.

Now that Twitter is a public company, it has to increase revenue and keep shareholders happy, and as we already mentioned, Twitter already relies on Swipe to help build out its e-commerce business. We can't see any reason for the duo not to take the next step.

What is it?

Postmates is a delivery/logistics company that is often compared to Uber. It has a network of couriers who deliver goods locally, and it relies on the use of smartphones for receiving orders and dispatching drivers. Postmates is four years old and operates in 18 US cities.

Who'd want it and why?

You might do a majority of your online shopping through, but don't forget that Google has a shopping service too.

Google Shopping not only serves up lucrative product search adverts but also points you to products available from third-party retailers and lets you buy goods and get them delivered on the same day from local stores.

That last bit is Google's biggest problem. It needs a smart and reliable delivery network - one much like Postmates' - in order to really compete with Amazon and bring Google Shopping to the next level.


What is it?

Uber is a mobile app that connects passengers with drivers of vehicles for hire. You don't have to make a reservation or wait in a taxi line to use Uber. Just compare rates for different verified vehicles and services through Uber, then add a credit card to your account, and set your pick-up location on a map. The app also lets you check the progress of your car and the route a driver took before paying.

Who'd want it and why?

Many people view Uber as a taxi service, but it can easily be spun into a delivery service. In fact, the company itself has tested delivery programs. Any company interested in acquiring an international network of drivers would immediately look to Uber.

Google could use it to not only establish a courier network for Google Shopping (and thus truly compete with Amazon), but it could also use it to boost its self-driving cars program. Imagine an army of unmanned Uber delivery vehicles!

It's a long shot though, especially since Uber has said it has no acquisiton plans. Uber is also really controversial and faces many legislative hurdles. London black cabs held a protest last summer, for instance, hoping to stop the "American monster" from invading their city.


What is it?

Snapchat is a photo- and video-messaging app. A group of 20-something Stanford University students launched the app in 2011.

Snapchat is unique in that all photos and videos only last a brief amount of time before they disappear forever, making the app ephemeral in nature, though users can take a screenshot to save Snaps. As of 2014, the app's users were sending 700 million photos/videos per day.

Who'd want it and why?

Due to the popularity of Snapchat among teens, Facebook reportedly offered to acquire Snapchat for $3 billion. One of the app's cofounders declined the cash offer however. Facebook has since launched a rival ephemeral photo app called Slingshot, but it hasn't taken off.

Facebook has a teen problem. A study by the Pew center, released in December 2013, showed that Facebook was the most popular social media site among online users 18 and older but growth mostly came from older users.

In other words: Facebook is hemorrhaging teens, and they are all going to Snapchat. Facebook can essentially stem the losses, or at least recoup them, if it buys Snapchat. The social network might never have the chance though, as Snapchat is reportedly eyeing an IPO.