Cox Automotive and KAR Auction Services Inc., owners of the two largest U.S. auction groups, each want to grow and diversify in the face of a rapidly evolving industry.
But their approaches are quite different.
Take Cox, which got into the automotive realm with its acquisition of Manheim in 1968. The privately held Atlanta company's automotive operations have exploded in size since 2010 thanks to major acquisitions, including the purchases of Kelley Blue Book, vAuto, Dealertrack and more.
Cox Automotive COO Mark O'Neil, former president of Dealertrack, said the company has one thing in mind when it decides whether to acquire a startup or another company: Does this give Cox something new to offer?
"Acquiring all these companies allows us to better execute our vision, and our vision is transforming the way the world buys, owns and sells cars. And to the extent that we have all the pieces of the puzzle to execute that transformation, it's much more likely that it's going to happen," O'Neil said.