With all of the recent acquisitions by Yahoo! and Google, I decided to take a closer look at some Google Acquisitions. I’m glad I did. I came across a couple of papers I hadn’t seen before and learned a little more about some of Google’s employees that I didn’t know.
Many of the Google acquisitions we have seen appear to be influenced by Google attempting to acquire technology, and some Google acquisitions appear to have been made to hire the employees of companies acquired. I’ve tried to indicate what kinds of technology Google acquired in these transactions. I didn’t include the financial details of these purchases either. I was mostly interested in the technology that was brought through these Google acquisitions.
2007 Google Acquisitions
Grand Central Communications
Green Border Technologies
Marratech ABâ€™s Video Conferencing Software
Gapminderâ€™s Trendalyzer Software
2006 Google Acquisitions
2005 Google Acquisitions
Akwan Information Technologies
2004 Google Acquisitions
Where 2 Technologies
2003 Google Acquisitions
2001 Google Acquisitions
2007 Google Acquisitions
(Added September 27, 2007)
Today, there was a note on the front page of the Zingku web site that, “We’ve agreed to have Google Acquire our Zingku service,” and a report by the Google Operating System blog – Google Buys Zingku, Mobile Social Network.
The Zingku site tells us that the service allows people to:
- Store & fetch mobile photos and txt reminders with alarms on your companion mobile website.
- Share mobile photos and posts with friends and friends-of-friends with txt msg’ing, instant messenger, & web.
- Gather a big crowd & their friends with text messaging, IM, and email
- Take an instant poll among friends, all with text messaging. “Hey, what should we do? 1. Movie 2. Dan’s party”
- Send your mobile cards that people fetch by texting a magic code. Make as many as you want & link them together.
- Grab postings from blogs and syndicated feeds (RSS, Atom) via text message to your mobile phone.
Zingku also allows merchants to create “mobile flyers” or interactive electronic brochures and then publish/email a “zing-code” to their customers who opt to pull the flyer to their mobile phone.
At this time, the Zingku service is in private beta.
Zingku started as Bloobird Studio Inc. and received $1 million in funding in June of 2006 from Flagship Ventures. They changed their name to Zingku officially on December 9, 2006.
The leader of Bloobird was Martin Fahey, who was chief executive of Webhire Inc. Martin Fahey was in charge of spreadsheet marketing at Lotus Development Corp. before Webhire.
The founding team also includes two other former IBM/Lotus employees: Sami Shalabi, who led the development of collaborative applications at IBM; and Maurice Shore, who developed techniques for storing and displaying graphics at IBM.
It’s difficult to tell if the following was written for Zingku and is part of what is being transferred over to Google. They aren’t publicly available, but here are some of the latest patent applications from Sami Shalabi that he has listed on his website:
- 60/939,734 – Method and System for Social Networking. Filed 2007
- 60/939, 704 – Method and System for Multi-channel Conversation Engine. Filed 2007
- CAM920060171US1 – Private Metadata Integration in an Activity Thread. Filed 2007
The announcement of Google’s acquisition of Postini came in a press release from July 9th. I’ve posted about the pending and granted patents assigned to the company in Google’s New Acquisition Postini and their Patent Filings.
A little more about the background of the company and its path to being acquired by Google.
Postini received its first round of funding in 1999 and developed into a company providing email antivirus and security applications to some huge corporations. In 2001, Postini was offering email to wireless devices, email by phone, translation of foreign emails, virus protection via “Trend Micro,” blocking “junk” emails, faxes by email, and other services.
A press release from February 2007, announced that the company had joined the Google Enterprise Professional program, offering security and compliance services for the Google Apps Premiere Edition. These are some of the services cited in the press release:
- Message recovery — providing the ability for administrators to quickly restore accidentally deleted messages.
- Centralized management of all user accounts — allowing administrators to centrally control policy and content.
- Threat management — delivering world-class protection from a broad range of threats to critical business communications.
- Archiving for compliance and e-discovery — helping businesses comply with legal and industry mandates to archive, discover, and produce electronic communications.
Grand Central Communications
On July 2, 2007, Google announced on the Official Google Blog that they had acquired Grand Central Communications. The offering from the company is interesting:
GrandCentral is an innovative service that lets users integrate all of their existing phone numbers and voice mailboxes into one account, which can be accessed from the web.
The company was started in 2005 and was founded by Craig Walker and Vincent Paquet, who had worked together running internet telephony pioneer Dialpad Communications (acquired by Yahoo in 2005). Looking through the Internet Archives, I uncovered a different Grand Central, which offered a very different range of services, but ran into some problems:
If GrandCentral sounds familiar, itâ€™s because it has a history. Halsey Minor, the founder of CNET created a company called Grand Central as a way to integrate all kinds of Web services â€” eBay, PayPal, Intuit â€” into a single platform. Despite getting $60 million in venture backing, it ran into trouble â€” as we reported last year.
According to that article, Halsey Minor financed some part of the new Grand Central, and Walker and Paquet purchased the company name. There are 16 patent applications in the USPTO patent assignment database assigned to Grand Central Communications, but those appear to have been developed under the earlier incarnation of Grand Central Communications. It’s hard to tell if that intellectual property was transferred over with the name and website.
This company developed some front-end online presentation tools quickly but very productive while funded by Y Combinator. I’ve written about the acquisition in more detail at Google Acquires Webfonts Presentation Developers, Zenter, Inc.
Google purchased Tonic Systems (see below) in April 2007, which makes back-end software for presentation systems. Zenter created front-end editing tools for presentations, including one referred to as “WebFonts,” which appears that they have applied for a provisional patent for – unpublished as of this date. (Another provisional patent is hinted at in an interview with one of the cofounders of Zenter.) Google provides a few details at the Official Google Blog in More Sharing.
The UK Register announced earlier today that Google had acquired Peakstream, Inc. – Google shivs server crowd with PeakStream buy
Peakstream was founded in January 2005 by Matt Papakipos, Asher Waldfogel, and Stanford University Professor Pat Hanrahan. The website, which is now nonresponsive, notes that Peakstream has 35 employees and is headquartered in Redwood Shores, California. The company creates software that utilizes the processing power in off-the-shelf 3-D accelerator cards in ways that the manufacturers of those cards may not have anticipated.
Matt Papakipos and Pat Hanrahan have their names on several patent and patent applications, including a number that involving graphics processing and processors. However, the USPTO doesn’t indicate any publicly published patent filings assigned to Peakstream.
The software works with new high-performance processors such as multi-core CPUs, graphics processor units (GPUs), and Cell processors, using a stream processing approach.
The company was inspired by Stanford University’s Brook Project on stream programming.
From one of the press releases previously on the Peakstream site:
ATI GPUs in concert with the PeakStream software platform are giving companies the ability to process data at speeds they’ve only dreamt of until now,” said Dave Orton, CEO, and president of ATI Technologies Inc. “Today’s graphics processors are capable of processing far more than just graphics applications – they are competent parallel processors ideally suited for a wide range of scientific, business, and consumer applications. Using the full-featured PeakStream Platform, companies can now easily program ATI graphics processors for accelerated processing of non-graphics tasks to drive faster and better-informed business decisions resulting in real competitive advantages.”
Rumors about the acquisition of this Chicago-based feed management and advertising company had been swirling around for weeks, and official announcements were made today on the Feedburner blog (It’s True-gle!) and on a Feedburner FAQ page (no longer available). The Official Google Blog also makes a note of the acquisition in a post titled Adding more flare.
Feedburner was started in 2003 by Dick Costolo, Eric Lunt, Steve Olechowski, and Matt Shobe.
The four founders of Feedburner started working together in 1993, and this was the fourth company that they started together. I checked for patent filings for the company but didn’t come across any published documents.
A lot of articles about the Feedburner acquisition running today. A tongue-in-cheek view can be found at 6 Reasons Google Did Not Need To Acquire Feedburner.
A Spanish photo tagging and photo-sharing site started in October of 2005 by JoaquÃn Cuenca Abela and Eduardo ManchÃ³n Aguilar, Google announced the acquisition of Panoramio on May 30th, 2007, on the Official Google Blog in A picture’s worth a thousand clicks. The Panoramio blog tells us about the acquisition from their perspective – Google agrees to acquire Panoramio
The Google post notes that the Google Earth team has been working with the folks at Panoramio for a while and that there is a default Google Earth Layer that has been featured there since the beginning of the year. While Panoramio’s site is located in Spain, the more than a million images on the site are worldwide. Panoramio’s service allows people to geo-tag the exact location where images were taken.
Green Border Technologies
On May 11th, Google purchased Green Border Technologies, Inc., which makes a sandbox for internet applications to run within, protecting a computer’s operating system from potentially malicious software.
The company has many pending patent applications and a granted patent which I describe in more detail in Googleâ€™s Green Border Technologies Patent Filings.
Marratech AB’s Video Conferencing Software
On April 19, 2007, the Official Google Blog announced that Google had acquired the video conferencing software of Marratech AB. Marratach is located in Stockholm, Sweden, but conducts business globally.
It’s unknown if Google will only use this software internally or make it available to their users for a price or for free. I’ve written about some of the patent applications from Marrakech that may be involved in this transaction at: Googleâ€™s Marratech Software Acquisition and Patent Filings
Google announced today that they have acquired Tonic Systems. Tonic Systems makes software that can extract information from presentation software such as Microsoft’s PowerPoint. The information can then be saved on an HTML page or PDF.
More details in Googleâ€™s Presentation Patent Application (via Tonic Systems).
One of the costliest Google Acquisitions and one of Google’s largest at this point in terms of cost (for $3.1 billion in cash) was announced at the Official Google Blog.
I’ve posted about some of the patent filings that Doubleclick has made over the past few years in (No longer available) Doubleclick + Google: Looking at Some of the Doubleclick Patent Filings. It’s going to be interesting to see how Google moves forward with this purchase.
Gapminder’s Trendalyzer Software
An announcement from Google’s Marissa Mayer on the official Google Blog titled A World in Motion tells us of the acquisition of some new software by Google, as well as the hiring of team members who worked for the foundation that developed the software.
The software adds a visualization element to the presentation of data, ” in the display of facts, figures, and statistics in presentations.” According to the Gapminder pages:
Trendalyzerâ€™s developers have left Gapminder to join Google in Mountain View, where Google intends to improve and scale up Trendalyzer, and make it freely available to those who seek access
This company has been around under the name BiDamic since 2002 and as Adscape Media since 2006. Details are supposedly still being worked out, but it sounds like Google has purchased this in-game advertising company. One of the news reports included a quote from an Adscape employee who stated that they owned 15 patents.
I found 30 published patent applications and a granted patent. Links to those and more details about the company at Google Acquires Adscape Media: Interactive Online Gaming Advertisement and Gaming System Developers
A couple of those patent filings are for full-blown, interactive, online gaming systems.
update – 3/17/2007 -Google publishes a press release on the Adscape Media acquisition
2006 Google Acquisitions
Founded by Joe Kraus and Graham Spencer, who had worked together at Excite.com, Jotspot is a wiki with some collaborative tools for business users. It includes applications such as spreadsheets, calendars, and forms, unlike most wiki software. I’ve written a longer post on the acquisition at Google Acquires Jotspot, Inc. & Wiki Patent Application
Financial terms of the purchase were not disclosed, but Jotspot had just had a patent application published at the US Patent and Trademark Office:
Collaborative web pages are enabled, which allow every page on a website to be editable by an author, and by others, the author lets access the site. Web pages can send and receive email messages. Users can attach files to pages. Structure queries and page-building are enabled by the use of various forms and form elements.
YouTube was founded in February 2005 and quickly grew to one of the busiest online destinations on the web. The site is community-driven and allows people to post and share videos. In addition, viewers can tag videos, comment upon them, and display them on their websites.
The Google Press Release issued on October 9, 2006, tells us that the sale price was $1.65 Billion in a stock for stock transaction. There are no planned changes to the YouTube brand identity. The company will continue to be based in San Bruno, CA, and all of the YouTube employees will remain with the company.
As of this update, there isn’t a press release on the YouTube site about the Google acquisition, but there are three releases dated today about content and distribution deals with CBS (Strategic Content and Advertising Partnership), Sony BMG Music Entertainment (Content License Agreement ), and Universal Music Group (Strategic Partnership).
Neven Vision, or Nevenengineering, Inc., has a strong background in facial and object recognition technologies and has been broadening its offerings by focusing upon mobile technology, including two patent applications filed over the past couple of years image-based search on a mobile device equipped with a camera. I’ve written a little about the acquisition and the company and its technology (including patents) in this post: Google Acquires Neven Vision: Adding Object and Facial Recognition Mobile Technology.
@Last Software (March, 2006) – 3D design software, with a plugin for Google Earth. Rumors of the purchase started circulating as early as October of last year. A Frequently Asked Questions section on the purchase describes changes resulting from the purchase.
The company does hold a US Patent:
A three-dimensional design and modeling environment allows users to draw the outlines, or perimeters, of objects in a two-dimensional manner, similar to pencil and paper, already familiar to them.
The two-dimensional, planar faces created by a user can then be pushed and pulled by editing tools within the environment to easily and intuitively model three-dimensional volumes and geometries.
Writely (March 2006) Web-based word processing that allows online collaboration on documents.
The buzz is on with this acquisition that Google will take on Microsoft and that company’s hold on desktop publishing applications. Except that this isn’t just a desktop publishing application. The program allows you to organize documents by tags, making it a web 2.0 styled application, and it provides offline storage and backups. It can also create blog posts for a blog and allow for rollbacks to previous versions.
Measuremap(February 2006) A statistics and analytics package geared more towards blogs than other web sites, the acquisition of this company by Google was something of a surprise, especially since Google purchased Urchin, which makes a pretty good analytics program. But the beauty or Measuremap is supposedly in the User Interface and design. Unfortunately, hard to tell at the time of the purchase since it was the invitation-only pre-release mode, and I never received the invitation I signed up for.
dMarc Broadcasting(January, 2006) Radio advertising company, allowing for highly automated advertising campaigns. This acquisition brought Google a whole new way to reach out to consumers with advertisements.
Reqwireless (July 2006) Maker of popular mobile applications for email and the web on wireless devices. The presumption is that the technology developed by the ReqWireless folks and the chance to gain a foothold in the Waterloo, Ont. area is what led to this acquisition. Unfortunately, the purchase wasn’t uncovered until January 6, 2006.
(added 9/20, 2006)
I’ve written a full blog post about this acquisition – Googleâ€™s Quiet Acquisition of Transformic, Inc.
Tranformic was a small company, focusing upon building search engines for the deep web, where major commercial search engines had difficulties crawling, and had developed a site that showed off their technology in Everyclassified.com, which collected information from hundreds of classifieds sites on the web. The main reason for this purchase appears to have been to get Dr. Alon Halevy, the man behind Transformic, to work at Google.
2005 Google Acquisitions
Among the Google Acquisitions, I’m writing about, who would have seen how Android would grow (August 2005), software for mobile telephones
Founded by Andy Rubin, accompanied by Andy McFadden, Richard Miner, and Chris White.
Akwan Information Technologies
Akwan Information Technologies (July 2005)
Google Press Release: Google Continues International Expansion, Opens Offices in Latin America
The office in Sao Paulo, Brazil, follows Brazil’s Akwan Information Technologies Inc. in July of this year. Akwan has become Google’s R&D center in Brazil.
An example of the type of research being conducted by the people at Akwan: Distributed Processing of Conjunctive Queries (pdf)
Dodgeball (May 2005), social-networking software for mobile devices
Founders Dennis Crowley and Alex Rainert, see: Google Buys Social Networking Firm and The Future of Wireless.
Urchin Software (March 2005), Web Analytics software
Google Press Release: Google Agrees To Acquire Urchin
Urchin is a web site analytics solution used by web site owners and marketers to better understand their users’ experiences, optimize content and track marketing performance.
A system and method for analyzing traffic to a website is provided that is based on log files and that uses both server-side and client-side information channeled through one source to create a more complete picture of activity to a website. In one preferred embodiment, a sensor code is embedded in a requested web page and sends information back to the webserver where the website resides. This additional information is logged along with normal requests.
System and method for monitoring and analyzing internet traffic
A system and method for monitoring and analyzing Internet traffic is provided that is efficient, completely automated, and fast enough to handle the busiest websites on the Internet, processing data many times faster than existing systems.
The system and method of the present invention processes data by reading log files produced by web servers or interfacing with the web server in real-time, processing the data as it occurs. The system and method of the present invention can be applied to one website or thousands of websites, whether they reside on one server or multiple servers.
The multi-site and sub-reporting capabilities of the system and method of the present invention make it applicable to servers containing thousands of websites and entire online communities. In one embodiment, the system and method of the present invention include e-commerce analysis and reporting functionality. Data from standard traffic logs is received and merged with data from e-commerce systems.
The system and method of the present invention can produce reports showing detailed “return on investment” information, including identifying which banner ads, referrals, domains, etc. are producing specific dollars.
2004 Google Acquisitions
Zipdash (December 2004) Provides navigation assistance for road traffic on mobile in real time by GPS.
See: Navigating by phone and Google acquires traffic info start-up Zipdash
Where 2 Technologies (October 2004), Internet mapping
Brothers Lars Eilstrup Rasmussen and Jens Eilstrup Rasmussen are from Google’s Sydney office and have been actively involved in the patent applications behind Google Maps and using Geographic location information. Before then, they were with Where 2 technologies. See: Take browsers to the limit: Google, and Google Maps and AJAX vs WithStyle – the Australian Legacy.
Keyhole (October 2004), imagery by satellite
Google Press Release: Google Acquires Keyhole Corp
Keyhole’s technology combines a multi-terabyte database of mapping information and images collected from satellites and airplanes with easy-to-use software.
Picasa (July 2004), software of management of photographs on line
Google Press Release: Google Acquires Picasa
Google Inc. today announced it acquired Picasa, Inc., a Pasadena, Calif.-based digital photo management company
Ignite Logic (May 2004), design of turn-key legal sites. Puzzling acquisition, though founder David Ferguson has an interesting past.
2003 Google Acquisitions
Genius Labs (October 2003), Biz Stone was Genius Labs. Unfortunately, he is no longer with Google.
Sprinks (October 2003), paid advertising
Kaltix (September 2003), Research on personalized search, from Taher Haveliwala, Glen Jeh, and Sepandar Kamvar.
Google Press Release: Google Acquires Kaltix Corp.
Kaltix Corp. was formed in June 2003 and focuses on developing personalized and context-sensitive search technologies that make it faster and easier for people to find information on the web.
A system and a method that manages a user query by a single interaction between a server and a client.
A plurality of clients sends queries for search results to a server. The server receives these queries and performs multiple searches to generate multiple sets of search results.
These sets of search results are ranked, consolidated, and passed to the requesting client. The client stores these multiple sets of search results. The client then displays these search results following the boundary defined by the user.
This boundary defines the portions of the search results that the user desires to view. The user may re-define the boundary. The client identifies the search results corresponding to the boundary and displays them.
Applied Semantics (April 2003), contextual advertising
Google Press Release: Google Acquires Applied Semantics
Applied Semantics’ products are based on its patented CIRCA technology, which understands, organizes, and extracts knowledge from websites and information repositories in a way that mimics human thought and enables more effective information retrieval.
The present invention is directed to a system in which a semantic space is searched to determine the semantic distance between two locations. A further aspect of the present invention provides a system in which a portion of semantic space is purchased and associated with a target data set element, returned in response to the search input. The semantic space is created by a lexicon of concepts and relations between concepts. An input is associated with a location in the semantic space. Similarly, each data element in the target data set being searched is associated with a location in the semantic space. Searching is accomplished by determining a semantic distance between the first and second location in semantic space, wherein this distance represents their closeness in meaning. The cost for retrieval of target data elements is based on this distance.
Meaning-based information organization and retrieval
The present invention relies on the idea of a meaning-based search, allowing users to locate information that is close in meaning to the concepts they are searching for. A semantic space is created by a lexicon of concepts and relations between concepts. A query is mapped to a first meaning differentiator, representing the location of the query in the semantic space. Similarly, each data element in the target data set being searched is mapped to a second meaning differentiator, representing the location of the data element in the semantic space. Searching is accomplished by determining a semantic distance between the first and second meaning differentiator, wherein this distance represents their closeness in meaning. Search results on the input query are presented where the target data elements closest in meaning, based on their determined semantic distance, are ranked higher.
Neotonic Software (April 2003), email customer support Case Study from neotonic, about how they helped Google in the days before the purchase. Google also hired David Jeske, the co-founder of Neotonic and the former director of engineering for eGroups.
Pyra Labs (February 2003), editor of Blogger, blogging platform
2001 Google Acquisitions
Outride (September 2001), a Xerox PARC spinoff, data-mining, and semantic analysis. See: Personalized Search: A contextual computing approach may prove a breakthrough in personalized search efficiency (pdf) and Personalized Search
Google Press Release: Google Acquires Technology Assets of Outride Inc.
Outride, a spin-off from Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), was created to apply state-of-the-art model-based relevance technology to the challenge of online information retrieval.
One of the first Google acquisitions that we are aware of, Deja.com (February 2001), Purchase their Usenet archive and other assets, which become Google Groups.
Google Press Release: Google Acquires Usenet Discussion Service and Significant Assets from Deja.com
I have written about some other Google Acquisitions since this post. They are in the Acquisitions Category of this site.
101 thoughts on “Early Google Acquisitions”
Great list. Thank you for compiling it. This post is a must-read for anyone interested in Google, especially SEOs and SEMs.
Thanks Loren, Maxime, and Jim.
Maxime, thanks for the information about Rada Mihalcea. I do need to look more into what she has been doing. She’s been busy, hasn’t she?
I’ve been trying to get some perspective on what they might do in the future, in terms of acquisitions, based upon what they’ve done in the past. I’m not sure that it is a good approach. The Google of even 2003 seems to be a different company in may ways then the one we will see in 2006.
But it was fun to dig a little deeper into their corporate history, and I may be doing some more.
Let’s also do an ‘open-source’ aquisition list.
This is done by hiring the top developer
of an open source project.
For example, Python and Gaim.
That’s a great idea. I’m adding it to the queue of things to research.
Much thanks. 🙂
Useful compilation, especially the abstracts from the patent applications. I have done a story on Google’s acquisitions on my blog- actually more than 35 stories on Google.
Keyhole was acquired by Google (responsible for much of their Google Maps/ Google Earth satellite data)
Wow – this is so well done. Thanx for the abstracs – this post makes me love blogs even more.
Thanks, all for visiting and for linking. I’m overwhelmed by the response this post has received.
I’ll be keeping an eye out for future stories on Google from you. Thanks.
Thanks. I love the medium of blogging myself. 🙂
I left a response on your blog, but I’ll repeat it here. You must have skipped over my short entry about Keyhole above. It’s worth a considerably longer entry though, and I’m going to try to put one together some time soon. Great technology there.
Great stuff Bill! Particularly the info on Urchin. I saw on threadwatch where Google is enhancing their cookie tracking with Clickstreams from Urchin technology
Since the state of cookies is in serious jeopardy…I can see where clickstreams may allow Google to track where others can’t. http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/5801.asp
If you’re getting a little paranoid like me, you might want to try this extension for Firefox. It’s got some neat characteristics when you use the search box at Google. Don’t forget to open it to customize the options.
The install is the green box at the top right.
Happy New Year Bill!
Happy new year to you, too. Hope the new year is a very good one for you.
Thanks for the links. It is an interesting direction that Google is heading down. It’s difficult not to get a little paranoid.
They know what they are doing! 😉
thanks for that info. Keep updating
Thank you for your nice info. ,
I have a presentation at school,
it’s really hepling me!
I read somewhere that Google might be interesting in acquiring Alexa sometime in the future. That really will make an impressive business portfolio – what I’d give to be an Alexa shareholder if that happened!
I hadn’t heard that rumor. That would be interesting.
Wow. When you put all the acquisitions into one place it makes for some reading. Great idea that Google acquired Jotspot — a great little tool it is.
Very interesting article. I used it for my article: Les acquisitions de Google
It looks as if the US Justice Department is taking a closer look at Google and the DoubleClick acquisition. My thinking is the deal will go through, but maybe with some caveats attached. Read this.
It’s not unreasonable for the FTC to look into the deal, considering its size and the potential impact that it could have.
I suspect that it will go through too, as well as there being some conditions attached.
Wow that must have taken some time to compile! Thanks. This is a must-read for anyone interested in Google and search engine optimization!
Thanks for all of the great info and your obvious hard work. But I am wondering… how do you suppose Google finds the small companies they are acquiring. I mean, aren’t some of these companies like 3 members strong? How does a Google find them?
Thanks. There are a number of different paths that Google may have followed in many of these acquisitions.
Some of the companies that Google has acquired have worked with Google on some projects, and it appears that it seemed to make sense for Google to acquire the companies.
Some of the acquisitions may have happened because the people involved in the startups were known to Google, and Google was interested in hiring them for their technical knowledge as well as the companies that they started.
Some companies make it well known that the the technology that they are developing is available for licensing or purchase to the right bidders at the right price.
There are a number of other potential scenarios, but these are three that I’ve mostly seen lately.
Thanks for your response.
But, in a blog article I just read at http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_40/b3953093.htm “Managing Google’s Idea Factory” it eludes to the fact, many potential companies are approaching Google with ideas in the hopes of being acquired.
So, I guess my question here is, where does one email their ideas to Google with the hopes of catching their eye? Strangely enough, I have been searching for this on Google and I can’t turn up anything tangible.
What you say makes perfect sense.
There really isn’t one road map or plan, Michael.
I’ve talked with a few people who have been trying the same thing.
Google isn’t in business to acquire companies. That’s not the core focus of what they do, but rather an incidental aspect of their business – that they may find a technology, or potential employee, and pursue them through an acquisition approach.
There may be a number of different ways to catch the eye of someone at Google, but I don’t think that there is an institutionalized approach at all. You want someone at Google to notice you, figure out where the folks at Google go for information, for ideas, or to network, and make yourself an attractive target for their attentions.
You’re welcome, Michael.
I am looking to build a startup company around email retieval algorithm.
PLEASE CALL ME (408) 335-4749 or reply to
Hi Bill, I didn’t know that you were constantly updating this post, good stuff.
A lot of people seem to find their way to this post, so I figured that I would try to keep it up to date.
With all the insider stock sales by Google insiders….could Google conspire to fund and develop companies, using its technology, the companies then cross invest with each other through shell companies. When the companies has built enough market share, Google buys or merges with them, ultimately increasing Googles balance sheet falsely?
There are at least a couple of ex-googlers who are acting as angel investors, helping the development of technology that may just be in an area that Google may find of interest.
Buy instead of build it. It can be cheaper.
SEO by the Sea gives us a comprehensive list with some insight into the purchases and Google themselves. Thank you for your effort!!! This post is extremely valuable to people in tech and some business industries. Thanks a lot!
Great post and takes a lot of time to digest, I’m sure it took you even longer to research.
Would this soon be classified as an act of monopoly or at least trying too? The internet crosses many boundaries and some laws are very different from one countries to another. It is possible to hear the praise in the US but a slapped in the pocket in EU.
I’m sure a lot of government bodies are watching this development.
How does one define a monopoly these days?
Google has made a number of acquisitions that seem pretty smart. They’ve also done a lot to attract users while there are a number of alternatives available to searchers.
I had absolutely no idea that Google had acquired so many companies. It almost seems like they’re not going in any single direction with all this, but truly diversifying their portfolio of businesses. How many of these continue to be profitable, however?
I have a little catching up to do with this post to include the last couple of acquisitions, but you raise a couple of really good points.
There are many different reasons why Google may have acquired some of these businesses.
Google has purchased companies to acquire their technology in some cases, instead of their income stream. In other instances, businesses were purchased because of the knowledge and skills of the people who worked for the companies. Some purchases may have been made to acquire intellectual property, such as patent filings.
It is interesting seeing how some of the businesses and technologies do end up getting used by Google, though for some of the acquisitions that Google has made, we may never know exactly what the incentive behind the purchase may have been.
Thank you, Issac.
So my big question to you Bill, is have you seen any ways in which they (Google) is using these acquisitions to better the search results? Or are they just using them to gain the technology behind them to create their own versions of these websites?
Hi Answer Blip,
It is a big questions. I can give you a few examples… Paid search probably benefited from the purchase of Applied Semantics, we’ve been told that the Orion technology now powers some of the snippets that we see, Google Maps and Google Earth rely upon technologies from acquisitions. Other acquistions don’t seem to have gone as far, like Dodgeball.
Wow.. this is an older post, but relevant still today as just today I see stories of Google actively looking to buy up more companies. What they are doing is getting lots of ideas, and then making sure they own those ideas so nobody else can. Even if they do not end up doing anything with the company they bought, they always have the idea and rights to use it, which is what makes them an internet giant.
I’m pretty tempted to update this to show the more recent acquisitions as well. There has been some news that Google may be actively making some public transactions to acquire new companies. Google has made some pretty interesting acquisitions.
I want to know what kind of tools/languages were used in developing the software that were acquired by Google. Was it radically open source like Ruby on Rails/php, controlled open source like Sun Java, or proprietary like Microsoft .NET? Do they really care about the environment or is that they are trying to get the underlying technology or the user base. I am trying to build specific application on top of Google Health. I would apprecaite your reply. You can also contact me via my personal email account.
Google really hasn’t shared much in the way that they bring many of the technologies they’ve acquired into use. I’ve seen some information suggesting that some applications were rewritten from one type of code into another, but not very much. Chances are that the kinds of tools and languages used covered a fairly wide mix.
Some acquisitions were likely to acquire technology, others possibly the user base, and more than a couple to, in effect, hire the people working for those companies.
Let the giant becoming bigger as he wanted to be.
But we heard that Google was struggling hard in China. Seems that the technology that Google have from all of these acquisitions didn’t bring more power and energy to be the number one search engine in China. It’s really a big homework..
I’m not sure that most of the acquisitions that Google pursued were aimed at increasing traffic for them in China. I have seen a number of patent filings from Google that have shown an interest in improving search results for Chinese searchers, but given some recent statements by Google about China, I don’t know how much of an effort they will make in the future to compete there.
It’s interesting to see for how long google has been working that way. but i guess it’s time for a change, since facebook is catching up pretty quick… 🙂 i guess it soon will be Google vs. Facebook in a fight for world domination 😉 regards, Jonny
Hi SEO wien,
Facebook has increased it’s visibility on the Web considerably. Google and Facebook both offer very different experiences on the Web, but they do compete with each other for attention. Interesting times.
True. I think facebook will win, because every day there are more new people using facebook than google. but we’ll see. indeed – very interesting times.
Hi SEO wien,
I think that they are different enough at this point that both can continue to thrive, at least for a while.
Whoa …. incredible in the fast moving wonderful web that a post made 5 years ago is still so relevant today.
You wonder sometimes if Google buys people out “just because they can”? Perhaps stifle real development and innovation to protect their own corporate asses? (Can I say asses? Said it now!). Not that there’s anything new in that. You only have to look at how a few years back the multi-national oil giants crushed anyone who even dared suggest there was an alternative to fossil fuels – now they’ve gone full circle and embrace those technologies with open arms and countless press releases.
The google monster needs watching closely. I’m not sure exactly the best way to watch them or who is the best to do so – certainly not some government quango!
I hold my hands up up and admit niavety when it comes to the internet industry – is there a body that monitors Google et al aquisitions?
Google does seem to have been on a spree lately, acquiring a number of new companies in the past year or so.
I’ve been tempted to update this post, and probably will sometime in the near future.
Looking at some of the companies that they’ve acquired recently, it seems like their acquisitions are mostly aimed at finding people to work with them who have technical expertise in particular fields more than attempting to squash competition. But, there may be an element of what you suggest. Maybe it would be good to create a new post, and look back at some of these acquisitions rather than updating this one.
Phew! I was gonna think and comment on this simply because just like John said, even though it’s 5 years old, this is still relevant today. Google is like the cookie monster imho. They’re putting their hands on everything! Either they’re acquiring renowned companies or starting their own service in that field…
Google has gone through quite a purchasing spree lately. It’s definitely either time for me to update this page, or to create a new post.
Hi Bill! When considering the age of the post it is amazing how relevant most of this information still is! Maybe an update of this page is therefore better than a new post unless you include all the information from here in the new post as well. Certainly Google is permanently optimizing itÂ´s algorithm and by acquiring new companies they control more and more important patents which makes it more difficult for competitors like Bing/Yahoo or Yandex. ASK already gave up.
As others before me have said, this post is still relevant today. But you have to give Google credit for their vision – what I mean by that? If you have the money, you can buy a lot of things, but to incorporate them into one big company, you need to know what you are doing. I have respect for Google because they obviously have vision and if they fail at some project (for example Wave), they are smart enough to admit it didn’t work out and move on.
Hey Bill, Google’s back on an acquisitions spree, according to details released in a regulatory filing on October 30th 2010. The company has completed a grand total of 40 different acquisitions over the past three financial quartersâ€”a dramatic swing-up compared to the company’s acquisitions for any financial year prior.
Hi Bill, some 5 years on from your original post, and a few years on from your last update, this remains a fascinating post to read, simply to reflect upon the aquisitions that Google developed into mainstream tools, services and physical products (Urchin, Android, etc), and those it allowed to wilt. A big ask, but I’d love to see a further update to this, because the speculation on Google’s future direction is great fun apart from anything else. As I say, still fascinating to read now, ‘though, so thanks for keeping this up online.
Google has been on a rampage when it comes to acquiring new companies and technology. It’s a little hard keeping up with all of them.
An update on the newer acquisitions is in the works. I’ve been figuring that timing it near the fifth anniversary of this post might make some sense.
Hi Bill – great post. Its so strange looking back at this post and (as a few of the guys above have said) seeing that its still relevant today, with Google continuing to make acquisitions across different markets.
Similarly to those in your post, it still tends to be on a technology basis that companies are acquired; however they certainly seem more outlandish over the past few years, such as buying out Slide.com (a social gaming site) for $182m without any clear strategy based on their current suite.
It would be great to hear your thoughts on this.
Thanks. I’m working on a update to this post to try to capture the newer acquisitions.
It’s hard to tell whether Google has made some acquisitions for the technology involved, or for the expertise of the people working at the companies acquired, or both. I’m not sure that the techology always needs to be a good fit, if the people who come with the companies may have the ability to help Google work on existing projects.
Great post found after searching for how many companies Google owns, OMG Google own half the web , Is there an updated version of there purchases? I just been reading they have bought a price comparison site here in the UK http://www.hobo-web.co.uk/seo-blog/beatthatquote-com/#comment-24293 wonder if that gets ranked top in the near future.
I’m working on an update, but it’s taking some time, and Google is on a rampage acquiring new companies, which is slowing me down some more. 🙂
I’m with Duncan here, an update with a summary of strategy would be great. What interest me is that a few days ago they purchased PushLife for there Android app which has elements of mobile social sharing. But yes it seems they are making aquisitions left and right every 2 weeks or so.
Google’s rate of acquiring new companies is making it hard for me to come out with that update. Hopefully I’ll have some time in the near future. 🙂
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