10 Web Companies That Google Should Acquire
10 Web Companies That Google Should Acquire
by Don Reisinger
Facebook will be a costly acquisition, but it's one that Google should pursue. Not only does it have the cash (and stock) to afford Facebook, it also has the vision the company needs to ensure it achieves a positive return on its investment. Some might be suspect of a Facebook acquisition, since Google started Buzz to compete with the world's most popular social network. But Buzz is a hobbled alternative to Facebook that hasn't gained the kind of traction Google had hoped for its social network. If the search giant really wants to make its mark in social networking, a Facebook acquisition would be a smart move.
Pandora would be an outstanding acquisition for Google. Although it would need to fend off record labels that would undoubtedly come calling, the company could finally make a sizable push in the online-streaming business. YouTube is great, but it does video. Pandora, thanks in part to Apple's iPhone, is quickly becoming the go-to music-streaming site on the Web. By acquiring it, Google can capitalize on that traffic, make it a key component in Android OS, and perhaps best of all, have the streaming service that outperforms Apple's recently acquired (and discontinued) Lala.
Twitter is another company worth acquiring. Although it doesn't provide the same value as Facebook, and it might not have the same lasting power as the world's largest social network, Google could capitalize heavily off the site's user base. Unfortunately for Twitter, it has yet to effectively monetize the site. Part of that is due to its general lack of understanding on what it needs to do to make the service extremely profitable. Google doesn't suffer from that problem. It already has the advertising platform in place to capitalize on day one.
Zoho is the Web-based alternative to Google Docs. And although the service doesn't get the same kind of attention as its chief competitor, it's arguably a more robust service. In fact, Zoho features the standard word-processing, spreadsheet and presentation applications, but adds other productivity tools, such as a note taker, a Wiki service, an online planner and much more. Users can even manage invoices and create enterprise reports. Zoho Docs is what Google Docs might eventually be. But with an acquisition, Google could get there much sooner.
Mozilla might not seem like the most obvious candidate for a Google acquisition, but further inspection of such a deal might reveal why it is such a worthwhile venture. Currently, Google is offering its Chrome browser, which by most accounts, compares quite well to the competition in the marketplace. But Firefox is still the leading alternative to Internet Explorer. And like Google, Mozilla has committed its browser to the open-source community. It seems like an ideal fit. And that's before Microsoft is added to the equation. Google wants to annihilate Microsoft in every market both companies compete in. It can start achieving that goal with the help of Mozilla's team.
Widgetbox could be a key component in Google's Web strategy. The site, which allows users to create dynamic Web applications for "just about any Website," is one of the more unique services on the Web. By acquiring Widgetbox, Google could tap into the organization's growing user base and play a major role in the widgets and Web apps that find their way across the Web. Plus, the company could use its advertising platform to make the value proposition for developers just a little bit greater. Widgetbox certainly wouldn't be as flashy of an acquisition as some others, but it could significantly improve Google's Web standing.
Any Major Gaming Social Network
Gaming social networks are cheap, which makes them a fine option for Google. But there is a key reason why the company should consider buying a gaming social network: Apple is getting into it. And if it finds a way to incorporate that into iPhone OS and make it a key component in its mobile strategy, it could be troublesome for Google and Android OS. Plus, online casual gaming is growing at a rapid rate. Google, as the premier company on the Internet, should be a part of that. Which gaming social network Google acquires isn't all that important, since few have gained real traction. But it should acquire such a company sooner rather than later.
Google needs to work its way into travel booking. The reason why is simple: it's losing traffic on its own search engine whenever folks go to a site such as Expedia to see what fares are available. A Google acquisition of Expedia would be even more worthwhile for the company if it considers the travel site's history. Expedia was launched by Microsoft and spun off by the search giant in 2002 to USA Networks for $1.372 billion. It's not a public company with no sizable investment from Microsoft. By acquiring Expedia, Google could cause a few groans in Redmond by taking what used to be Microsoft's. Not only would Expedia help Google attract more users to its sites, but it could also bolster Chrome OS, which is scheduled to hit store shelves later this year. If a Web app featuring Google's travel search is included in Chrome OS, it will certainly add value to the software.
If Google does acquire a travel site, picking up a user-review site such as Yelp wouldn't be such a bad idea. Although Yelp has caught some fire recently over its alleged advertising practices, the site is a destination for millions of folks around the globe who want to learn more about the places they plan to visit. With the right strategy, Google could not only allow users to find the travel itineraries they're looking for, they could also tap into user reviews from Yelp to help them make a more informed decision. It's that kind of end-to-end experience that Google is known for.
Disqus, which provides social-commenting systems to Websites, is arguably one of the most attractive Google targets. The real value of a Disqus acquisition is that it allows Google to integrate advertising into the comment system. Upon doing so, it can bring its platform to more sites through a tool that a Website could use to increase its own ad revenue. Google's favorite targets must always improve the company's ability to increase ad revenue. Disqus would achieve that.