Google Ventures a Threat to Twitter?
Google's new venture fund will finance just about any kind of project its board likes, although, as the Washington Post points out, it doesn't own the domain name for googleventures.com--yet.
Indeed, Google is likely to get its hands on that URL, even though it doesn't seem like the domain is being squatted by a troll:
Google's Terms of Service prohibit the use of "any of Google's trade names, trade marks, service marks, logos, domain names, and other distinctive brand features," so this is clearly a violation.
The new fund does, however, beg the question of why Google is choosing to spend its free cash this way, rather than going the usual acquisition route. One of the most popular memes of the day is the rumor that Google will/might/should buy Twitter.
Owning Twitter would make a lot of sense for Google; even forgetting for the moment Twitter's ridiculous growth spurt, the micro-blogging company has adopted a business model that's very similar to Google's: Go for mass adoption without worrying about monetization in the short term, then create business applications as needs and opportunities come into focus. Twitter's recent decision to offer business services (I'm only guessing, but they will probably include a private Twitter network behind the firewall, and/or search and analytics of the public Twitter stream) fits nicely into this paradigm.
And this paradigm would fit nicely with other Google business services, including secure e-mail and shared documents. A Twitter-like service would also help Google develop its somewhat atrophied social networking activity (Orkut, anyone?) and stave off competition from surging Facebook.
So why isn't Google snapping up Twitter? Maybe because it thinks it can build the same kind of service on its own--or pay someone else to build it for them. That would be a lot more cost-effective in the long run than paying an exorbitant premium for Twitter; even without owning 100 percent of a startup, buying one in which it already owns a significant share would end up costing it less.