Google M&A Fortune-telling Merry-go-round

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2011-04-21 Print this article Print

Anyone else think Google will become more or less acquisitive with Larry Page as CEO?

Page replaced Eric Schmidt at the controls April 4. Since that time, the company only announced mobile music startup PushLife as an acquisition, but the company has $36.7 billion in cash to play with in M&A and investing in wind farms and solar towers and such.

AllThingsDigital had fun with this working list of potential buys, some of which are old hat and obvious, some of which are not so much. Let's run through them.

Twitter: From a grab-instant-social-credibility standpoint, this would be great, but it could cost $10 billion. ATD wrote:

With Facebook emerging as a perceived and perhaps real competitive threat to Google's core business, the company needs a strong social service. Twitter, with its natural rival positioning against Facebook, would give it that along with loads of real-time search data Google could likely monetize far more easily than Twitter itself.

Perhaps, but it's managerial situation is ulcer-inducing to say the least. Plus, that's a lot of money for a company's whose $45 million in 2010 revenues were but a fraction of the fledgling Facebook's ad sales.

LinkedIn: My problem with this choice, and I think LinkedIn is a useful tool, is that it's too geared toward the enterprise and I fear Page isn't particularly interested in helping people network to find jobs or for HR headhunters to fill them.

Groupon: Been there, failed at that with a $6 billion whiff. I actually find Groupon infinitely more interesting than Facebook because it solved the social commerce equation. Facebook has solved social, is grasping at commerce.

Google has unfortunately failed to solve either, but it's geolocal stuff -- Google Places, Hotpot, Offers, are geared toward addressing that gap.

Admeld: Never heard of it, but ATD's logic is sound. Google has been known to buy an ad company or two. Hello, DoubleClick!

Sprint: I said three years ago Google should consider this to power it's own network and bolster Android. Of course, that was before Android became Epic Win.

Aside from carrier infrastructure, Google would have a sledgehammer of a mobile ad platform. It could sell consumers phones for a pittance and run ads via Google Web services against them. It would be one big extension for Google's AdMob platform.

LightSquared or Clearwire: I used to think Clearwire made sense before its finance flagged, but Sprint continues to prop it up and Google remains an investor in the 4G tech heavy.

Lightsquared might make more sense, having the advantage of being young and unburdened by failure.

WebMD: Online health has equaled Epic Fail for Google to date. Stay away!

IAC/InterActiveCorp: Another old Internet company with the stink of failure eclipsed only by Yahoo. has gone through a revolving door so many times, and while some of the properties are serious players, it's still a Web incubator a la CMGi in 2000.

An Unnamed Alternative Energy Company: Why not? Google can buy and sell power and has pumped $350 million into clean energy to date, so why not harness it and make some money via Google Energy in the offing.

ATD asks who is missing. Pick it. Anything that helps Google get ahead in mobile versus Apple and the others. Color is a nice augmented reality entree as a mobile photo sharing app.

LivingSocial might make a nice alternative to Groupon, but so would a lot of other mobile, social and location-sharing apps Amazon, eBay, Groupon and others are interested in.

Ebay just bought Where, Wal-Mart just bought Kosmix. You get the idea. It's all rooted in mobile, social and local and Google could bone up in these areas to fortify its contextual discovery capabilities. |

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