Google is one of several angel investors with a stake in Pixazza, a startup making technology that is supposed to allow publishers of e-commerce Websites and other sites to display information about the contents of an image.
But if you set aside DoubleClick and Postini, which were hardly startups when Google picked them up to respectively dominate ad serving and shore up its e-mail offering, do the startups that Google buys just disappear?
Google has made more than 50 acquisitions since 2001–that’s close to Larry Ellison territory–but you’d be hard-pressed to name a couple of dozen, let alone 50 new applications trotted out by Google in the intervening time.
But that’s not really what Google does. What it does is take the technology and refashion it to suit its strategy. Take JotSpot, a vendor of wiki software Google bought in 2006. It took a while, but the technology finally emerged as part of Google Sites in February 2008. Adscape, for which it paid $23 million in 2007, became AdSense. GrandCentral, a $45 million purchase in July 2007, was just unveiled as Google Voice.
Then there are the seeming orphans, like mobile browser vendor Reqwireless, acquired in 2005. People may have been wondering if Google was just throwing away money, but little did they know that little Zingku and Jaiku, both acquired in the fall of 2007, would soon be on their way, helping complete Google’s mobile technology stack.
That, then, seems to be the pattern. Unlike many software vendors that bolt new acquisitions as add-ons to their stack, Google takes its time and strips away and then reuses the acquired code to bolster existing technology.
It turns out that Google is where startups go to die, and then get reborn.