There's been a bit of a frenzy of acquisition announcements over the past few weeks. In fact it seems as though Google are buying a company every week. However it doesn't just stop at Google, and plenty of other companies are getting in on the buy-out game.
Google buys GreenBorder Technologies
Approx Date: 27 May 2007
Google has purchased Green Border – a company that sells "browser virtualisation security software". That's a bit of a mouthful, but as far as I can gather it entails adding an extra layer of protection to your web browsing experience. It separates everything you do on the web from your desktop computing and prevents any malicious entities from being able to damage or invade your system.
It sounds quite strange, but I can see it being quite effective. Of course, one would imagine that the OS should be solid enough to not allow such interaction, but potentially that's just windows for you 😉
There is some speculation going around that Google may look to enter the anti-virus/anti-spyware market.
Currently the Green Border site is not allowing new sign-ups and is only offering support.
Google buys Feedburner
Date: 1st June 2007
Price: $100 million
From the Google Blog:
As you know, we're constantly looking for ways to identify and offer new tools for content creators and website publishers. Likewise, we constantly aim to give AdWords advertisers broader distribution to an even wider audience of users. For these reasons, we're very pleased to tell you that we've just acquired FeedBurner.
This looks like a very smart buy from Google. Feedburner is used by about 500,000 people to publish their feeds, and this will probably enable tight integration of AdWords into Feedburner feeds.
In fact I would imagine that this could end up being quite the combined team, obviously not so good for the feed reader, who'll probably start seeing more advertisements in their RSS readers, but I think publishers will probably see huge benefit from this one.
Yet another case of Google edging that little bit further into everyone's lives (whether they're aware of it or not).
Google buys Panoramio
Approx Date: 31st May 2007
This acquisition doesn't strike me as too strange. You may recognise Panoramio if you've ever used Google Earth. Their software links photos with geographical locations and allows you to click on their little compass logo to view and image from that place.
Panoramio's own site integrates their service into Google Maps and based on the cross way integration it looks like a fairly common sense purchase for Google.
CBS buys Last.fm
Date: 30th May 2007
Price: $280 million
This came as some surprise to me. I guess I just never considered this service would lose its independent status. However with somewhere in the region of 15 million listeners every month on Last.fm, I suppose it only makes sense that it would attract the attention of some larger media corporations.
It's hard to know how this will affect the end user. I doubt there'll be any noticeable ramifications for the foreseeable future, and as long as the audio scrobbling tool remains the track analysis method, then we can remain safe from having to worry about DRM and track ownership coming into question.
Bay buys StumbleUpon
Date: 30th May 2007
Price: $75 million
The most surprising of all these acquisitions is this. I've been trying to fathom what eBay would want or use StumbleUpon for. eBay say that:
“StumbleUpon is a great fit within our goal of pioneering new communities based on commerce and sustained by trust,” said Michael Buhr, senior director, eBay. “StumbleUpon’s downloadable toolbar provides an engaging and unique experience to its users, but it is the similarities in our approaches to the concept of community that make it such a compelling addition to eBay.”
So I can understand the idea of communities and the importance of trust from eBay's point of view. However I am unsure how commerce fits in to the current de-facto usage of StumbleUpon.
So far the only concept I can imagine is people being able to essentially stumble around eBay, being shown products that people have given their thumbs up to or reviewed. However, given eBay's main status as being an auction site, the single auction items could disappear before anyone has stumbled onto them.
I'll be keeping an ear out for how this is changing and affecting things.
Fox buys Photobucket and Flextor
Date: 30th May 2007
Fox Interactive Media (FIM), a division of News Corporation, today announced separate agreements to acquire Photobucket (http://www.photobucket.com) and Flektor, Inc. (http://www.flektor.com). Photobucket is one of the Web's most popular photo- and video-sharing services, and Flektor is a next-generation Web site that provides users with a suite of Web-based tools to transform their photos and videos into dynamic slideshows, postcards, live interactive presentations and video mash-ups. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.
"The acquisition of these two companies is a perfect strategic fit for us that reinforces FIM's leadership in user-generated content," said Peter Levinsohn, President of Fox Interactive Media. "As a leading site for creative expression Photobucket extends our reach among personal media sharing enthusiasts and the innovative new entrant Flektor brings highly-differentiated new tools to the table that will drive the next generation. Together, they represent a powerful combination and we are thrilled for them to join our network."
Looks like News Corporation just got a little bit bigger, and this is certainly a big purchase considering the number of Photobucket users they've just scooped – about 42 million. It's not just users either. Apparently 7.5 million photos and videos are uploaded to Photobucket every day.
Phew. That's everything. Obviously we're not dealing with giant acquisitions like YouTube (by Google for $1.6 billion), Skype (by eBay for $2.6 billion), DoubleClick (by Google for $3.1 billion), and aQuantive (by Microsoft for $6 billion!).
I recently heard someone suggesting that Feedburner should have held out for more money, stating that of the $100 million, between staffing payouts etc., the management team would only get about $10 million each. I tried to point out that possibly people were in need of a reality check and that as far as I'm concerned $10 million would be more than enough for me to never have to work another day in my life!