Aug. 6, 2014, 2:59 PM
- Google (GOOG +0.4%) has acquired Emu, a mobile messaging/SMS app that tries to stand out by integrating a virtual assistant service.
- With the help of A.I., Emu analyzes conversations to help schedule appointments, make reservations, pull up movie info, and share one's location, among other things (shades of Google Now). CEO Gummi Hafsteinsson: "I felt that you kind of had to engage [Apple's] Siri all the time, and I wanted to create an assistant that was more in the background and proactive."
- Mobile messaging has been seen as a weak spot for Google, given the huge user bases claimed by 3rd-party platforms such as WhatsApp (500M+ active users), Line, WeChat, iMessage, BBM, and Facebook Messenger. Google was rumored to have shown interest in WhatsApp before Facebook struck a $19B deal to acquire it, but has denied making a bid.
- Though Google bundles its Hangouts app (integrated Gchat, SMS, and video calls) with Android phones, reviews have been mixed. Emu's technology appears a logical fit for future Hangouts releases.
Jul. 24, 2014, 5:11 PM
- VentureBeat reports Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has reached a deal to buy live game-broadcast/streaming leader Twitch for ~$1B.
- Variety and The Verge reported in May Google, via YouTube, was in talks to acquire Twitch for $1B. The site claims 50M+ monthly users, including over 1.1M who broadcast their gaming activity, and has 4K+ content provider partners (inc. major sites such as GameSpot and Joystiq) whom it typically shares ad revenue with.
- Twitch has thus far successfully fended off a competitive challenge from YouTube, which reportedly had $1.5B in 2013 net revenue and is now run by former Google ad/commerce product chief Susan Wojcicki. Twitch's heavy reliance on the coveted 18-34 demographic hasn't gone unnoticed.
Jul. 1, 2014, 4:15 PM
- Google (GOOG +1.3%) says it will "explore ways" to integrate Songza, whose Android/iOS apps (5.5M MAUs) deliver human-curated music stations based on mood and activity, with Google Play Music. "We view the Songza acquisition as a way to further enhance our radio feature by adding their expertise on context."
- The Web giant adds it will also look at ways to use Songza's curation/music recommendation expertise within YouTube and other products. Google has already announced plans to launch a YouTube music subscription service later this summer.
- No purchase price is given for the deal. The NY Post previously reported Google had offered $15M.
- Pandora (P), which currently has 77M active users to Songza's 5.5M, is down 2.1% AH.
- Update: The NYT reports Google paid more than $39M for Songza.
Jun. 20, 2014, 10:05 PM
- Google's (GOOG) Nest Labs agrees to buy video monitoring and security startup Dropcam for $555M, in a push to become the dominant operating system for connected devices in and around the home.
- Nest, which makes smart thermostat and smoke alarms, will work with Dropcam to "reinvent products that will help shape the future of the conscious home," Nest's Matt Rogers says.
- Nest was bought by GOOG earlier this year for $3.2B.
Jun. 19, 2014, 2:43 PM
- mDialog's Smart Stream platform inserts, delivers, and measures the performance of targeted online video ads over multiple device types (PCs, TVs, mobile). Clients include NBC, Fox, and the WSJ.
- Google's (GOOG -0.3%) DoubleClick unit says it'll "work with the mDialog team to incorporate their technology and expertise into our DoubleClick product suite." Google already sells an estimated $5B+/year in video ads via YouTube, and is now making a stronger push to grow video ad sales on non-Google properties.
- The Web giant bought ad measurement tech provider Adometry in May. Tremor Video (TRMR +1%) and YuMe (YUME -2.7%) are two independent, publicly-traded, video ad tech plays.
- Previous: YouTube, others go after TV ad dollars
Jun. 10, 2014, 1:42 PM
- The acquisition price for the satellite imagery/analytics provider is well below the ~$1B mentioned in a prior TechCrunch report.
- Google (GOOG -0.5%) declares Skybox's satellites "will help keep our maps accurate with up-to-date imagery," and could also be used in time to "help improve Internet access and disaster relief ."
- The deal comes barely a week after the WSJ reported Google plans to spend ~$1B to $3B+ to build a satellite fleet to provide Web access to underserved regions. Skybox, for its part, has already placed an order for 13 small satellites to complement one that it's in the air and another that's set to launch.
- Google Maps/Earth imagery provider DigitalGlobe (DGI -2.5%) has dipped on the news.
Jun. 6, 2014, 1:38 PM
- The NY Post reports Google (GOOG +0.3%) is in talks to buy streaming radio service Songza; one source reports the offer price is $15M.
- Songa's Android/iOS apps offer curated radio stations based on mood and activity - Beats Music, soon to be in Apple's hands, does something similar.
- The company has 5.5M active users - a base much smaller than Pandora's (P +1.2%) 77M. Pandora has dipped slightly in response to the report, but remains up on the day.
- Buying Songza would provide a shot in the arm for Google's music efforts. All signs suggest the company's Spotify-like All Access music service has seen limited uptake since launching last year.
- A reported YouTube music service (would feature both music videos and audio-only streaming) might fare better, if Google can reach terms with music labels.
May 27, 2014, 2:33 PM
- Several sources tell The Information Google's (GOOG +1.7%) newly-acquired Nest Labs unit is planning to expand into the home security market, and has considered buying Wi-Fi security camera maker Dropcam.
- Dropcam raised $30M last year at a high 9-digit valuation. It offers HD cameras (priced at $150-$200) that are backed up by mobile apps that deliver sound/activity alerts, and a cloud-based recording service. Ambarella's (AMBA +1.9%) video-processing SoCs power the cameras.
- The report follows one stating Apple plans to unveil a home automation software platform for iDevices next week. Apple's solution is said to interact with hardware from 3rd-party OEMs.
- TechCrunch has previously reported Google plans to turn Nest, led by former iPod creator Tony Fadell and featuring many other ex-Apple employees, into its core hardware R&D unit.
May 23, 2014, 10:09 AM
- TechCrunch reports Google (GOOG - unchanged) is close to buying satellite imagery startup Skybox Imaging; a source estimates the price is around $1B.
- The Information reported of Google's interest in Skybox in April. Aside from providing high-res imagery that could bolster Google Maps/Earth, Skybox provides related analytics services aimed at enterprises/institutions.
- TechCrunch observes Skybox currently relies on just one satellite, and needs more funding as it gets set to launch a second one in June. The company recently placed an order for 13 small satellites.
- DigitalGlobe (DGI +0.3%), which sold off when The Information's report came out, is taking the TechCrunch report in stride. The company is a major imagery supplier for Maps/Earth.
- Separately, the WSJ reports Google's Project Tango, launched as an effort to create Android phones able to track motion and provide 3D visual maps of one's surroundings, now extends to tablets.
- A 7" prototype tablet sporting "two back cameras, infrared depth sensors and advanced software that can capture precise [3D] images of objects" is said to be on tap. There's a good chance OmniVision (OVTI +1.1%), already a Tango partner, is the image sensor supplier.
May 21, 2014, 3:19 AM
- Google (GOOG, GOOGL) needs $20-30B of its foreign earnings to finance acquisitions, which is why it had parked $35B abroad as at the end of March.
- The search giant also plans to use $2-4B for capex and $12-14B for an R&D cost-sharing agreement.
- Google made the disclosures in a December letter to regulators that it published yesterday. The letter comes amid controversy about how U.S. corporations keep large funds overseas in order to avoid U.S. taxes.
- In addition, Google revealed that it passed on a $4-5B acquisition deal for a foreign company in late 2013, although it didn't provide the name of the target.
May 18, 2014, 9:22 PM
- Variety reports Google (GOOG), via YouTube, has reached a deal to buy Twitch, a site that lets users live-stream their PC/Xbox/PlayStation gameplay, for over $1B in cash. But the WSJ reports Google's talks with Twitch are still "at an early stage;" the paper provides no acquisition price.
- Twitch claims 45M+ monthly users, including over 1M who upload/stream videos, sometimes for widely-watched competitive events. The company claims its broadcaster count tripled in 2013, and that its average user watches 95 minutes/day.
- Twitch also has a partner network of 4K+ content providers - it typically shares ad revenue with them - and integration deals with various game developers. Its user base skews heavily towards the 18-34 demographic whose love of online video has drawn the attention of advertisers.
- Variety's sources state YouTube (1B+ MAUs) is prepping for a regulatory challenge to the Twitch deal. The online video giant is no stranger to hosting live game broadcasts, but its market share is well below Twitch's.
- The reports come as top YouTube content providers such as Maker Studios and Fullscreen receive M&A interest from media giants.
- Update: The Verge reports Google is close to a $1B deal for Twitch, and that it beat out Microsoft and other would-be suitors.
May 16, 2014, 4:44 PM
- Google (GOOG +0.1%) has bought Quest Visual, maker of an iOS app (Word Lens) that analyzes/translates text picked up by a device's camera, and places the translated text within a revised image.
- Google, which has shown a keen interest in applying A.I./machine learning to a variety of applications, plans to integrate Word Lens' technology with Google Translate. The acquisition follows the launch of Project Tango, an effort to enable Android phones that can create visual maps of a user's surroundings.
- Separately, Google has hired Ivy Ross, formerly a marketing exec for several retailers, to head its Glass unit.
- Ross, who has also worked at eyewear firms Bausch & Lomb and Outlook, arrives as Glass deals with some well-known image issues ahead of its commercial launch. The $1,500 Explorer Edition of Glass just became available to the general public.
May 7, 2014, 3:55 PM
- Google (GOOG -1.4%) has bought Stackdriver, a developer of software that monitors the performance and reliability of apps running on cloud infrastructure/app platforms.
- Google naturally plans to offer Stackdriver's tools to developers leveraging its own cloud infrastructure and app development platforms, which received a big revamp in March. The acquisition follows the 2013 purchase of Web app server developer Talaria.
- The Web giant has also bought Appetas, a startup that offers restaurants tools for quickly building mobile-friendly sites and accepting reservations/orders through them. Appetas will be shutting down its service as its team joins Google, which has invested plenty in its local ad/content offerings.
- The purchases follow recent deals to acquire ad measurement tech provider Adometry and online retail analytics software firm Rangespan. Shares are lower on a down day for tech, but are faring better than those of many Internet peers.
May 6, 2014, 12:49 PM
- Google (GOOG -1.2%) has bought Adometry, developer of an online ad measurement platform (known as Attribute) that takes in data from over a dozen different sources (inc. online, offline, and mobile channels) to figure out whether an ad was viewed, and whether it led to a sale.
- Adometry runs algorithms over massive datasets to determine which online/offline channels (if any) deserve credit for producing a conversion. The startup claims the ability of its algorithms to "work at the most granular level" yields unmatched accuracy.
- Google has been stepping up its efforts lately to improve ad measurement, with the goals of improving ad prices and compelling marketers to direct more of their budgets to online channels. The company is already running a pilot program to figure out the extent to which search ad sales drive offline purchases, and has partnered with Nielsen to develop TV-like ratings tools for YouTube.
- The Adometry deal shortly follows the purchase of Rangespan, a provider of analytics software that helps online retailers gauge product demand and make inventory decisions. Google is expected to use Rangespan to help product listing ad (PLA) clients get more bang for their buck.
Apr. 21, 2014, 9:27 AM
- The WSJ reports mobile payments upstart Square, reported two months ago to have indefinitely postponed its IPO, has "discussed a possible sale to several deeper-pocketed rivals."
- The paper adds Google (GOOG) discussed buying Square this year, though it's not clear if talks are continuing. Apple and PayPal are said to have held informal talks that never progressed.
- Re/code and The Information previously reported Google has shown interest in Square, which processed over $20B worth of transactions last year (largely through its mobile card readers and related apps) and could provide Google with valuable data on offline purchase activity and ad effectiveness (previous). Google's own mobile/offline payments efforts haven't lived up to expectations.
- The WSJ's sources state Square had 2013 revenue of $550M, but only with a gross margin of 21% (down from 2012's 27%) after backing out processor payments and other fees. That led net loss to total ~$100M.
- Square has been hatching plans to up-sell merchants on value-added software and services, but it remains very dependent on transactions for now. The company has been valued at $5B in private share sales, but public investors might now assign a lower valuation.
Apr. 14, 2014, 2:28 PM
- Titan Aerospace, once rumored to be in Facebook's crosshairs, has been acquired by Google (GOOG +0.8%).
- The Information previously reported of Google's interest in Titan. The Web giant plans to have Titan's drones (the Solara 50 and Solara 60) complement Project Loon, which aims to provide 3G-or-faster Web access via hot-air balloons to areas lacking connectivity. Google might also have Titan support its Makani unit, which is working on airborne wind turbines.
- Facebook, for its part, is looking to connect offline regions with the help of its Connectivity Lab and recently-acquired U.K. drone startup Ascenta.
- Titan's 20-employee team will remain at its New Mexico HQ. In addition to providing voice/data services, Titan asserts its drones will be able to collect high-res imagery and sport atmospheric sensors (possibly of value for Google Maps). It expects individual drones to support up to 1Gbps of bandwidth.
- UAV maker AeroVironment (AVAV +0.7%) has turned positive on the news.
Alphabet, Inc. is a newly founded holding company for the Google group of businesses. Under the new operating structure, its main Google business will include search, ads, maps, apps, YouTube and Android and the related technical infrastructure (the 'Google business'). Businesses such as Calico,... More
Industry: Internet Information Providers
Country: United States
Other News & PR