Undoubtedly, one of the reasons Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) decided to go public was to secure a currency (both cash from the IPO and shares to exchange) that could be used to fund strategic acquisitions in order to continue to grow and maintain a leadership position within the Internet services marketplace. The company has taken advantage of that financial flexibility time and time again, as seen with YouTube, the pending deal with DoubleClick, and a smaller deal announced Friday, the acquisition of FeedBurner.
You always hear about how hard integrating acquisitions can be, from corporate cultures to product lines, but rarely do you get to experience that integration firsthand. This FeedBurner deal is interesting to me on several fronts. Sure, I am a shareholder so I want the deal to make sense, both strategically and monetarily, but more so this combination is important to me because I am a FeedBurner customer and thoroughly enjoy the company's suite of services. FeedBurner manages my blog's RSS feed and email alert subscriptions from top to bottom.
Accordingly, I am very curious to see how exactly Google integrates FeedBurner into their operation. Will FeedBurner be able to remain autonomous enough that they can continue to innovate in a way that pleases users? Will Google's resources enhance the FeedBurner product offering without replacing it? I am hopeful that this deal was not done simply to secure a user base and migrate them to Google's products.
Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) has been doing that very thing in recent years, essentially buying up competitors, starving innovation at those companies, and moving users to Oracle products. I can't speak for them, but I doubt customers were all too pleased. One of the reasons I enjoy FeedBurner is because they aren't Google. They are very focused on a single area (distributing online content off-site) and they do it very well.
As both a shareholder and a user of services from both Google and Feedburner, I can say they would be well served to collaborate with the FeedBurner team and innovate alongside them. At the same time they should keep the FeedBurner heart pumping. That little company is alive and well, and users deserve to see that continue.
Full Disclosure: Author is long shares of Google at the time of writing.