Predicting what Google may do in 2008 is about as accurate as predicting the future using a Magic 8 ball; you can make educated guesses but it’s nothing more than that. There are two certainties however; Google will acquire many companies and they will also launch a range of new products and upgrades to existing products. Here’s a few companies that Google may look at in 2008.
The idea of a merged Google + Amazon into a new company Googlezon is an old idea. However Amazon keeps moving into spaces that Google would naturally be a candidate to be in.
Last week Amazon added SimpleDB to its suite of cloud-based IT infrastructure, which also includes storage (S3) and computation (EC2). They are appealing products, and S3 in particular has built a strong client base that as changed the dynamics of online storage. This is a space that Google would logically want to be in. Google is already offering paid online corporate service through Google Apps and they have the infrastructure to offer similar services to Amazon.
Of course the ecommerce side of Amazon is the cream on top. Google has been desperately trying to break into ecommerce with Google Checkout. Google recommending Amazon products via search would be a huge winner.
Amazon’s $37 billion market cap puts it out of range for a Google cash acquisition, although a combination cash/ script offer is not beyond the realms of possibility. Google needs new revenue streams to keep up their continuing high growth rates in 2008, enterprise level hosting and service provision would seem a no brainer for Google, presuming they can get the tech/ implementation right.
SixApart has undergone a major refocus this year into what is now primarily a enterprise provider of blogging tools. The mostly free LiveJournal, a competitor to Blogger has been sold, and Movable Type has been open sourced, in part taking away the baggage of running (what was previously) a mostly free to use blogging platform. TypePad offers a serious blogging platform that companies are willing to pay for, something Google doesn’t currently have. Given Google’s push into paid enterprise platform provision TypePad would slot in nicely as an additional feature offered by Google. The stray in the SixApart package is Vox; it doesn’t seem like a natural fit for Google but it can easily be offloaded. A service such as TypeKey would fit nicely into Google’s Profile/ one login everywhere push.
Rating: possible buy
The alternative is Automattic, however WordPress.com competes primarily with Blogger, Akismet could be easily emulated and there’s not a lot of enterprise focused product on offer. There’s every chance that buyers will be circling SixApart in 2008, particularly as the original investors start looking for a buyout as the company hits 4+ years since its initial funding. Google seems like a natural fit, and they would easily be able to afford the maybe mid $xxx million figure.
The white label social network provider Ning is leading in its space, and of all the companies in this post, Ning is the most perfect fit for Google. As we saw with the announcement of Google Knol, Google is all about facilitating the creative desires of users, as does Ning. Google already offers its own free web hosting with Pages and blogs with Blogger, social networking sites fills the list out nicely. Ning would also mean that Google wouldn’t acquire a company that seriously competes with most of its partners in Open Social; instead of being a major social network owner, Google would simply become the biggest provider of social networks.
Someone will buy Ning in 2008, Google would be the perfect buyer.
Google faces another battle this year with rights holders over news, a battle they could in part lose. Even now media outlets worldwide are trying to find ways of blocking Google from indexing their content. Reuters is one of the worlds top two providers of syndicated news and is profitable. Google wants what Reuters has.
Rating: very long shot buy
AP is owned by the newspapers and will never sell, Reuters is listed making it a possible acquisition target. Google is moving away from simply being the company that indexes the world to being the company that also offers content to the world as well. A Google controlled Reuters would radically change the face of news gathering world wide. Not only would Google have first rights to most of the news worldwide, it could also leverage that control in forming partnerships with media outlets, partnerships that challenge AP and the established order. The possibilities for Google would be great: discounted Reuters news in return for running Google ads or for being indexed by Google, Google offering to host news sites at no cost as part of a content deal, allowing Google to know who was reading what and when. Reuters video and similar visual products would feed into YouTube and Google images. Very much a long shot but an appealing one. Maybe a small stake might be more likely for Google? Either way, Google wants news content from somewhere and I’d bet they’d be willing to pay for it if the deal was right.
If you have any acquisition targets for Google you’d like to share, leave a comment.