Google's $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility is far and away Google's biggest-ever purchase -- in fact, it's greater than Google's next 10 biggest acquisitions combined and only its third above a billion dollars.
Google's traditional acquisition strategy identifies small groups of talented people, such as the creators of Android, who can grow into much more with the resources of Google behind them. But on occasion Google breaks the billion-dollar barrier to snap up companies that were already successful, and has made numerous acquisitions in the range of $100 million to $750 million. Google expects the Motorola purchase to complete by the end of this year or early in 2012. Let's take a look at the top 10 Google acquisitions by value announced prior to the Motorola Mobility buy.
$3.1 billion for DoubleClick, closed March 2008
As if Google needed more help in online advertising, the DoubleClick buy helped Google serve display ads to users of its search engine and various other services. The DoubleClick purchase was almost topped by Google last year when it unsuccessfully tried to buy Groupon for $6 billion.
$1.65 billion for YouTube, closed November 2006
Google launched its own video search engine in 2005 and supercharged its video strategy with the acquisition of YouTube the next year. Under Google's leadership, YouTube has remained a technology and even cultural giant. Without YouTube, we would never have experienced the greatest musical video of all time, Rebecca Black's "Friday."
$750 million for AdMob, closed May 2010
Advertising is where Google makes nearly all of its money, and Internet-based ads are becoming an increasingly big business on mobile devices. So the acquisition of mobile advertising firm AdMob made perfect sense for the Googlers, and was a lot less expensive than Google's pending buy of Motorola Mobility, another purchase aimed at expanding Google's mobile ambitions.
$700 million for ITA Software, closed April 2011
Google's acquisition of this travel software maker caught the attention of antitrust regulators, but Google closed the deal on April 12 of this year. "We're confident that by combining ITA's expertise with Google's technology we'll be able to develop exciting new flight search tools for all our users," Google said.
$625 million for Postini, closed September 2007
Google's enterprise ambitions -- challenging Microsoft Exchange and Office with Gmail and Google Docs -- requires rock-solid security to appease enterprise IT executives wary about cloud computing. The purchase of email security and archiving service Postini, now integrated into Google Apps, doesn't answer every Google-related security question, but it certainly helps.
$400 million for AdMeld, announced June 2011
No surprise, it's another online ad-related acquisition, but this one is still pending a review by the Department of Justice. Google said a few weeks ago that the DOJ has asked for more information, but Google contends that the display advertising business remains so competitive that the AdMeld purchase should not be blocked on antitrust grounds.
$228 million for Slide, closed August 2010
A maker of social applications for Facebook and other social networks, the purchase of Slide for a reported $228 million was designed to help Google build new social experiences into its own services such as Gmail, Docs, Blogger, Picasa and YouTube.
$124.6 million for On2 Technologies, closed February 2010
This purchase helped Google launch a new format for HTML5 video called WebM, which competes against the Microsoft-backed H.264 codec. Although less widely used than H.264, Google claims WebM is a better option because it would be a more open standard.
$102 million for dMarc Broadcasting, closed Q1 2006
Google purchased dMarc, which connected advertisers to radio stations with an automated ad platform, so it could integrate the technology into its own AdWords program. "Google is committed to exploring new ways to extend targeted, measurable advertising to other forms of media," Google said at the time.
$102 million for Applied Semantics, closed in April 2003
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