Google is known around the globe for having changed the way we use technology. Starting out simply by improving the way we search for things, Google has very quickly dominated many fields within the technology sector. With dozens upon dozens of company acquisitions, Google has found technological innovation and rebranded or improved upon it for the use of everyone. Most Google products are free to use and that’s how the company built such a massive base of users so quickly.
Today, Google has reorganized itself and established a parent corporation called Alphabet, to better organize its many business interests. Thanks to Google, the world not only searches for information better, but we have better maps that integrate with navigation systems. Google has made communication even faster with its fusion of email, file storage, file sharing, document creation, photo editing and even watching video of any thought or event a person may want to share with the world. All of this is free of charge to anyone that wants to participate.
But with every massive corporation that buys smaller companies, there is risk and reward. This list will identify the best buys Google ever made and explain why it has been so wonderful. It will also list some of the biggest duds in the pack. It will shock you to learn of some Google initiatives that were tried and miserably failed. I guess that’s part of the cost of doing business.
14. Best – Nest
Nest is a revolution in home temperature management. It is a smart device that can be controlled from a smartphone remotely and is designed to change heating and cooling of the home throughout the day to save money on energy consumption. Already very popular, Google acquired Nest for over $3 billion in 2014. This seems like a beautiful partnership that fits well within the spectrum of Google’s philosophies. Nest thermostats are not only cost effective, but they are environmentally friendly as well.
Nest will operate under Alphabet, the parent company for all things Google. They already have begun working on home security technology as well as integration into other generally automated systems. Now to see how Google will expand the reach of this remarkable technology and use it to make all our lives better.
13. Best – Zagat
Zagat is best known as the restaurant review guide that has long dominated its particular space. In 2011, Google purchased Zagat for just over $150 million with the goal of integrating its restaurant reviews with Google Maps and other services. While Google clashed a bit with the old guard of Zagat, the rough spots were worked out and Zagat became a restaurant review staple on the Google platform.
All indications from Google are that the printed Zagat guide is probably a thing of the past, since Google prides itself on being as paperless as possible. But the new Zagat app is certainly the next exciting evolution. After Google acquired Zagat, they put out a Zagat app that seemed more interested in showing stories and articles than helping people find a good restaurant. But recently, Google looked at the app again and made it something that is very much like it always was… a way to find a good restaurant! Bravo Google… you took an almost dud and made it a winner!
12. Best – Android
At a measly $50 million, Google got themselves into an amazing space and has been able to masterfully infuse itself into the mobile device market. Android as an operating system works seamlessly with other Google products and acts as a portal to so many other revenue producing areas of the company. In 2005, Google was on the forefront of what would become a smart device boom with this purchase.
Today, Android and Apple each have the lion’s portion of market share in the smart device arena. This launched multiple opportunities and additional markets for Google at a pivotal moment in technology history. Well done Google for being forward thinking and an innovative leader!
11. Best – Double Click
With the world of online advertising exploding, it makes sense that Google would want or even need to have a dominant position in that market. Enter Google’s purchase of the company Double Click in 2007. For the low price of just $3.1 billion, Google instantly set themselves at the head of the table for online advertising. They got their proprietary software and all the relationships that Double Click established to that point.
Google knew that there were about to be a lot more devices surfing the web and the growth of the internet was far from over. More eyes on the web in more places means more potential for creative advertising. Two very enthusiastic thumbs-up to Google for putting this one together and wisely investing a little over $3 billion, which in the long run seems to be a great bargain!
10. Best – Waze
In 2013, Google decided they needed their GPS users to be able to interact more with the system. In a culture that valued collaboration and user communication, the $933 million needed to accomplish this through the purchase of Waze seemed like chump change. Waze had developed a wonderful way to allow GPS users to provide road updates. Google quickly snatched this up and put it to good use within its own navigation system.
Now, it is easier than ever to find out if there is road work happening, or if a road is closed. With suggestions of alternate routes to save time due to road work or construction, traveling has never been easier thanks to Google. Thanks to Waze, Google is still on top of the world in maps and navigation.
9. Best – SkyBox Imaging
People don’t always think about how Google gets the sharp, detailed photographs as part of its map system. Google has wanted not only to dominate maps and navigation, but provide the absolute best product without question. In 2014, Google acquired for a measly $500 million the company SkyBox Imaging. With this acquisition, they obtained some amazing technology through satellites and could as a result provide more updated and higher quality images.
With the integration of this technology into the maps service, Google has continued to be one step ahead of their competition. They rebranded SkyBox into a new company named Terra Bella and have launched multiple satellites with plans to make even more innovations in the area of using images for the purpose of data. When you mix Google’s forward thinking with innovative people that have an idea, it is amazing what is possible.
8. Best – YouTube
YouTube is a household name these days. It is responsible for the discovery of countless talented individuals including but not limited to pop sensation Justin Bieber! It is a way for people to share their thoughts and talents with the world in a very visual way. In 2006, Google realized that video sharing was the next big thing for the planet. Indeed, they were correct and for the price of just $1.65 billion, they got to once again make history.
As a method for sharing videos with the world and becoming a social network of people that want to see others and be seen, YouTube has become a necessary marketing tool for companies, a campaign tool for politicians and an educational tool for children in schools. The search engine built within the platform itself has become massive in its own right, coming in second only to the original Google search engine.
7. Worst – Frommer’s Travel
This is a strange case that it would seem could have easily been handled differently. In 2012, Google purchased the Frommer’s Travel brand for $22 million. This was a pretty small acquisition in terms of Google, but oddly enough just nine months after the fact, they sold the company back to Arthur Frommer. One thing was missing upon their return of the company and that was the social media followers. Google kept all the followers of the Frommer’s Travel social media accounts and just renamed the account.
Frommer’s took back the company with plans to begin publishing the popular travel books again, which was an aspect of the company that Google did not care to pursue. I suppose all’s well that ends well, but it just seems like a silly and expensive exercise for Google to go through just to get their hands on travel followers. One would think that they could have just bought the followers without the company.
6. Worst – Jaiku
Google purchased Jaiku in late 2007 with the intention of giving Twitter a run for its money. The platform was established in Finland and purchased for an undisclosed amount. Google hoped to turn a micro-blogging sensation into something marketable with their company and products and wanted very much to dominate this space. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to move fast enough and couldn’t catch the Twitter sensation.
Google cut its losses and eventually shut the whole operation down by the end of 2011. Undoubtedly, Google spent millions of dollars on this endeavor only to find that procrastination made it cost prohibitive. The lesson, my friends, is that if you’re going to try to compete in a thin niche market, you’d better be quick on the draw. Nice try Google, but Twitter kept the market share on this one.
5. Worst – Dodgeball
Purchased in 2005, Google bought Dodgeball hoping to make it another big social network. With the goal of allowing people to find things that interest them that are close to their location, it was a very cool idea, but a little early. The founders of Dodgeball went on to do bigger and better things when they saw that Google just wasn’t developing Dodgeball as quickly or with the same innovation they originally wanted.
By 2009, Google put the Dodgeball product to sleep permanently. They tried a few times to accomplish the same goal, but it just didn’t stick. Perhaps, as with Jaiku, it was a matter of procrastination, or maybe too many other pressing projects. Regardless of the why behind it, Dodgeball ended up being an epic fail in the history book of Google.
4. Worst – Motorola Mobility
Google spent over $12 billion purchasing Motorola Mobility, which included the handset and tablet division. It seemed like a great opportunity for Google to innovate with hardware and create some amazing devices. Unfortunately, innovation was in short supply and the products released were considered substandard devices. After a few years, Google decided to let Motorola go and sold it to Lenovo for less than $3 billion. Google did retain a large number of the patents in Motorola, so time will tell how that will pay off.
There really isn’t a clear reason why Google made this purchase in the first place, but it seemed that this was a failed endeavor from the start. If it was speculative on Google’s part, then it seems a very expensive wager. With far too much risk and not enough reward, the Motorola purchase was just a terrible idea all the way around.
3. Worst – Aardvark
Google paid $50 million for Aardvark, a question and answer service that had a significant following and a very cool concept. Aardvark allowed users to submit questions, while also giving the ability to answer questions as an expert on a particular topic or subject. It was a well designed idea and was quickly snatched up by Google. This was done at a time when Google was buying a lot of small start-up companies.
When Google trimmed some of the fat in terms of projects they had acquired, Aardvark was one of them. Some of the question and answer concepts from Aardvark were integrated into Google+, but by and large, the project wound up as a bust along with several others. It seems a shame that some cool ideas get caught-up in the housekeeping of major companies.
2. Worst – JotSpot
JotSpot was purchased by Google in October of 2006. The company was a web application platform that was rebranded by Google as Google Sites. This was offered as a free service to individuals that wanted to create their own wiki-type websites. The problem is that these were not overly popular and while free, the platform was quickly outpaced by other companies in the space. Over time, Google has taken the Google Sites concept through various upgrades and now it looks completely different.
Google Sites still doesn’t hold the prominence in the space that other companies do and it seems that Google is okay with this. When buying small companies like JotSpot, it seems that Google is just gobbling up all they can and sorting out what to do with them later. While Google’s appetite has always been larger than its stomach, this all-in mentality in innovation has paid Google well in many other ways.
1. Worst – dMarc Broadcasting
In 2006, Google purchased dMarc Broadcasting for the tidy sum of $102 million. dMarc Broadcasting was a radio advertising platform that Google felt could provide a springboard to its audio advertising goals. The $102 million gamble on this sector of the ad world could have made Google billions, but instead, it wound up bleeding money until it was cut loose in 2009.
Because the success of facilitating automated radio advertising depended upon working with existing radio stations, there was a great deal of hesitation on the part of the radio industry to latch-on to this bold new Google concept. Google and radio are like oil and water in many respects and Google just couldn’t escape their own stigma. What a shame that it took Google $102 million to figure out that they were a web based company.