Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Google's M&A Chief Says Deal Focus Has Changed

Posted by Tom Foremski - February 16, 2012

Google made 79 acquisitions last year, mostly small companies and mostly for their engineering talent. The largest acquisition was Motorola Mobility, a $12.5 billion deal.

This year, the search giant expects to focus on smaller numbers of deals in strategic areas such as mobile and video, said David Lawee, VP of Corporate Development.

In an interview with Richard Waters, West Coast Managing Editor for the Financial Times, Mr Lawee said there was no interest in acquisitions in social networking sectors, and that Google+ was on "a pretty good trajectory."

Google has about $40 billion in cash and many other tech companies have large hoards of cash too, which could inflate the valuation of strategic acquisitions.

"It's not clear what's overvalued and what isn't," Mr Lawee said. He added that the prices of deals needed to be weighed against the new scale of the new markets Google was creating. "We believe we have a huge opportunity before us."

Google changes focus on dealmaking -

The interview revealed an interesting management change at Google, under its new CEO, Larry Page. In an effort to rekindle the company's entrepreneurial, startup spirit, meetings between senior executives are scheduled for evening hours, between 6 pm and 11pm.

Foremski's Take: Google is making a big push this year around IPTV, the use of the Internet to deliver TV shows and other programming via it's YouTube site. It is making big deals with media companies to license content in a bid to draw larger audiences.

Google is hoping to disrupt the TV advertising market but it will need help and it will need strategic acquisitions, in areas such as ad networks and digital marketing.

While some Google observers have speculated that it should buy media companies, it is unlikely and inadvisable. Google is a technology-enabled media company and it understands how to scale technologies -- not how to create content.

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