08:21 AM

Google Must Change Acquisition Strategy As FTC Likely To Block Deals

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) appears to be stepping up its scrutiny of Google and anti-trust issues related to its business. Bloomberg reports that the FTC is asking for sworn statements from competitors and advertisers.

This action usually precedes the filing of a lawsuit seeking to block the $750 million AdMob purchase announced in November.

Agency officials typically collect declarations "when they think there is some significant chance" the agency will ask a court to block a merger, or seek to modify a deal, said Stephen Calkins, a former general counsel at the FTC who is now a professor of law at Wayne State University's law school in Detroit.

You can bet that Microsoft is happy to testify about this deal. Microsoft has a lot of experience with anti-trust and can craft its complaints in a language that FTC's lawyers can understand.

Scott Cleland, writing on The Precursor Blog, predicts that Google is likely to withdraw from the deal before the FTC files a complaint.

The last thing Google wants to do is have its own actions or recalcitrance be the catalyst for a much broader and more serious antitrust crackdown on Google's rapidly proliferating anti-competitive behavior.

For Google, it means it has to rethink not only its mobile ad strategy but also its acquisition strategy. It will be very difficult for Google to make large acquisitions in the future. But trying to grow its businesses organically, will reduce its ability move quickly, and dominate new markets. Which is precisely what the FTC means to do.

At some point, Google may decide to make a stand and challenge an anti-trust complaint. But it will have to choose its battleground carefully, because it will lay itself open to anti-trust lawsuits from other businesses, it will need solid footing.

Google's difficulties in making acquisitions bad news for the VC community. With very few IPOs around, acquisitions have become the main exit strategy for many venture-backed companies.

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Please see: Nine years later does Google still need 'adult supervision?' | Tom Foremski: IMHO | ZDNet.com