Nine In 2010: Google's Bump Buy Continues Feverish Acquisition Pace
Google's Big Year
So far in 2010, Google is on an acquisition hot streak. This week’s purchase of Bump Technologies, maker of BumpTop, brings Google’s total number of pickups to nine (that have been made public, anyway). Google is looking to evolve beyond being just a search giant. Google is acquiring companies at such a rapid clip that it could soon rival Google’s tremendous 2007 buyouts, which totaled 16 public purchases before the year came to a close.
Here we look at Google’s acquisitions so far for 2010, a list that is sure to grow as the year progresses and Google puts more hands in even more technology cookie jars.
Google this week acquired Bump Technologies, maker of 3D desktop user interface BumpTop for Windows and Mac. BumpTop, which Google acquired for an undisclosed sum, offers multitouch technology, which Google could put to use in its Google Android smartphones and its rumored upcoming tablet offering. BumpTop uses what the company calls ’pile creation techniques’ for 3D multitouch desktops on Windows and Macs. The technology lets users scroll through and shuffle documents from the desktop, additions that could put Google in a stronger competitive position against the likes of the Apple iPhone and the Apple Tablet.
In late April, Google scooped up LabPixies. LabPixies was one of the first developers to create gadgets and applications for iGoogle. Google and LabPixies have worked closely for years, teaming up on OpenSocial-based gadgets and other projects.
Along with iGoogle, LabPixies also makes widgets and applications compatible with the Apple iPhone, Google Android, Orkut, MySpace, Hi5, Yahoo and Facebook.
Google’s acquisition of LabPixies will help Google expand its iGoogle offerings, and better tap into mobile platforms and social networks.
In February, Google revealed plans to acquire Aardvark, a social search offering that lets users have questions answered by experts in their online social networks. While Google didn’t disclose the terms, it is estimated that Google ponied up $50 million for Aardvark.
Aardvark works like this: Users sign up and create a list of contacts either manually or from their Facebook, Gmail and other contacts. That list is populated with users who already use Aardvark. From there, Aardvark uses contacts’ areas of interest and expertise based on provided information and preferences and users can send questions to Aardvark though the Web, e-mail, Twitter and IM to receive answers from those experts.
Also in February, Google acquired e-mail search application maker reMail. reMail makes an Apple iPhone application that can search Gmail and IMAP e-mail accounts. reMail’s founder and CEO, Gabor Cselle, is a former Google engineer.
Upon Google’s purchase of reMail, both Google and Cselle said the reMail application for the iPhone will be retired and Cselle would be named a Gmail product manager. The reMail acquisition appears to have been more of a talent search than a technology buy for Google.
Looking to bulk up its live video streaming capabilities, which Google already has in spades with its roster of YouTube offerings, the search giant scooped up Episodic in early April.
The acquisition of Episodic by Google gives Google a video hosting and publishing platform that lets users manage video content, publish live streams and on-demand packages, regulate advertising and use analytics to determine viewer experience, all capabilities that Google could add to YouTube to expand its video services footprint.
Episodic users can also charge viewers and advertisers to watch or appear during content, and the service is available for mobile video as well, giving Google more ways to monetize video.
Google immersed itself more into the world of online photography in March with the acquisition of Picnik, a Web-based photo editing offering that can integrate with other online photography tools, including Google’s Picasa offering.
Picnik’s Web site delivers photo editing capabilities within a Web browser for various image formats and is compatible with Windows, Linux and Mac operating systems. Picnik also lets users pull photos from Picasa, Flickr, Facebook, Photobucket and other sites for editing.
As Google continues to tackle cloud computing and deepening its competition with Microsoft, it put up a reported $25 million to in early March to acquire DocVerse. DocVerse makes a plug-in that enables Web-based collaboration within Microsoft Office desktop applications.
The addition of DocVerse gives Google’s cloud-based Google Docs offerings more leverage against Microsoft and Office as the two duke it out in the online document management ring.
Dubbed a ’mysterious startup,’ Agnilux found a home with Google in April. What makes Agnilux mysterious is that it was founded by former Apple employees and no one really knows what it does or makes.
Agnilux is said to have chip expertise, stemming from its roster of former P.A. Semi employees, who left after Apple acquired the chip design firm two years ago. Other Agnilux employees are said to have come from the likes of tech giants Cisco Systems and TiVo.
The Apple inside expertise brought on with the Agnilux buy could give Google the ability to better compete with the Apple iPhone and other mobile technologies.
Also in April, Google scored visual mobile search company Plink. Plink developed a Google Android application dubbed PlinkArt that lets users photograph and upload a snapshot of a painting or other work of art that Plink identifies. Similar to what Shazam does for music, Plink does for art. From there, details of the artist and the work are provided and can be shared via a smartphone.
Google’s purchase of Plink can give the search giant more visual search and identification technology to be added to its mobile offerings, yet again a move to compete more heartily with the Apple iPhone and Google’s other smartphone and mobile application rivals.