Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Google Has Taken a Break From Buyouts So Far This Year

Google’s appetite for acquisitions seems to have dulled in recent months. After buying a record 79 companies in 2011, Google hasn’t made a single purchase yet in 2012.

In fact, its last acquisition was the restaurant-recommendation app maker Clever Sense, which was announced Dec. 13. A Google spokeswoman confirmed the company hasn’t bought anything since then.

Sources at Google said the main reason for the dearth of deals is CEO Larry Page’s focus on streamlining his company around key products. Plus, there’s “seasonality” around the turn of the year (but c’mon, it’s March; that would be an incredibly generous winter holiday break!).

Sources also maintained that new acquisitions are in the pipeline, and should be announced in the coming weeks.

Page reorganized Google last year around seven areas, like Android, Google+ and YouTube. New acquisitions are supposed to fit into that larger structure, sources said. So, in addition to having a dedicated sponsor within the company, each deal also has to be advocated for by the head of one of the product divisions.

That’s a change from the Eric Schmidt era (though perhaps a deferred change, given Page took over in April 2011). In recent years, Schmidt seemed to make continual pronouncements that Google was stepping up the pace of its acquisitions.

Another cause for the slowed pace of acquisitions could be a string of departures from Google’s corporate development team, which has been led by David Lawee since 2008.

Last year, Groupon hired Jason Harinstein, Facebook lured Amin Zoufonoun, and Neeraj Arora went to mobile messaging start-up WhatsApp.

There’s also the distraction of Google’s massive $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola, which hasn’t officially closed yet, but presumably will soon.

It’s not like there’s an industry-wide acquisition dry spell. In recent months, newer buyers like Groupon and LinkedIn have been particularly active on the talent acquisition front. Facebook even acquired a company on the same day it submitted papers to go public, and disclosed that fact (but not the name of the company) in its S-1 filing.

(Image courtesy of BustedTees)

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