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Google AdMob buyout latest in long line of acquisitions

Google's planned $750 million buyout of mobile advertising provider is Google's third publicly announced acquisition this year

By , Network World
November 09, 2009 03:29 PM ET

Network World -
In light of Google's announced plan this week to buy mobile advertising provider AdMob for $750 million, it seems like a good time to take a spin back through Google’s more notable buyouts over the years. Wikipedia lists more than 50 of them, and given Google’s sometimes mysterious ways, there are no doubt a few that didn’t make the public list.

Oh, and I’ll focus on the ones that really did happen. Not the rumors about Google buying out everyone from Twitter to Skype

The AdMob buyout is the third announced by Google this year (though speculation is swirling that Google has also acquired SIP VoIP provider Gizmo5). First was a $106 million purchase of video compression company On2, which could help Google more efficiently deliver video. That’s a big deal for Google, of course, given that it owns YouTube through a $1.6 billion buyout in 2006

On2 isn't the first company Google has bought in connection with YouTube either. For example, it snapped up a video editing technology company called Omnisio last year for an estimated $15 million. 

Slideshow: Hottest tech M&A deals of 2009 

The other deal Google made this year was for ReCAPTCHA, which brings Google some cool authentication technology that it can use to accelerate its massive effort to scan tens of millions of books and periodicals. I wrote about this project from CMU’s Luis von Ahn back in 2007 on Network World’s Alpha Doggs blog, regarding an effort to use the technology in a SETI@home-like distributed computing fashion to help digitize books.  (More here on volunteer distributed computing projects)

"So we'll be applying the technology within Google not only to increase fraud and spam protection for Google products but also to improve our books and newspaper scanning process," read a post in Google's official blog authored by Luis von Ahn, cofounder of reCAPTCHA, and Will Cathcart, a Google product manager.

Entering the wayback machine, Google’s first public buyout was announced in February of 2001, about three years after the company started. Target No. 1 was’s Usenet Discussion Service, including the domain names déjà.com and Now those domain names take you to Google Groups, where you can create and partake in online discussion groups.

Among the company’s more interesting deals, which have expanded the company far beyond search, include 2003’s buyout of Pyra Labs (Blogger’s creator) and 2004’s purchase of Keyhole, whose technology now powers Google Earth. In 2006, Google bought a company called Writely, a word processing software maker whose technology became the basis for Google Docs, which is now said to be used widely in 1 in 5 workplaces. Google says it bought Postini in 2007 to bolster security around offerings like Google Docs that it was looking to infiltrate businesses with.

While many of Google’s buyouts have been relatively small, it has hit $1 billion a few times, including for a chunk of AOL and for online advertising company DoubleClick ($3.1 billion).

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