Boutiques.com: A Very Different Shopping Site For Women, From Google

Earlier this week Google launched offline product inventory for Google Shopping/Product Search. And this morning the company is going live with the decidedly un-Googly Boutiques.com. On the surface Boutiques may resemble other "social shopping" sites such as Polyvore or Stylehive, among others. But the underlying technology, I'm told, is much more sophisticated than comparable female-centric shopping sites. (There's also an iPad app.) Boutiques is a highly visual, social and personalized shopping destination built on sophisticated machine learning and visual recognition technology. M [...]


Is Google Baraza A Test Drive For A New Google Q&A Product?

Google Blogoscoped pointed our attention to Google's Baraza, a Yahoo-Answers-like Q&A site for Africa. The expressed rationale behind Baraza is that it will help generate "local content" across the continent. There's a relatively elaborate point system (a "currency") used to pay for answers and as a reward for participation otherwise. Because it's globally available in English we're likely to see broad participation from outside of Africa in Baraza. The more interesting question in my mind is whether this will become a model for a larger Q&A effort at Google. The company cour [...]


OTA Coalition Forms, Calls Google+ITA Deal A Threat To Consumers And Competition

Last week, it was announced that FairSearch.org was formed by a group of travel and technology businesses, including  Expedia Inc. ( Expedia.com, Hotwire , TripAdvisor),  Farelogix,  KAYAK.com and  SideStep; and Sabre Holdings, owners of Travelocity to lobby against Google's acquisition of ITA software (for $700 million) which provides data to a number of top travel websites, including Bing Travel (Farecast). Speculation worried the travel industry for months leading up to the formal announcement on July 1, 2010, and ever since then, Google's Acquisition of ITA has been highly scrutini [...]


Report: Google Buying Social Calendar, Acquisition Count Dwarfs Rivals

It's being reported this morning that Google is buying a "social calendar" for mobile devices called Plannr (we're back to the heady vowel-free days). There have been a number of largely unsuccessful efforts to create group or social calendars in the past and there are several existing competitors in the segment, most notably Plancast. The app itself is largely unremarkable and the acquisition may be about buying the small team (of two) behind Plannr. One can imagine a mobile-social event planning or calendaring tool being one of the many nodes of Google's evolving and emerging social strat [...]


Google Doubles Pace Of Acquisitions In 2010

Google Steps Up Acquisitions as Some Internal Projects Falter from Bloomberg reports Google has doubled their anticipated acquisition levels in 2010 and plans on keeping that pace going. In early January 2009 Google halted acquisitions, but in September 2009 said they would begin shopping for businesses to acquire again. Google's CEO Eric Schmidt said he has doubled that pace because "the opportunities are there." Schmidt added, "We can afford it. We’re in a mode of investment for the long term." Just this year, Google has acquired 17 companies including Aardvark, reMail, Picnik, D [...]


Google Buys Metaweb To Bolster Answers, Google Squared & Rich Snippets

Google announced they have acquired Metaweb. Metaweb is a search company that figures out entities and not just words. I have a video from the company explaining exactly what that means. In short, Google seems to want to explore and leverage Metaweb's technology to bolster their rich snippet initiative and Google Squared project. As you now know, Google Squared powers Google's quick answers. Google said this acquisition will help them "improve search and make the web richer and more meaningful for everyone." Here is how Google explains future improvements due to Metaweb: Type [bar [...]


Google Takes On Travel Sites, Courts Regulatory Action With ITA Acquisition

Google has signed an agreement to acquire travel reservations software company ITA. The purchase price is reportedly about $700 million. We speculated about this and the likely travel industry and potential regulatory fallout earlier this week. Google put up a site to explain and promote the deal. Indeed, Google knows it's girding for a fight and is about to do a conference call with CEO Eric Schmidt, ITA's CEO and Marissa Mayer. In addition Google PR just issued the following statement: I wanted to let you know that Google has just announced that we have signed an agreement to acquire I [...]


Google In Discussions To Buy Travel Software Company, Will FTC Ground It?

Most people have never heard of ITA. However it's the dominant company that provides reservations (inventory management) software and performs other functions for the travel industry. The company's client list includes major airlines such as American and Continental as well as popular travel sites such as Kayak and Orbitz. ITA is foundational infrastructure for many of these firms. The revelation that Google has been in discussions to buy ITA is reportedly unnerving to many of those companies that use its software. According to Reuters: The concerns are so real that Kayak offered to buy I [...]


Report: Google Buys Invite Media, Optimization And Media Buying Platform For Ad Exchanges

Adding to its display media assets, Google has reportedly acquired Invite Media for an undisclosed sum. The purchase price estimate is $70 million. Invite Media's platform "Bid Manager" enables agencies and media buyers to buy across ad exchanges more efficiently. First there were ad networks, then ad exchanges to make buying across networks more efficient. And now there are so-called "demand side platforms" such as Invite that help marketers and agencies buy across exchanges to target and consolidate audiences. According to AllThingD's report, Invite will operate at "arms length" from [...]


FTC Decides Not To Block Google-AdMob Acquisition

The champagne is flowing in Mountain View; the FTC has declined to sue to block Google's $750 million acquisition of mobile ad network AdMob. It appears that the public-facing rationale for the decision is the entry of Apple into the mobile ad market. The FTC put out the following statement: In a statement issued today, the Commission said that although the combination of the two leading mobile advertising networks raised serious antitrust issues, the agency’s concerns ultimately were overshadowed by recent developments in the market, most notably a move by Apple Computer Inc. – th [...]


Google Ready To Rumble If FTC Sues Over AdMob

In November, 2008 the US Department of Justice was prepared to sue Google and call the company a "monopoly"  in an effort to stop the proposed search-ads deal with Yahoo. At the time Google wanted to avoid the "m-word" and didn't quite have the stomach for a public legal battle with the DOJ. Here's what General Counsel David Drummond said at the time: However, after four months of review, including discussions of various possible changes to the agreement, it's clear that government regulators and some advertisers continue to have concerns about the agreement. Pressing ahead risked not on [...]


Google Buying The “VoIP Infrastructure” Out From Under Competitors

Google rarely does anything with a single objective in mind. There are almost always multiple goals or possibilities involved in most of its strategic moves and acquisitions. Such is also the case with its $68 million effort to acquire Global IP Solutions (GIPS). The company, headquartered in San Francisco but publicly traded in Norway, "provides best-in-class voice and video processing in IP communications." As several others have already remarked, GIPS has a customer list that includes "Nortel, Oracle, Samsung, WebEx, Yahoo. AOL and other key players in the VoIP market." Some of the Vo [...]


Google Buys 3-D UI Maker BumpTop

Google has bought BumpTop, a company that makes 3-D desktop UIs for the PC (Windows and Mac). The purchase amount was not disclosed of course, although the company had only raised a small amount of investor cash, less than $2 million. So figure the acquisition was less than $20 million -- probably more like $10 to $15 million at most. On to the speculative "what will Google do with BumpTop" scenarios. All the posts feverishly written last night predominantly assume that BumpTop will be used to "sex up" (as the British would say) the Android UI. There's also discussion of how it might work o [...]


Google May Buy Travel Software Provider ITA: Report

Bloomberg News is reporting that Google is in discussions on what could be a $1 billion buyout of ITA Software, a company that provides reservation/information systems used by many well-known travel industry companies. Bloomberg cites "three people familiar with the matter" in its article, two of whom speculate that ITA could want up to $1 billion in a sale to Google. The sources also say that "the negotiations may not lead to a transaction." Ironically, ITA provides software that's used by Bing, presumably for its popular Bing Travel search tools. In a recent news release, ITA says its [...]


Plink: Google Buys Another Mobile Startup

No FTC review here: Google has acquired Plink a UK-based startup that offers specialized visual search (or augmented reality [sort of]) for art. You take a picture of an artwork or object d'art and information appears about the artist and/or the piece. As the site makes clear, PlinkArt was simply the first in an intended build-out of visual search apps. Google has bought the company, probably for the team, to help develop Google Goggles, a promising but flawed platform/app that works only part of the time now. This acquisition and related engineering talent will no doubt improve Goggles con [...]


FTC Moving Closer To Challenging Google-AdMob Deal: Report

There are more signs that federal regulators may be ready to challenge Google's purchase of AdMob, the mobile advertising company it bought for $750 million in November. The Wall Street Journal reports today that the groundwork is in place for a formal government challenge: The FTC has assembled an internal litigation team to prepare for a possible effort to block the deal, according to people familiar with the matter. It also has sent letters to several of AdMob's competitors asking them to testify in sworn statements about the potential impact of the acquisition, according to several [...]


Aardvark Acquired By Google

TechCrunch reports Google has acquired Aardvark, a help engine, for $50 million. Aardvark allows you to ask questions, which then pushed the question out to a network of people who may be able to answer them. The answers are then sent back to you via instant message, email or even Twitter. Aardvark was created by former Googlers and hasn't taken on the traction that I expected early on. Google has not yet confirmed the acquisition. Postscript: Google sent me a statement confirming the acquisition. They said: We have signed a definitive agreement to acquire Aardvark, but we don't [...]


Google Plans To Buy Its Way Into Real Estate

Google is making its intentions in the real estate vertical more clear. Speaking this week at Inman Real Estate Connect, an industry conference, Google's Sam Sebastian reportedly said: "We're actively looking to acquire one to two small real estate companies a month." (Update: We now understand that the Realtor.org blog post linked above may have misquoted Google's Sam Sebastian. Via this tweet, this attendee blog post, and a comment below, it appears Sebastian may have been referring to acquisitions in general, not specific real estate acquisitions. We'll contact Google for clarification.) [...]


With Mobile Ad Networks Being Snapped Up By Google And Apple Will Yahoo Or Microsoft Be The Next To Buy?

In November, Google surprised many when it announced that it was buying mobile ad network AdMob for a massive $750 million in stock, bringing mobile advertising suddenly into the consciousness of people who'd simply not paid attention before: "Hey, maybe this thing IS for real." Now Apple is reportedly buying another tier one mobile ad network, Quattro Wireless, for $275 million. That immediately raises the question: What will Yahoo and Microsoft Do? Yahoo already is a top mobile ad network and so is Microsoft -- in both traffic and estimated revenues. Both rank in the top five in terms [...]


Google Buys Teracent, Machine Learning Display Ad Technology

Google announced they have purchased Teracent, a company that uses machine learning to show the different display ad creatives based on dozens of factors. Google bought them to improve and better automate the display ad side of their ad serving technology. Google said: We think that this technology has great potential to improve display advertising on the web. That's why we're pleased to announce today that we've entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Teracent. The transaction, which is subject to various closing conditions, is expected to close this quarter. This can be used to [...]


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