Google Acquires SocialDeck, a Mobile Gaming Company

Google is out to set an acquisition record this month and wants to make use of every single day left in the month.

Google has just announced that it has acquired a mobile gaming startup SocialDeck. This acquisition looks like a part of a larger acquisition spree, which has just started. Clearly, Google is taking its Google Me very seriously and the  Slide and Jambool acquisitions are further proof of this.

The acquisition can serve two purposes. Firstly, it can be a breakthrough for Google’s mobile Android devices and secondly, it can be an excellent service for cross platform dominance.

The biggest advantage in using SocialDeck is that it has cross-platform mobile support and this can extend Google’s social expertise over various platforms. The particulars of the deal are not yet known.

Google is taking an unexplored path with this move and this feels so much like the old Google we knew of. Finally, Google is not imitating Bing but even more importantly, it is making a name for itself in a field where there are very few other players who can match its manpower and expertise. If done right, Google will inevitably succeed.

(Source)

Is Cisco Acquiring Skype?

A first look at  this post on Gigaom and I thought to myself, this cannot be possible. However, after seeing the name of the buyer, I had to change my mind. Skype was already (not) sold to eBay once and this time again, a new probable buyer is Cisco.

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Skype, as we all know is the undoubted and undefeated champion in VOIP technologies. Many companies like Rebtel have tried their hand at defeating Skype but have failed miserably. It is definitely a goose with golden eggs in the form of its strong IPO.

However, Cisco was not the only company looking to buy Skype. The acquisition is valued at $5 billion and Google has recently backed out from the list of prospective buyers because of antitrust concerns.

Cisco already deals in state of the art networking technologies. While many have speculated that it wants to enter the word of services with this acquisition, in my opinion, the hierarchical security measures used by Skype VOIP may be of special interest to it. After all, the last thing Cisco would want to do is compete directly with some of its big competitors.

The proceedings of the deal are being kept secret and the news might be a rumor as well. Nevertheless, i guess everyone likes to speculate a bit.

Google Acquires Slide, eyes the Social Gaming Market

Google has just acquired another social application company named Slide, in an effort to make Google services socially aware.

Google announced the acquisition in an official blog post published earlier today. It’s interesting to note that Google is slowly expanding the company’s reach on “Social gaming” and ways people make fun on the internet. Earlier this year, Google invested in another company called Zynga which will lay the foundation of Google Games, expected to launch at the end of 2010.

The official blog post says that Google is working on open and transparent ways to allow the users take advantage of the technology which in turn helps them stay connected with family members and friends. With Slide, Google expects to make it’s services more socially aware. Long story short, Google is preparing to take a share in the social gaming sector which is currently dominated by Facebook, thanks to all the interactive and funny games Facebook has.

Coming back to Slide, the company started as a simple photo sharing website back in 2004(read wikipedia refrence). Initially, the startup tried to engage the Myspace audience by letting the users insert slide shows into Myspace pages. Realizing the power and reach of Facebook, the company diversified and started focusing on Facebook apps – some of the very popular being Superpoke and FunSpace.

The company’s   founder Max Levchin along with his team of developers will be soon joining the Google camp to integrate Slide with other Google services. Please note that Max is also one of the co founders of Paypal.

Techcrunch reports that along with $182 million purchase price, Google has also agreed to pay an additional $46 million for employee retention bonuses.

Google acquires Instantiations: Google Web Toolkit keeps getting Better

Eric Clayberg, VP of Product Development at Instantiations wrote in an email today saying,

I have exciting news to share about important developments here at Instantiations… Instantiations’ award-winning Java and Ajax development tools and our incredible Eclipse team have been acquired by Google! We’re all very excited about taking our technology and team to the next level – and there is no bigger step up than Google!

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The same message has been put up on the  Instantiations homepage too and the people at Instantiations are quite excited about this. Instantiations is now a part of the Google Web Toolkit and Google is planning to use the GWT designer in Instantiations to its own advantage. Instantiations provides developers with a GUI interface for building applications using Google Web Toolkit. The seamless integration with Eclipse IDE simply makes things better.

However, Instantiations will still exist under the same brand name and will work on Smalltalk. The GWT part of the company will be forked off to Google. Instantiations holds many Smalltalk products like the Smalltalk IDE and VA Smalltalk under its banner.

With this acquisition, Google has acquired a powerful tool, a powerful team and has increased our expectations. Together, this team can make significant improvements and we hope to see of it soon enough.

(Source)

Disney Buys Social Gaming Startup Playdom For Over $700 Million

Playdom, is the fourth largest game developer on Facebook with 38 Million active users, but the social gaming startup is the largest one when it comes to MySpace. To  strengthen  its digital portfolio, Disney has bought Playdom for up to $763 Million, including $563 Million in up front payment and $200 million contingent on performance. Playdom CEO John Pleasants, who had joined the startup last year after leaving Electronic Arts, will still manage Playdom but as a Disney employee.

With less than $75 Million in total funding, this transaction  represents  a huge premium for Playdom’s investors and indicates how hot the social gaming market is. A few months, another social gaming startup Playfish was acquired by Electronic Arts for close to $375 million.  Disney will now use the platform to integrate its  proprietary  characters and stories into social games and leverage the interactive features to provide better opportunities for users to connect to the characters they have come to love. Using Playdom’s games, Disney would jump right into the Facebook and MySpace market for its well known characters and brands.

The transaction still has to pass through the anti-trust laws and is expected to close by the end of Disney’s current fiscal year.

Google Acquires Metaweb – Aims To Get Smarter At Answering Questions

Google Google has acquired Metaweb, a San Francisco based start-up, which has been working on building an open and shared database of the world’s knowledge. The Mountain View based search giant is hoping that access to MetaWeb’s technologies and metadata will allow it to gain a better understanding of the web.

Google is already quite good at throwing up pages relevant to the search query, but when it comes to directly answering questions, it still has a long way to go. Google is capable of answering straight forward queries like “India’s independence day”. However, for complicated queries like “actors over 40 who have won at least one oscar”, you will have to do all the legwork.

Semantic search is something all major search engines are currently working on. Wolfram Alpha is quite good at answering certain specific types of questions. DuckDuckGo also tries to tackle this issue by pooling in answers from various sources (including Wolfram Alpha). However, the biggest threat for Google is Facebook, simply because of the vast pool of user data that is available to the social networking behemoth.

Google Gets Into Travel and Air Tickets By Acquiring ITA

If you have traveled by an airline in the past, you might know how easy it is to find, book and compare air tickets online through sites like Expedia, Kayak, Trip Advisor and more. The air travel market is probably one of the most lucrative ones out there, and guess who is going to get a share in that pie now? Google.

Google Travel

Google just got into the travel industry by acquiring a Boston based company called ITA, which specializes in organizing airline data, flight times, availability and prices. With this acquisition Google might be looking to build a more robust and useful travel search engine where they could also possibly make more money through the medium.

The deal was signed for $700 million in cash subject to adjustments and is aimed at benefiting passengers, airlines and online travel agencies. Some of the facts of the acquisitions includes:

  • Google’s acquisition of ITA Software will create a new, easier way for users to find better flight information online, which should encourage more users to make their flight purchases online.
  • The acquisition will benefit passengers, airlines and online travel agencies by making it easier for users to comparison shop for flights and airfares and by driving more potential customers to airlines’ and online travel agencies’ websites. Google won’t be setting airfare prices and has no plans to sell airline tickets to consumers.
  • Because Google doesn’t currently compete against ITA Software, the deal will not change existing market shares. We are very excited about ITA Software’s QPX business, and we’re looking forward to working with current and future customers. Google will honor all existing agreements, and we’re also enthusiastic about adding new partners.

So do you think that Google will now move ahead and provide users with a better travel experience? Let your thoughts be known. More information on the acquisition can be found at the Official Google Blog.

Image Credit: sustainabletourismnetwork.co.za

Woot Acquired by Amazon

woot_logo Looks like Amazon has got its hands on another successful online retailer, this time it is Woot.com, the site which dishes out a single daily deal which offers steep discounts.

Here is what was announced through a recent blog post on the Woot Blog:

Holy crap! Woot has signed an agreement with Amazon – yes, the Amazon – to become an independent subsidiary of the ecommerce colossus. Woot HQ will remain in Carrollton, Texas, and will operate as autonomously as other Amazon companies like Zappos and Audible. More details forthcoming after we pick our eyeballs up off of the floor. Anybody see where Lefty rolled off to?

Matt Rutlegde the CEO of Woot has shared more details about this in detail through another blog post viewable here. Amazon had also earlier acquired Zappos. Financial details for the acquisition is not yet available, but it could be somewhere between $250-500 million according to the 2008 sales figures for Woot.

(Business Insider via Techmeme)

Automattic Acquires Plinky To Get Rid of Bloggers Block

Automattic the company which creates the popular blogging platform WordPress have acquired Plinky, a service which provides a prompt like a question or a challenge and asks users to type in an answer.

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Plinky has been integrated into WordPress.com and will allow users to post answers to the questions or challenges to their blog along with offering integration with other social networking services like and .

Blogger’s Block basically happens when someone gets stuck for ideas and cannot write for a small period of time. With the help of Plinky users can continue to answer small questions or challenges which in turn will help them recover from a Blogger’s Block. More information on the acquisition can be found here.

(Source)

Airtel Completes Zain Group Acquisition In Africa For $10.7 Billion

Bharti Airtel today dived into the global telecom market by completing the acquisition of Zain Group’s mobile operations in 15 countries across Africa for a total enterprise valuation of $10.7 billion.

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With this acquisition Airtel has become the first Indian telecom brand to have a global presence with a footprint of 1.8 billion people. It also became a major MNC with operations in 18 countries across Asia and Africa with a customer base of 180 million users.

With the acquisition of Zain Group, Airtel has:

  • Completed the largest ever cross- border deal in emerging markets.
  • Entered a league of five largest mobile operators in the world.
  • Became a leading Indian MNC with operations in 18 countries with a footprint covering 1.8 billion people
  • Reiterated commitment to Africa and promises affordable services, deeper coverage and superior brand experience.

Mr. Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman and Managing Director, Bharti said, We are delighted at the closure of this transformational deal for India and Bharti. We would like to express our deep gratitude and thank the governments of all the fifteen countries as well as the government of India for their overwhelming support to this landmark event. This will further strengthen the historic Indo-Africa economic & social ties and provide a big boost to South-South cooperation."

Mr. Asaad Al-Banwan, Chairman, Zain, said We wholeheartedly wish Bharti Airtel great success in continuing the development of telecommunications across the African continent, and we are confident that the people of Africa will welcome such a committed and reputable telecom powerhouse.

Airtel has no doubt been the biggest player in the Indian market, and with this acquisition they will also take over mobile service operations in 15 countries with a total customer base of over 42 million.

India is always seen as a emerging market for the telecom industry, however, with over 450 million telecom penetration, Africa also give Airtel a good chance to increase their user base.

For more information and details about the Airtel and Zain Group deal, visit this press release.