Google is on a buying spree again, and this time it is all about social sites. The Big “G” isn’t known for its successes in the social sphere, or even the e-mail replacement arena, but the company has to be up to something to be buying up all sorts of little social tool sites like it has been recently. Is Google “drafting” soldiers for an impending “war”?
Rumors have been flying around for some time now that Google is working on a new product named “Google Me”. What exactly will be entailed with this new product is not known at this time, but all of the indicators are that it is something to do with social networking. The evidence of what the company is investing in, and acquiring, certainly backs this up.
Beyond a $100 million dollar investment in social gaming powerhouse Zynga, last week the company purchased lesser known gaming company Slide. This also goes along with news that the company has struck deals with Playdom (recently purchased by Disney) and Electronic Art’s Playfish, but what those deals are for is unknown at this time, or where the company could be thinking of placing the games. Seems like a good fit for a social network to me.
Now comes the news that Google has acquired Jambool, a company with a payment product called Social Gold that allows developers to build in-app payments into products. According to the reports from TechCrunch, Google bought the company for $55 million, with $15 to $20 million more based on earnouts. Google already has a shopping cart system named Google Checkout, so why would they need a payment tool that is so specific? Especially one that the CEO of the company went on a rant about Facebook Credits a while back? Sounds like a company that would work well with the recently purchased Slide, to me.
Lets face it, Google knows if it is going to take on Facebook it has to be sooner rather than later. Yes, Google could build all of the things it needs to do so, but that would cost the company the one thing it doesn’t have oodles of, and that is time. Google has a war chest of billions of dollars, dropping tens of millions of dollars on completed products that are production ready makes far more sense than spending a year or two building their own.
To me, there is no question that Google Me is coming, it is only a question of when the announcement drops. (Facebook has reportedly gone into “LOCKDOWN” mode for 60 days to beef up some features in anticipation of it.) Right now, since we’re in Aug. already, I’m going to say first quarter 2011, but there is a distinct possibility it could be even sooner.
You may want to put on a flak jacket, because this fight isn’t going to be pretty.