Tag Archive | Google

Google Spent $1.3B on Acquisitions So Far This Year, Mostly on Waze

In the first half of 2013, Google spent $1.31 billion on 16 acquisitions, it said in a financial filing today.

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Shutterstock/Fussypony

The largest of those was the mapping startup Waze, which cost $966 million. (We had previously reported that the deal was worth $1.1 billion, as it included an estimated $100 million in performance payouts to staff, which wouldn’t be included in this filing.)

Google explained a little of its math for the Waze deal today: $847 million in goodwill, plus $188 million in intangible assets, minus $69 million of net liabilities assumed.

Other disclosed acquisitions in the first half of this year included Makani Power and Wavii. But there were a lot more deals, too: 15 non-Waze acquisitions of companies and intangible assets cost Google $344 million.

Also in the quarter, Google sold a company of its own: Motorola Home. Arris paid $2.238 billion in cash, plus $150 million in closing adjustment and $175 million in stock, resulting in a net gain of $747 million that was included in second-quarter earnings.

And, lastly, Google cut a bunch of Motorola-related jobs through the Home sale as well as layoffs. In the second quarter, Motorola dropped to 4,599 employees from 15,152. Restructuring has brought cumulative charges of $839 million, Google said.

Google’s Answer to the Great Chromecast/Netflix Giveaway Mystery: There’s No Mystery — We Sold Out

sold out

Why did Google kill its Chromecast/Netflix promotion a day after it launched?

It didn’t, exactly. And neither did Netflix.

Here’s a new statement from Google on the end of the deal, which gave Chromecast buyers three months of free Netflix: “Due to overwhelming demand for Chromecast devices since launch, the 3-month Netflix promotion (which was available in limited quantities) is no longer available.”

And here’s a tiny bit of clarity about what that means, as far as I can tell after speaking to people at both companies: Google bought a fixed amount of Netflix subscriptions to bundle with its $35 Web TV gadget, and it sold out.

Feel free to wonder whether Google dramatically underestimated demand for Chromecast, or if it is very happy to have sold out in a day (right now, Gabe Rivera and his robots think this is the most compelling story in tech).

Also feel free to wonder whether the end of the promotion will do anything to dampen enthusiasm for the Chromecast.

My hunch: At an effective price of $11, it was basically free, and thus a very attractive impulse buy. And, at its list price of $35, it is still very, very cheap for a piece of consumer electronics. And it’s probably going to continue to sell well.

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock/Humannet)

Yet Another Way to Get a Super-Cheap Web TV Box

now tv

What’s that? You say you’re intrigued by the notion of a Web TV box, but $35 for a Google Chromecast is too rich for your blood?

Here you go – if you live in the U.K.: Satellite TV service BSkyB has rolled out a Web TV box for 9.99.

That works out to about $15, and what that gets you is essentially a rebranded Roku HD box – BSkyB invested in Roku last year, and once again this spring – tailored to support BSkyB’s Now TV streaming subscription service. That also means that the box won’t support BSkyB rivals Netflix and Amazon/Lovefilm.

You can see more specs and details here, but the big picture is that this shows yet another approach to distributing Web-to-TV hardware: Rather than have consumers buy the gadgets directly from the manufacturer, a programmer/distributor sells the box and subsidizes the cost.

Expect to see more of this in the future. For starters, note that Roku’s other investors include 21st Century Fox, Dish Network and Hearst, which owns both TV stations and stakes in TV networks including ESPN.

Meanwhile, Apple is in talks with Time Warner Cable about an Apple TV tie-up; for now, that deal doesn’t call for the cable operator to sell Apple’s boxes, but you could certainly imagine a pact where it does.

And remember that Amazon, which tried to buy Roku last year, has its own TV box in the works, which will be optimized for Amazon’s own video offerings.

Google Suggests Web-TV Thingies You Can Buy Instead of Google’s Sold-Out Chromecast

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Google has not only sold out of Netflix giveaways to bundle with its Chromecast device, but it doesn’t have any Chromecasts to sell right now, period. If you place an order on Google’s site, you’ll be told there is a two- to three-week wait before one will ship.

As a helpful AllThingsD reader points out, as of this morning, you could still buy a Chromecast from Best Buy’s website. That’s no longer the case, either.

But if you do end up looking for a Chromecast on BestBuy.com, you will find a list of other ways you can watch Web video on your TV.

The list is provided by Google, via its AdSense ad units, which means that, even if Google can’t sell you a gadget, it might still make money by getting you to click on a link.

The list will change over time, and will vary depending on your browsing history. Here’s one I just saw:

best buy chromecast adsense

If you’re in the market for a Chromecast, you might very well have heard of Roku, which offers gadgets that do similar things, but at a higher price point.

It’s interesting to note that Google’s auction/algorithm thinks you might also want to check out devices from Western Digital, which has had a hard time getting attention for its streaming boxes. It’s also interesting to see that Aereo, a subscription service that can’t show up on your TV without help from Apple TV, Roku (or, theoretically, Chromecast), is on the list, too.

Why Wall Street Should Care About Marketing Data

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Image copyright leungchopan

Today’s CMOs are making major investments to reach their target audiences across dozens of touchpoints – on their own websites, through search, display advertising and email, and increasingly on social channels and mobile devices.

The problem is, most of the technology platforms marketers are using to accomplish this don’t talk to each other.

What’s more, many of the groups within the organization running these programs are just as siloed. This means that the things marketers learn about customers in one channel often don’t translate into sound strategy decisions for other channels.

I’ll give you an example. Today, if someone clicks on a display ad, reaches a landing page and fills out a form, the CRM or marketing automation system can capture that lead and track that it came from display advertising. What marketers can’t yet do is take advantage of the information exchange in the opposite direction. What if they could use the rich information stored in the CRM system – such as how far along a prospect is in the sales pipeline – to make the display ad creative and messaging more relevant?

Marketing executives know they need to get their systems and people to talk to each other. In fact, a new study by Accenture Interactive, “Turbulence for the CMO,” reveals that 70 percent of top CMOs think they have five years to fundamentally overhaul their companies’ corporate marketing operating model to achieve competitive success. Big marketing technology companies know this too, and it is why companies like Salesforce, Oracle and Google are duking it out to own the customer data and CRM system. They want to be at the center of the value created by unlocking this marketing data and getting at an integrated view of a prospect or customer.

Think about how powerful it would be to serve up personalized Web content based on the ads someone has previously been exposed to, events they’ve attended, or when they’ve most recently engaged with a sales rep, or, to easily target email or display ads to just those people who engaged with a social campaign.

One company in particular has built a business around this very concept: Amazon. Amazon.com might very well be the most sophisticated marketer on the planet today, and if you spend a few minutes on their site looking at products, you’ll notice that the follow-up emails you get, the next experience you have on the site and even the display ads you see will all be synched to your product searches and prior browsing history – all to help you convert. Amazon is far ahead of the pack, with very few keeping pace today.

As companies get better at integrating their marketing systems to more fully understand the customer journey – from first exposure to the brand to the last program that drove the sale, and every touchpoint in between – every marketing dollar spent becomes extremely efficient.

And it’s a lot of dollars at stake. According to research by Outsell, B2B marketers alone will increase their advertising and marketing digital spend by almost 11 percent to $65.9B in 2013. Imagine the bottom-line impact when the performance of these investments improves by five percent or 10 percent – just by having the left hand talk to the right.

As companies use data to optimize their digital tactics – whether it’s through better targeting, reaching people where they are consuming media or tying together all the pieces of the marketing funnel – they’ll inevitably achieve a step-function in efficiency in terms of deploying marketing spend for impact. They can then cycle the additional revenue back into marketing, or R&D, or more salespeople.

And this is where Wall Street comes in. Wall Street should care about marketing data because companies that do the best job of tying together and leveraging marketing data will ultimately win and create outsized shareholder value.

So how can you tell if a company has a data-savvy CMO? Look for clear evidence of marketing integration.

It’s actually pretty amazing how many large companies have yet to integrate their marketing tactics. Investors should be looking to see, for example, if a company has a Super Bowl TV spot that they’re also using search ads and display ads to reinforce the Super Bowl message. The company should also be previewing the ad online to test customer response and drive viral awareness before the TV ad ever launches. Companies that only have a single spot and don’t back it up (and there are lots of them!) aren’t communicating effectively across the organization nor are they maximizing returns on invested capital. This is likely a good indicator that other programs are not well integrated either.

Another great way to test for marketing integration is simply the relevance of the ads you’re seeing. If they are relevant, and improving over time, the company is likely making the right investments in marketing technology to be ready for the next 10 years of growth. If you still get the same untargeted direct mail piece that you throw away every week, there’s cause to be concerned.

There are a lot of reasons to be bullish about the economy and the stock market over the next five to 10 years. Look no further than the innovation beginning to hit the CMO’s office to help decide if you agree, and if so, how to find leaders to invest in.

Russell Glass, CEO of Bizo, is a serial technology entrepreneur, having founded or held senior positions at four venture-backed technology companies. Prior to Bizo, Russ led the marketing and product management teams at ZoomInfo, a business information search engine, where he sharpened his B2B marketing skill set and developed his love for business data.

Yahoo Plans Splashy New San Francisco Digs (And Dreams of Neon Billboard’s Return)

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Justin Sullivan, Getty Images News

According to multiple sources close to the situation, Yahoo is close to signing a lease for a splashy new San Francisco outpost to keep up with the fast growth of other Web companies that have opened high-profile offices here.

Yahoo’s Mayer apparently is hoping for a big PR announcement of the space in San Francisco, much as she did with the recent news that the company was opening new digs in Times Square in Manhattan, in the former offices of the New York Times.

Mayer apparently likes old media locations. While the company has been looking at a number of locations in an increasingly tight office real estate market in San Francisco, it has zeroed in on a large amount of space in the famed San Francisco Chronicle building at 5th and Mission Streets.

That is now the location of Square, the high-profile online payments company which did a handsome redo of its office there. It is expected to vacate and move to an even swankier new space nearby by the end of September.

It’s not clear if Yahoo has actually signed the lease there or how many floors it will take, but sources said that the deal is in advanced stages.

Yahoo, whose main headquarters are in Sunnyvale, Calif., in the heart of Silicon Valley, already has a large location in San Francisco that houses several hundred sales, engineering and other employees over three floors.

But it is located in a nondescript office tower in the duller financial district of the city and not in the more hip environs south of Market Street, which has seen a major renaissance over the last two years due to the opening of numerous Internet companies.

That’s where companies like Twitter, Airbnb, Square and also many Sand Hill Road venture firms have built dramatic and highly designed offices. In addition, companies with existing big Silicon Valley campuses, such as Google, have also located fast-forward spaces in San Francisco.

In fact, the search giant is apparently now dramatically expanding its footprint at its SF HQ in Morgan Stanley’s Hills Plaza building, which is right at the foot of the Bay Bridge on the city’s waterfront.

As does Google, so copies Yahoo these days – from free food to trendy offices.

In fact, sources said Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer – who was a longtime Google exec – has been eager to up the company’s attractiveness to younger entrepreneurs, which includes providing appropriate urban digs within a stone’s throw of twee coffee roasters and ironic donut purveyors.

There are, obviously, no molasses, Guinness-soaked pear donuts easily found in Sunnyvale.

Yahoo has tried to create some hipster cred in the big city before. In 2006, it founded an incubator space in San Francisco called Brickhouse, to foster fast-forward ideas. But it ended up shuttering it two years later due to cost-cutting.

The same expense-chopping was to blame for the end of the iconic Yahoo billboard on the eastbound lane of the Bay Bridge – a retro motel-style one with many quirky mottos, including, “A Nice Place to Stay in the Internet” – that the company gave up in 2011 after a decade. It has since been rented by Clear Channel to the Gap’s Old Navy.

According to sources, Yahoo’s marketing head has told employees that the company has been trying hard to reclaim its past glory, in neon lights at least.

I emailed Yahoo for comment, but horses will fly – it could happen! – before I expect any kind of substantive response from PR at the company.

How to Remove Android Bloatware Without Rooting Your Phone

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It’s an all too frequent dilemma. You get one of the best high-end Android phones out there-maybe it’s a Galaxy S5, or maybe it’s an HTC One-and the hardware is impeccable. But the software experience is all mucked up from carrier add-ons and skinning. While you can root your phone to get the true stock Android phone experience you’d get from a Nexus device, you can actually get a similar stock experience without rooting. To remove apps, the easiest way is by downloading a few Google-made apps and making them your defaults. Google Calendar, Google Keyboard, and Google Hangouts are the calendar, typing, and chatting experiences you’d get on stock Android, and they’re available for download right from Google Play. Alternatively, you can download the APK for these and other stock KitKat features here.

Read the full story at Wired.

Google Now Can Remind You When It’s Time to Pay Your Bills

Google Now

As predicted back in March based on an APK teardown, Google Now has received bill reminder integration via your Gmail account. The level of detail for some billers seems fairly basic at the moment: Google Now identifies emails in your Gmail account as bills, and a card will show up with the name of the biller, the amount due, the due date, and an option to view the email the bill was sent with. The “Pay now” image we mocked up doesn’t look exactly like what our tipster sent, but that’s probably because this bill isn’t for a billing provider Google Now has achieved rich integration with. What you’re seeing is probably the most basic incarnation of the feature, whereas other billers may have or receive in the future more detailed information and options for action (such as paying your bill). We know that strings for things like minimum payments, previous balances, last month’s bill, and “see more bills” exist in the Now APK.

Read the full story at Android Police.

Google prepping devs for impending Ice Cream Sandwich update

With the Ice Cream Sandwich likely just weeks away, Google is getting Android developers ready for the impending update with some tips on how to optimize applications for phones and tablets alike for the next version of the mobile operating system.

Google introduced the Fragment API in Honeycomb and we’ve been expecting them to be implemented into handsets at some point in the future. The latest post on the Android Developers blog shows how a developer can optimize a Honeycomb application to run on a phone and how fragments are treated differently between the two. The post also shows how one can keep their application for tablets only.

While Honeycomb is strictly for tablets only, Ice Cream Sandwich will support just about everything, with a reassuring, “This is the way Android will stay from now on: the same version runs on all screen sizes.”

While Android has grown up a lot in its short life, the introduction of Ice Cream Sandwich will prove to be the update the operating system truly needs to provide users an experience that’s seamless across phone and tablet devices. Of course, custom Android skins may prove to be a problem but if the rumor (speculation, really, but this would solve many issues) that Google is working on a built-in theme engine, updates could come so much easier to devices.

With more and more Nexus Prime/Galaxy Nexus and Droid Prime news trickling down, the October announcement sounds more than right and we could see the introduction of the first Ice Cream Sandwich devices in early November, which would be a great birthday present for yours truly.

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