The acquisition strategy of Google

Mon, Mar 12, 2012


Check out this fascinating article from Wade Roush of Xconomy describing, in tantalizing detail, the mechanics behind Google’s acquisition process. While Google has had a number of acquisitions which failed to pan out (i.e Dodgeball), they’ve had many more successes than failures. Further, many of Google’s acquisitions (from Keyhole to Android) would go on to become integral parts of the Google we now know today.

How does Google go about choosing which companies to acquire? What steps does it take to ensure a seamless transition for the acquired company’s technology and employees?

Google has worked to refine a set of procedures and resources—a whole infrastructure, really—to make sure every acquired team finds a foothold within the company, a home where they can get to work on achieving their vision. The reorganization under Page was the starting point. “There has been a sea change that makes it easier to help people understand where they fit in,” says Butler. “If we are going to make an acquisition for Chrome, then Sundar [Pichai, vice president of product management] and his vice president and directors are going to be behind it, and there is going to be an executive at Google responsible for those people. There is always a sponsor.”

Butler herself is a key facilitator. Over the last year, she’s doubled the size of her integration team, from four to eight—and she says there are another 80 M&A experts across Google’s core product areas. There are specialists who handle setting up newly acquired teams with office space, desks, and chairs; making sure that patents, contracts, and other assets and obligations are smoothly transferred; training managers to understand how performance reviews, promotions, and other procedures work inside Google; and even transferring an acquired company’s software into Google’s code base. “My team works as the quarterback and keeps all the other teams moving,” Butler says.

Roush covers it all and a whole lot more. It’s worth your time to give it a read.


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