ITA Software Stories January 27, 2012

As 9to5Google reported last October, the search Goliath appears to be on a spending spree since 2011. Having reported holiday quarter earnings, the company filed its 10-K with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday. The document, available online at the agency’s website, specifies that Google spent $1.9 billion dollars acquiring 79 companies throughout last year.

The sum includes cash and stock and is nearly double the $1 billion they spent on 48 acquisitions in the previous year. For the entire 2011, the number of full-time employees at the company ballooned 33 percent to 32,467 Googlers. Just do not count on the company satisfying its appetite for acquisitions anytime soon, as the filing reads:

Acquisitions will also remain an important component of our strategy and use of capital, and we expect our current pace of acquisitions to continue.

So, has Google put its acquisition money to good use?

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ITA Software Stories January 21, 2012

Google announced last night that it would be discontinuing a number of its services in the coming months because they “replicate other features, haven’t achieved the promise we had hoped for or can’t be properly integrated into the overall Google experience.”

Two things jump out at me regarding these closures:

  1. Google is channeling its lab-like smaller products into features of Google Plus.  It almost feels like if it isn’t Android or Search (both recently got heavy + integration), it will soon be part of Google Plus.
  2. Larry Page is heeding the advice he got from Steve Jobs: “Figure out what Google wants to be when it grows up. It’s now all over the map,” read the biography of Jobs’ interaction with Page. Later, Jobs came to Page with a sharped-tongue warning that Google was making products, “That are adequate but not great. They’re turning you into Microsoft.”  Page is now striving for greatness by putting “more wood behind fewer arrows”

Most notably for consumers, Picnik, the Cloud photo editing software, will be discontinued in April.

Picnik: We acquired this online photo editor in 2010. We’re retiring the service on April 19, 2012 so the Picnik team can continue creating photo-editing magic across Google products. You can download a zip file of your creations through Picnik Takeout or copy them to Google+. As of now, the premium service is free to everyone. Premium members will receive a full refund in the coming weeks.

We will likely see Picnik’s features reincarnated in Google Plus —where Google wants users to be storing photos anyway.  Google did the same thing to Picasa late last year.

Google also announced that it will close Urchin Web Analytics, the company it bought in 2005 to make Google Analytics cloud service.  Google kept the offline product available, but it will discontinue updates and sales, then subsequently direct customers to the Google product.

Urchin: helps businesses of all sizes measure their websites and online marketing. We’re fully committed to building an industry-leading online analytics product, so we’re saying goodbye to the client-hosted version, known as Urchin Software. New Urchin Software licenses will no longer be available after March 2012.

Google’s Skymap App project, which was started by some Pittsburgh Googlers in their 20 percent time, will now be Open Sourced and run out of nearby Carnegie Mellon.

A number of other services were also slated for termination…

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