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Google triples spending on acquisitions to $4.2b


Bloomberg file photo

San Francisco: Google more than tripled spending on acquisitions in the first half of the year to $4.2 billion, as the Internet company ramps up investments to expand its services.

The world's largest online advertiser spent $3.2 billion for thermostat company Nest Labs in February and an additional $1 billion on other purchases in the first six months of 2014, the Mountain View, California-based Web company said in a filing on Thursday. That's up from $1.3 billion for the same period a year ago, according to a previous filing.
The 2014 numbers exclude the more than $1 billion that Google has announced it is paying for home-camera company DropCam and satellite service Skybox Imaging; those deals didn't close in the first half.
Google's scale of deal spending is climbing as it works to bolster its core search-advertising business and extend its reach into new markets such as mobile, telecommunications and driverless cars. The company's smaller acquisitions this year have covered everything from drones to video advertising.

"These acquisitions generally enhance the breadth and depth of our expertise in engineering and other functional areas, our technologies, and our product offerings," the company said in a filing.

Antitrust probe
Google also said in the filing that an antitrust investigation into its business practices by the Texas Attorney General's office has ended. The attorney general's office had started an investigation into the Web company in July 2010 to look into whether Google was thwarting competition.

The state had sought information from the company including the search engine's formula for setting advertising rates.

The investigation's end follows the United States Federal Trade Commission dropping a similar probe last year. The European Union Antitrust Commissioner Joaquin Almunia in February also made a deal to resolve a dispute over how Google uses its market leadership to deal with competitors. Under the plan, Google pledged to display results from rival search services. The agreement has since come under criticism.

Tim Drinan, a spokesman for Google, declined to comment on the ending of Texas investigation.
Earlier on Friday, European Union privacy regulators continued to criticise Google a day after a data-protection summit where officials demanded the company justify its decision to notify publishers when removing links to personal data.

Google is the only company to notify websites that it is taking down links to material to comply with a court ruling that allows EU residents to erase references to personal data, said Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, who heads a group of European Union privacy regulators.

"There has been a climate of controversy that's been entertained in order to maybe endanger the right to be forgotten," Falque-Pierrotin said.  "It has led some people to say that the right to be forgotten leads to censorship of the press which is not the case" because only a link is removed from some search results.

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