Google Acquires BeatThatQuote, Plans Aggressive Growth in 2011

One of the fastest growing websites across the pond, was purchased by Google this morning for more than $61 million (GBP 37.7 million). It wasn't Google's first acquisition of the year (that was eBook Technologies) -- and it certainly won't be its last. The search company picked up 48 different properties in 2010 (from Aardvark to LabPixies to Quiksee) and it plans to be just as "aggressive" over 2011, according to an interview with David Lawee, Google's vice president of corporate development, in this past weekend's Wall Street Journal.

"I would love to have 25 more Andy Rubins working on projects with longer time horizons than more people are willing to invest in."

The acquisition of BeatThatQuote comes after a failed attempt to pick up Groupon last year for a reported $5 billion. A website that "helps its website visitors search, compare and apply for lower rates and cheaper prices on a different array of products including financial, insurance, legal servces, utilities and shopping," according to a quick post on TheNextWeb, BeatTheQuote is currently bringing in more visitors than Facebook. "Google is set to utilize BeatThatQuote's technology to better deliver deals and financial comparisons, perhaps integrating it into its new deals service."

The purchase makes sense. Google's new deals site is meant to compete with Groupon, which is rapidly expanding, and the company has a history of successfully integrating acquired talent and products into new spin-off services. Applied Semantics, acquired in April 2003 for more than $100 million, led to AdSense, Google's popular (and multi-billion dollar revenue generating) advertising platform for Web developers, for example. And picking up Keyhole, Inc. the following year allowed Google to make much-lauded improvements to its Maps technology.

As Google continues to expand -- "I would love to have 25 more Andy Rubins here who are working on projects with longer time horizons than more people are willing to invest in," Lawee told the Journal, referring to the man running the then-small firm Android, Inc., that Google acquired in 2005 -- what other sites might it suck into its hungry maw? John Fernandez, a thoughtful power user of Quora who runs Online Marketing at IntraLinks, dared to answer that very prompt on the question and answer site.

Google could purchase the struggling MySpace from News Corp., which is looking to unload the site, or Yammer in an attempt to more clearly define its social strategy, Fernandez quessed. Maybe it will pick up PeekYou, Blekko or Hunch, three sites that are doing interesting things in the search space. Or it could just buy a bunch of things that most people don't care about. "Unfortunately, I'd expect a lot of purchases by Google in 2011 to be in this category, Fernandez wrote. "You'll probably see a bunch of acquisitions to support the Android platform, acquisitions around the 'boring' hardware and telecom infrastructure to make servers faster and the like."

One example that falls into that last category is BlindType, which Google acquired in October of last year. Hoping to improve speed and reduce error rates, BlindType is a piece of software built for smartphones that recognizes the lack of tactile feedback on your handheld's slick, glass surface and the problems that can cause. If a user starts typing "yjr" when beginning a sentence, BlindType assumes that he or she meant to type "the" and corrects the user's message after noting a shift on the digital keyboard one space to the right. That might be boring to most because BlindType isn't a splashy, multi-billion dollar service like, say, Groupon, but it has definite implications for the (important, and growing) smartphone industry.

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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