Google’s latest and greatest acquisition is its $12.5 billion buy of Motorola, incorporating into its stable a major handset maker and patent library that transcends the company’s long-held advertising and search business model. But how many other sectors is the search giant planning to enter?
Well, just take a look at Google Ventures’ portfolio, and check out all the potential synergies that can be realized between Google’s newly-acquired handset maker, its newly-minted social network and its venture portfolio take on mobile businesses in virtually every vertical you can imagine.
How it Fits: Google’s Motorola buy could prove the tipping point for RelayRides, a transportation sharing service. Consider: Google already has an unchallenged mapping system and its growing social network could push RelayRides to millions more users—all while connecting them on the go, AND providing driving directions, via mobile device. There isn’t much that’s keeping Google from challenging Garmin, either.
RelayRides is attracting plenty of capital too. The company announced today that it just raised $10 million from backers including Google Ventures, along with Shasta Ventures, among others. To date, RelayRides has raised around $15 million.
How it Fits: One of Google Ventures’ earliest IPOs, HomeAway, a group of vacation rental websites, will have strong synergies with the company’s legacy search business. That is, unless proposals for more restrictions on tracking of consumer data aggregation gain traction.
Any user of Google’s search engine could expect query terms to be cycled through HomeAway to generate the most appealing deal. Taking that a step further, HomeAway—and Google—can advertise vacation rental packages via their social networks, even target mobile users with ads. If Google manages to partner up with hotels and national car rental chains, the search engine will be able to begin cutting travel sites like Orbitz right out of the loop, while developing a new vertical of their own. Since going public, HomeAway has only made investors like Google Ventures, including Austin Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Institutional Venture Partners and Technology Crossover Ventures, happier, keeping above its float price.
[slide title=”Silver Spring Networks”]
How it Fits: You’ve found your vacation home, driven a RelayRides car to get there. And, for Pete’s sake, you’ve left the A/C back at your place set on 68 degrees, making your home a chilly wonderland during the hot summer weekend for nobody but your pet, and perhaps someone who might burgle you in your absence. Google Ventures, over its Android OS that will be integrated into its Motorola phones, naturally has an app for that.
Silver Spring Networks operates smart grid solutions that can have you checking on your home’s temperature while you’re away, even adjusting it, much to Fido’s dismay. Expect Silver Spring to provide home energy management solutions seamlessly over Google/Motorola products. KPCB and Northgate Capital are among the investors that joined Google Ventures, pouring more than $200 million into the startup.
[slide title=”Signpost, Shopobot”]
How it Fits: You found your vacation spot, got your ride, your home is at the right temperature, now the only thing you need is some R&R and entertainment. And food. And, all of a sudden, you’re in a new town looking for a bargain on maybe takeout, maybe more.
There are several Google Ventures apps for that. Right now, consumers prefer to get daily deals offerings via inbox, but the web economy is increasingly shifting to a mobile one. Regardless of where we are in the phase of transition, Signpost, a local deals site, and Shopobot, which tracks changes in retailers’ prices, will have consumers covered. Shopobot just this summer reeled in a seed round (it was founded in January), with AOL Ventures joining Google’s VCs, and Signpost reaped investment capital from Google Ventures and Spark Capital, separately.
How it Fits: The Hub doesn’t want to insult your intelligence explaining how a mobile and social gaming company—one that is being eyed as potentially the next PopCap, to be acquired by a mega-strategic—fits into Google’s mobile ambitions. Google Ventures’ site perhaps sums it up best: “Kabam is leading the next wave of gaming—hardcore social games” that are “highly immersive.” What better way to continually engage an audience than tethering them to Google/Motorola devices via both Google+ and Kabam’s title library? Canaan Partners and Intel Capital are among the VCs that joined in to provide Kabam with more than $120 million in funding.