Acquisition Is The New Black – Is The Entrepreneurial Economy Back

Has anyone else noticed this trend of late? It appears as if corporate acquisitions have become the new black.

Nokia, for example, have acquired Bit-Side, Cellity and Plum so far this year. The Finnish mobile company is now reportedly targeting the London-based travel social network Dopplr.

After a hiatus, Google is also back in the M&A game. CEO, Eric Schmidt told Reuters Television:

“Acquisitions are turned on again…and we are doing our normal maneuvers, which is small companies. My estimate would be one-a-month acquisitions and these are largely in lieu of hiring.”

Google Acquisitions and Investments

Google acquired On2 Technologies last month and reCAPTCHA last week. MeetTheBoss has a subway-style map of the company’s acquisitions (thanks TechCrunch) – this may prove useful if you are trying to figure out their M&A strategy.

After a break of almost a year, Adobe turned on the spigot last month with the acquisition of start up Australian hosting and ecommerce company, Business Catalyst. They then fronted up for a billion dollar deal by acquiring Omniture, a web analytics business.

How can we forget Oracle’s billion dollar acquisition of Sun Microsystems last month.

Microsoft’s only acquisition so far this year has been BigPark, a Canadian interactive gaming company. Before this deal they had last made an acquisition this time last year.

IBM has kept up a steady pace in recent months acquiring Exeros Assets, a data discovery software company in May, both statistical analysis software developer SPSS and source code analysis company Ounce Labs in July and Singapore-based analytics and optimisation business Red Pill Solutions this week.

So, what does this mean for entrepreneurs and their financial backers?

Investors typically focus as much on the potential exit as they do on the team, the technology and the market when they are deciding whether to bring a company into their portfolio. Knowing that the corporate development VPs are once again actively scouting for deals for their companies will be comforting to venture capitalists and their limited partners. They will become more active in growing their portfolios again.

As a result the entrepreneurial economy or ecosystem will be sufficiently lubricated to begin grinding its gears and tending towards a state of equilibrium.

It’s High Time For Blogging To Embrace Social: Digital Life Aggregation

I totally agree with Om Malik’s prognostication about blogs embracing the social, lifestreaming features of services like Dopplr, Friendfeed and Twitter.

Om was writing in response to Six Apart’s release of Moveable Type Pro:

Six Apart is making the right move, for it is time for blogging to evolve…blogging is not just an act of publishing but also a communal activity. It is more than leaving comments; it is about creating connections.

He sees your personal blog acting as your digital life aggregator – an aggregation point or hub for all the various lifestreaming services or features you want to utilize wrapped or skinned with your unique identity.

The big question here is around ease of use and mass adoption. MySpace, Facebook and other services have done an incredible job in solving these two points so that anybody can very easily set up a semblance of a personalized digital life aggregator.

Does Moveable Type Pro (and hopefully soon, WordPress) go far enough in extending this metaphor for those who want to increase their independence and assert their unique identity?

In other lifestreaming news, AOL has acquired Socialthing!, which was still in private beta, and will be integrating it into the People Networks division, alongside AIM, Bebo, ICQ and others.

Y Combinator-Backed Omnisio Is YouTube’s First Post-Google Acquisition

Omnisio has been acquired by Google as YouTube’s first acquisition since they were themselves acquired a few years back. You can listen to the recent Metarand Unplugged audio interview with the video annotation startup’s CEO, Ryan Junee, here – in it we talk about the company and their journey through Paul Graham’s Y Combinator program.

Besides Ryan and his two fellow Aussie co-founders, Paul must himself be over the moon — from woe to go this must’ve been one of the quickest exits for Y Combinator. Atherton-based Omnisio launched in March 2008.

The best part – Ryan is a committed serial entrepreneur and I fully expect we’ll be hearing more great things from him in the near future.

While Ryan did not disclose to us the quantum of the deal, Michael Arrington has surmised it as being in the $15 million range.

Twitter Goes In Search, Finds Summize

I’ve been a big fan of Summize, since this Twitter search engine launched a few months ago. Whenever I’ve wanted to get an accurate snapshot of the conversation on the Twitter microblogging service about a brand, company or person I’ve used Summize.

Twitter has now announced that is has acquired Summize in what will transpire to be a mainly stock-based deal, and the Ney York-based Summize team of five will take up roles at Twitter in San Francisco shortly.

Twitter plans to merge the Summize service and API with their own and integrate it under the Twitter brand. It will be interesting to see if this enhances the Twitter experience or detracts from the Summize search function — I’m hoping it’s an improvement all round.

Borders Sells Off Australia

Borders has finalized the sale of its Australian, New Zealand and Singapore businesses in a transaction worth approximately $104M.

The purchaser, Pacific Equity Partners-owned book retailer A&R Whitcoulls Group Holdings, had to front up with $90M in cash and will also make deferred payments of $14M. In exchange they’ll add 30 bookstores to their portfolio.

Whitcoulls was formerly known as WH Smith Asia Pacific and its portfolio of book and related products companies includes Angus & Robertson, Whitcoulls, Calendar Club, Supanews and a Travel division.

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Sugar Gets Sweet With StarBrand Media

Women’s lifestyle blogging network, Sugar Inc has added StarBrand Media to its portfolio.

StarBrand represents a useful ecommerce addition – this LA-based online marketplace enables the purchase of clothes and other items viewers see on TV shows.

[via TechCrunch]

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