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.

Mapping Minds: Google Trends Meet Twitter Thoughtstream

Two of the most powerful tools for currently mapping how humanity thinks are Google Trends and Twitter Search.

I whipped up an analysis of Google versus Twitter on Google Trends and the result put Twitter far ahead in our collective consciousness. This is a really useful tool for tracking across a timeline, with clear pointers to inflection points, but it does nothing for point of origin or realtime tracking.

This is where Twitter’s Search function shines. I did an exercise last week in which I tracked a number of key words on Twitter. “jobs” not surprisingly brought up a bunch of results, mainly from job board feeds, “Sydney” alerted me to a number of interesting events taking place in the city, but the clear topic du jour was the “iPhone” – the amount of traffic on Twitter related to this device was enormous.

Imagine if we could mash up these two tools, and extend their reach beyond Twitter’s audience – this would be an extremely powerful way for marketers, politicians and many others to map our minds.

Hattip to Erick Schonfeld for getting me thinking about this.

iPhone App Development Grows Up: Goldminers and Litigators Arrive

Last year the flavor was Facebook’s F8 Platform. This year it’s been all about iPhone apps. Fast followers, like Google, with Android, and RIM are emulating Apple’s app store, but the defining moment(s) that point to the platform having reached a stage of nascent maturity are twofold:

* firstly, the Sydney Morning Herald has cottoned on to the fact that there is good money to be made from developing apps – I’ll let you read the piece written by Asher Moses for yourselves, but I suspect/hope the developers will now descend on this new vein of “easy” moola;

* secondly, an iPhone developer has taken on Coors in a litigation over a beer drinking app emulation that users the iPhone’s tilt motion. Brave move, I wish Hottrix luck and hope their law firm is taking this on purely on contingency.

It will be great to see more developers tapping into these mobile app stores, but the key will be in keeping up the quality in the apps.

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.

Google Search 2.0 = Digg Plus Friendfeed

The following video sourced from TechCrunch outlines a possible next iteration of Google Search. It’s very interesting to note the inclusion of Digg-like vote up/down features as well as on-search comments and profiling a la Friendfeed.

Should Google go ahead and implement this new feature set it will make search an order of magnitude more social.