Google gobbles up more companies


Brian Womack San Francisco

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Google's deal spending more than tripled in the first half as it works to bolster its core search and advertising business and extend its reach into new markets such as driverless cars. Photo: Reuters

Google more than tripled spending on acquisitions in the first half of the year to $4.2 billion (R44bn), as the internet company ramps up investments to expand its services.

The world’s largest online advertiser said on Friday that it spent $3.2bn for thermostat company Nest Labs in February and an additional $1bn on other purchases in the first six months. That is up from $1.3bn for the first half of last year.

This year’s numbers exclude the more than $1bn that Google has announced it would pay for home-camera company DropCam and satellite service Skybox Imaging; those deals did not close in the first half.

Google’s scale of deal spending is climbing as it works to bolster its core search and advertising business and extend its reach into new markets such as mobile devices, 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 its filing.

Google also said an antitrust investigation into its business practices by the Texas attorney-general had ended. The Texas agency started an investigation into the web company in July 2010 to look into whether Google was thwarting competition. The state sought information from Google including the search engine’s formula for setting advertising rates.

The investigation’s end follows the US Federal Trade Commission dropping a similar probe last year.

EU antitrust commissioner Joaquin Almunia also made a deal in February 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.

A Google spokesman declined to comment on the ending of the Texas investigation.

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