Google Laughs at Antitrust Drama, Taunts Govt with $2.6 Billion Acquisition
By CCN: When you’ve got a target on your back, the best strategy is to give your enemy more arrows. At least, that’s what Google seems to think. Just days after the government launched its antitrust crackdown against the tech titans, Google decided to put more blood in the water.
It announced that it is buying fast-growing cloud data analytics company Looker for $2.6 billion. In December, Looker raised money at a $1.6 billion valuation, meaning that Google nearly doubled that just six months later. That said, Looker was planning to IPO, so perhaps Google had to pay up to get a deal done. It’s still a lot of money though; remember that Google paid just $1.6 billion for its famous YouTube acquisition back in the day.
Google Desperately Trying to Play Catch-Up
Google’s defenders can point to a justification for its bizarrely timed move. While Google is monopolistic in search, it’s far from a monopoly in cloud – in fact, it is losing badly.
That’s right, Google isn’t just losing to Microsoft and Amazon. It also trails lighter-weights like Salesforce and IBM. Even with the addition of Looker, it will remain far behind the leaders in the cloud –especially as some question how sophisticated Looker is compared to rivals. Research firm Gartner views Looker as a niche player, albeit one that is strong is execution.
Not everyone was negative on the deal, however.
Living Under the Shadow of Government Crackdowns
Mega-tech companies now face a difficult challenge. They have to keep executing on their business strategy, which has historically included plenty of mergers and acquisitions. But every deal they make now will draw increasing fire from regulators and politicians. Arguably, Google needs to make more deals to recover lost ground against Microsoft and Amazon in the cloud. But can it do so with antitrust hounds breathing down their neck?
As NYU professor Scott Galloway has argued, the end game may be a future where the four giants: Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Apple, break up into smaller component parts.
In any case, for Google stock investors, the Looker acquisition is disastrously timed. The stock is merely flat in Thursday trading even as the stock market clambers higher. Over the past week, Google stock is down 5% and shares are down nearly 25% since their April peak.