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Google acquires one “company per week”, chairman says

By Michelle Hammond
Thursday, 08 December 2011

Start-ups looking to be acquired by Google may already be on the company’s radar, with chairman Eric Schmidt saying the search engine giant acquires a company every week.

 

Speaking at this year’s LeWeb conference in Paris, Schmidt said Google is “acquiring around one company per week,” although the actual figures show it’s more than that.

 

Google acquired 57 companies in 2011, to the tune of $US.14 billion, ranging from restaurant review site Zagat to airline data firms for travel services.

 

Google has been particularly aggressive with its acquisitions this year, especially in the mobile, social and search areas, but is remaining tight-lipped about its acquisition strategy in 2012.

 

While Google appears to be increasingly interested in mobile, social and search offerings, it is slowly distancing itself from clean technology, shutting down green tech investment fund RE<C.

 

RE<C, which stands for Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal, was announced in 2007 by Google’s philanthropy arm Google.org.

 

The initiative was developed in an effort to drive down the cost of renewable energy, with an RE<C engineering team focused on researching improvements to solar power technology.

 

In a recent blog post, titled “More spring cleaning out of season”, Google said RE<C will be scrapped, claiming other organisations are “better positioned” to pursue such research.

 

“We’ve published our results to help others in the field continue to advance the state of power tower technology, and we’ve closed our efforts,” Google Fellow Urs Hölzle wrote.

 

“We will continue our work to generate cleaner, more efficient energy, including our on-campus efforts… and investing more than $850 million in renewable energy technologies.”

 

Meanwhile, US start-up HealthTap has secured $11.5 million in a Series A funding round led by Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavours fund, the Mayfield Fund and Mohr Davidow Ventures.

 

HealthTap allows users to ask health questions online or via mobile apps, and receive answers from US physicians across 100 medical specialties.

 

Despite launching its mobile and online services just two months ago, more than 6,000 physicians and 500 healthcare institutions already participate in the service.

 

“HealthTap has become the only place online where medical information is trusted both by physicians and by patients alike,” founder and chief executive Ron Gutman said in a statement.

 

“Doctors interact with one another and rate each other every day based on the quality of their shared medical knowledge and its helpfulness to patients.”

 

“This revolutionary approach, which we call ‘Trust Sourcing’, makes it easy for members of the community to find the most reliable health information and the best doctors in town.”

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