A day when Google will own it all is not far off

Konstantin Sheiko
February 8, 2018

Google has evolved from a tiny, garage-based enterprise into a global entity in a very short period time. Having become a financial monster with an insatiable appetite, Google has acquired 182 companies to date. Many of these deals might not make any sense to the outsider since Google seems to buy pretty much everything, including a lot of companies specializing in some crazy stuff. However, with a market cap of roughly $436 billion, Google can afford to splash some cash. The strategy that seems erratic at first glance has its own logic. So far, the Internet giant has dipped its toe in just about everything - from music streaming via their 2014 acquisition of Songza to child-friendly apps via the Launchpad Toys acquisition - Google seemingly has it all with no sign of slowing down.  

It is also interesting to point out that Google has been intensively acquiring robot-producing companies, indicating fairly accurately as to what kind of future awaits us tomorrow. Overall, almost all of their acquisitions are concentrated either in tech relayed, or high-end tech fields, with Google becoming one of the global purveyors of technological progress along with Elon Musk. In April 2015 Google acquired Tilt Brush designs, which is basically a tool that lets you paint three-dimensional images. The user can stick with basic brush strokes or add smoke or light to their images. A variety of brush types are offered, from dry ink strokes to strokes that look like leaves. There is even an option to use brushes that animate what you draw. Users can then make an AutoGif to share what they created. Google has integrated it with Google Cardboard, which lets you experience virtual reality, so that you can experience the 3D images created using Tilt Brush.  

On the same day in April 2015 when Google acquired Tilt Brush, the company also bought THRIVE Audio creates headphones. THRIVE is a company that was born out of Trinity College Dublin’s engineering department that creates headphones that let you experience 3D audio. It is hard to conceptualise 3D audio, but essentially it reacts to a listener’s movements in virtual scenario, accounting for height, depth, and distance. Like Tilt Brush, THRIVE integrates with Google Cardboard so that you can experience surround sound in virtual reality. 

n 2014, Google bought Zync, a company that plays a role in the creation of feature films like the third “Transformers” and “Star Trek Into Darkness”. Initially started as a Boston-based startup, Zync provides cloud-based rendering tools for visual effects companies. Zync used to run on an Amazon Web Services public cloud, making the acquisition a bit of a blow to Amazon. It integrates with Google Cloud platform. 

In 2014, Google bought Titan Aerospace company that creates solar-powered drones that are intended to fly nonstop for years. For example, the Titan Aerospace Solara-50 has a wingspan of 150 feet and is equipped with 3,000 solar cells, which can provide 7 kW of electricity to stay airborne for five years. Google has not talked publicly about how much they bought the drone maker for, but Facebook was initially interested in offering $60 million for the company. Titan assists Google with a variety of projects, from collecting aerial photos of the planet to beaming internet to parts of the world that are not connected as part of Google's Project Loon. 

In 2014, Google moved toward smart home technology with Nest, acquiring this company for $3.2 billion. The company is primarily known for its smart thermostat that can be controlled by your phone from anywhere. Nest will learn a user’s behaviour to adjust and save money. The company also creates a smart fire detector and a smart home security camera. Nest will operate as a separate business under Alphabet. 

In 2013, the same month Google acquired several robotics companies, Google bought Boston Dynamics that is famous worldwide for its humanoid bipedal robot Atlas that can do backflips. The company collaborates with the army, navy, and marines to make highly-advanced robots. A a four-legged robot dog named Spot can help scout for danger for a Marine rifle squad is one of their creations. Boston Dynamics integrate with Google X, the fairly secretive lab that creates self-driving cars and glucose-sensing contact lenses. Google X will operate under Alphabet.  

In 2013, Google acquired Bot & Dolly, alongside their design firm Autofuss. Bot & Dolly is a design and engineering studio that creates the software and hardware that controls industrial robots that is best known for bringing the effect of weightlessness in the Oscar-winning film “Gravity”. They combine their massive robotic arms with custom software for movies and other entertainment installations, and integrate with Google X. 

In December 2013 Google bought a joint venture of two companies, Meka and Redwood Robotics. The joint venture is the maker of robots designed to work in everyday environments, and is best known for its Meka M1 Mobile Manipulator robot, a humanoid robot with dexterous arms that can perform everyday tasks. It also created the Dreamer, a super cute robot with expressive eyes and ears (the eyes were inspired by anime and the ears by puppies). The Dreamer was designed to work around people. They integrate with Google X. SCHAFT is a private company born out of Tokyo that created a robot that won the DARPA Robotics Challenge in 2013. The 209-pound bipedal robot is capable of driving, traversing over rough terrain, and climbing a ladder. It was acquired in December 2013, and they integrate with Google X. 

Google has continued with its shopping spree, acquiring more businesses in 2015-2017. If we were to break the acquired companies down according to specific areas of their activity, we see that Google focuses on buying the enterprise tools and productivity companies, media and entertainment, social and photos, mobile and telecommunications, advertising, development tools and cloud platform, maps and automobiles, mobile, Internet software and services, advertising, search and commerce, consumer electronics, business intelligence, analytics and performance management, and scientific and engineering companies. The geography of acquisitions is equally impressive, spread from North America to Europe, India and Japan. The bulk of acquisitions though was made in the United States, and to narrow it down, in California. Without any doubt, Google is consolidating its position as the US based high-tech giant with global outreach.