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Inside Google’s M&A machine: 3 months, $145 million, 9 deals

May 6, 2010

It’s no secret that Google has been on a buying binge, snapping up tech start-ups at a rapid-fire pace. What’s less transparent is how much that spree is costing it.

How much money is forked over is mostly a matter for speculation. Google doesn’t disclose financial terms for most acquisitions and only a few of the deals have had financial details leak out onto the blogosophere.

So it’s a bit of a welcome surprise that TECHNOLOGY CESGoogle shed a little more light on the matter on Wednesday in a regulatory filing with the SEC, in which it said it paid a total cash consideration of $145 million for nine acquisitions in the first three months of the year.

That works out to roughly $16.11 million per deal on average, though some deals, of course, fetched higher prices (social search site Aardvark was reportedly acquired for $50 million), and some deals may have involved stock as well as cash.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt has said publicly that the search giant expects to acquire about one company a month now that it has emerged from the worst of the economic downturn. At its current pace, Google is exceeding that goal by a wide margin.

If you include the $123 million deal to buy On2 Technologies ($28 million in cash, $95 million stock), which closed in February, Google spent at least $268 million on M&A in the first quarter.

Google is known to acquire companies for the engineering talent as much as anything else. According to Wednesday’s filing, Google cited goodwill as accounting for $107 million of the $145 million in cash that it paid for the nine acquisitions.

Patents and developed technology accounted for $40 million of the M&A spending, while net assets acquired represented just $6 million (Google also recorded $8 million in deferred tax liabilities associated with the nine acquisitions).

So there you have it, a window into three months worth of Google M&A.

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