China's leaders are eager to see local companies invest in overseas assets, grow their businesses and improve the overall image of China. But the government isn't ready to loosen control over its own assets.
It has been a couple years since Google announced a multi-billion dollar acquisition that caused peoples' jaws to drop. On Monday, the company did just that with the news that it had entered into an agreement to buy Nest, which makes smart thermostats and smoke detectors, for $3.2 billion in cash.
There’s been a lot of buzz about Yahoo’s new role as an acquisition hound of late, and Mayer’s attempts to turn the beleaguered giant into a mobile-first company and energize its ranks with young, acqui-hired talent. But Yahoo isn’t alone in its pursuit of “serial acquirer” status.
“We believe the tea category is ripe for reinvention and rapid growth. The Teavana acquisition now positions us to disrupt and lead, just as we did with espresso starting three decades ago,” Starbucks CEO
The recently acquisitive MDC Partners is at it again, with a deal that is indicative of the growing recognition along Madison Avenue of how much more interested marketers are becoming in using public relations to reach consumers. Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal & Partners in New York, which is owned by MDC, is acquiring a majority stake in Kwittken & Company, a public relations agency in New York with annual revenue approaching $10 million and clients like Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, McGraw-Hill and Thomson Reuters.
The cost of acquiring new customers can easily add up to five times that of retaining current customers. In the new world of marketing, where CMOs are more cost conscious than ever, a focus on customer retention is a necessarily logical pursuit. This isn't just my opinion; we've done the research to back it up. Our company recently completed our fourth annual study of the restaurant industry, the Leaky Bucket 2010. The study analyzes the return intent of customers to a restaurant brand. Conducted in March, the study included 2,483 respondents and analyzed more than 146 brands. Our methodology analyzes a brand's leak score. The higher a leak score, the more customers that brand is losing; lower leak scores indicate a higher level of customer retention. For the fourth year in a row, the study results overwhelmingly indicate that brands that invest in guest experience retain more of their customer base and can thereby reduce marketing expenses and increase profitability.
Having a well known brand can be a wonderful thing—you have a base of customers who know and trust your offerings. However, marketers often ignore this brand loyal segment, and chase after new customers instead. While developing new business is a necessity, marketers shouldn’t let existing customers get left behind.
The Walt Disney Company on Tuesday became Hollywood’s leader in the booming social game business by acquiring Playdom in a deal worth as much as $763.2 million.
Google has bought semantic search startup Metaweb, according to recent post on the search giant’s blog. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Metaweb develops both semantic data storage infrastructure for the web, and Freebase, an “open, shared database of the world’s knowledge”. Freebase is a massive, collaboratively edited database of cross-linked data. The idea behind the product is to create a system for building the semantic web. Freebase allows anyone to contribute, structure, search, copy and use data. It sounds like Wikipedia, but instead of arranging by articles, it is more of an almanac, organized like a database, and readable by people and software. You can read our previous coverage of Freebase here. Clearly, Google is acquiring Metaweb to boost its own search offerings.
Shopping giant Amazon bought online auction phenomenon Woot today, and given the relative sizes of the companies, it can only be a move made with long-term Amazon strategy in mind. Earlier this afternoon we wrote about the deal as a victory for freaks and a marriage of light- and heavy-weight supply chains, but there's something else going on here, too. Woot is bringing real-time social shopping to Amazon.
Steve Jobs denied that Apple is developing a search engine when he was asked on stage at the D8 conference recently - not that that tells us anything about what's really going on in Cupertino's labs. But the speculation persists not about if Apple will move into search, but when, how and why.
Hewlett-Packard Co. scooped up Palm Inc. for about $1 billion in cash, pushing the computer giant deeper into the competitive smartphone market and ending the independence of a struggling company that was rapidly running out of prospects.
Siri, a tiny voice search startup, confirmed that Apple acquired them today. Siri describes themselves as a kind of Internet-connected voice search option--"You can ask Siri to find a romantic place for dinner, tell you what’s playing at a local jazz club or get tickets to a movie for Saturday night." This goes way beyond "dial Mommy." And why does Apple care about this? Because Google is amazing at it.
Will Volvo's recent takeover by Geely (Mandarin for lucky) prove to be lucky for both companies? The Hangzhou-based company paid Ford $1.8 billion ($1.6 billion for a 100% equity stake and $200 million for a credit note), and raised $900 million to keep Volvo running, which took the total tab to $2.7 million. To finance this deal, Geely secured $2.1 billion of loans from Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Export-Import Bank of China, Geely Automobile Holdings (the group's listed arm), and the government of Gothenburg, where Volvo is headquartered. In return, Geely has promised to return Volvo, which made a $934 million loss last year, to profits in two years' time. Is that possible?
China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. agreed to buy Volvo cars from Ford Motor Co. on Sunday for $1.8 billion, a landmark agreement designed to vault the Chinese company onto the global automotive stage. The Volvo deal—which comes after China surpassed the U.S. last year as the biggest auto market—puts a Chinese company for the first time in charge of a major global car brand.
Does your company measure financial performance? Keep track of sales, employee turnover, bad debt and general and administrative costs? Plan annual spending and review projects with a view of return on investment (ROI) and return on invested capital (ROIC)? Do you have periodic reviews to assess progress against your plan? Those are the basic building blocks of any well-run company.
I'm very much afraid the government has created a dangerous precedent by bailing out the "too big to fail" banks, insurance firms and auto companies. Now the marketing strategy of corporations will be to get big at any cost so that no matter how badly they screw up, the government will save their bacon. A good case in point is Delta Air Lines. Delta has gotten to be the biggest U.S. carrier by buying Northwest. But Delta wants to get even bigger by forging alliances with Japan Airlines and Australia's Virgin Blue.
Analysts estimate that fewer than 5 percent of the HDTVs sold in the United States last year can go online to pull in movies and television shows, bypassing traditional cable and satellite TV service. Now, however, the idea of an Internet-ready home entertainment setup has a powerful new backer: Wal-Mart.
Yesterday brought the news that Google has officially purchased Aardvark, a small San-Francisco-based social search startup that happens to have been created by former Google employees. The timing, coming just two days after Google unveiled Buzz, can't be coincidental--but what can Aardvark do for Google? An awful lot, as it turns out.
The news broke today that Google will be buying Aardvark, a human (and algorithm) powered social search engine that I have written about quite a bit (early last year, most recently, all). I've also featured the service's founders at both Web2 and the CM Summit.) I've confirmed the news in an email with CEO Max Ventilla. I can't say I'm surprised by this news. Aardvark's founders and advisers have strong ties with Google (Ventilla worked there, and a key adviser was at Kaltix, which was purchased by Google). To me the critical question around this move is this: Will the Aardvark acquisition be a Dodgeball, or will it be a Applied Semantics?
Monster finally got its HotJobs. Yahoo outbid Monster for the jobs site back in 2002, but those were different times. Now Yahoo has agreed to sell HotJobs to Monster for $225 million in cash, helping Monster vault rival CareerBuilder in U.S. web traffic, according to ComScore. HotJobs had been on the block for months as Yahoo attempts to pare down non-core businesses and focus on display-ad revenue from content and services. Its sale includes a three-year traffic deal where Monster remains the exclusive provider of jobs listings services across Yahoo's properties in the U.S. and Canada. It also includes the right to negotiate exclusively in other international territories.
After announcing earlier Wednesday that it closed its $7 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems, Oracle followed up with a previously scheduled Webcast during which executives laid out the rationale for the acquisition and detailed plans for much of Sun's product portfolio. When the acquisition was first announced, it seemed an odd match to many. Oracle was a software company, and Sun was widely thought of as a hardware company--though it was really more than that. But there was always another aspect to this, if you thought more broadly about where the computer industry was headed.
Oracle, having spent the last nine months fighting rivals and regulators in order to own Sun Microsystems, has pushed itself into the middle of the scrum of technology heavyweights all jostling for the same corporate customers. The $7.4 billion deal, which gives Oracle a vast hardware business for the first time, pits it against Hewlett-Packard, I.B.M., Dell and Cisco Systems, all of which have made a flurry of acquisitions and alliances. Many of these moves broadened the companies’ products and services from their traditional specialties, like databases, computers or networking equipment. Each company wants to be able to claim to prospective customers that it, and it alone, has more of the parts to be an end-to-end service provider.
Tyco International Ltd. announced plans to buy Brink's Home Security Holdings Inc., also known as Broadview Security, for $2 billion, the first major acquisition for Tyco in eight years since the company was rocked by scandal and split into several pieces. Tyco executives said the acquisition would broaden Tyco's largest revenue-producing business group, the ADT security franchise, further into the residential market.
Kraft is planning to raise the value of its £10.5bn hostile bid for Cadbury as early as Monday to more than 800p a share by adding more cash after investors rejected its initial offer. The US food group is considering taking advantage of Monday’s US public holiday, Martin Luther King Day – on which US stock markets are closed – to put forward a revised offer after its stock closed on Friday at $29.58, near 52-week highs.
American Airlines and its partners in the Oneworld alliance sweetened their offer to Japan Airlines to $1.4 billion to keep the struggling national carrier from joining hands with rival Delta Air Lines. The announcement came as JAL shares plunged 45 percent to a record low, wiping out nearly $900 million in market value, on growing expectations the airline is headed for bankruptcy and a delisting from the Tokyo exchange.
Shareholders of Marvel Entertainment, the publisher of Spider-Man and the Hulk comics, on Thursday approved the company’s acquisition by the Walt Disney Company, as expected. Marvel said the $4.3 billion acquisition would close at the end of the day, bringing Spider-Man, Iron Man and 5,000 other comic-book characters under the same roof as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.
Sanofi-Aventis is to buy U.S. consumer healthcare group Chattem Inc for around $1.9 billion, in a deal which will give the French drugmaker over-the-counter presence in the huge United States market. Sanofi said it would start a tender offer for all of Chattem's shares at $93.50 per share, a premium of 34 percent over Friday's closing price. Chattem shares rose 32.8 percent to $92.95 in early trade, while Sanofi was down 0.07 percent at 54.62 euros. The deal fits with Sanofi Chief Executive Chris Viehbacher's plan to broaden the group's business away from prescription drugs, aiming to offset looming sales losses of older drugs due to generic competition and to new branded rivals.
Jeremy Stoppleman, the CEO of Yelp, has walked away from an all-but-signed deal to be acquired by Google for more than half a billion dollars. The deal was, as we wrote late last week, in the later stages of negotiation. The two companies had agreed on a price – around $550 million plus earnouts – and were working through the final details of the acquisition. Then something happened that made Yelp reconsider the deal. Over the weekend they notified Google that they were not going to sell, say multiple sources.
According to sources close to the situation, along with its pending bid for Yelp, Google has been in on-again, off-again acquisition talks with Trulia, the real-estate search engine. It is unclear what price Google would pay, but sources estimate that Trulia's valuation ranges between $150 million and $200 million, although there could be a big premium on that.
In a sign that Google is interested in broadening its reach among local businesses, the search giant is in acquisition talks with Yelp, the review site for local businesses, according to three people with knowledge of the deal. The two companies have had conversations for several years, but a more serious round of acquisition talks began two months ago, one of the people said late Thursday. The companies have discussed a price and are negotiating the details, but have not yet signed an agreement.
IBM decided to close 2009 with a bang by acquiring Lombardi, a privately held provider of business process management (BPM) software. Big Blue racked up a number of acquisitions this year including: data discovery software firm Exeros, database security firm Guardium, security provider Ounce Labs, and analytics provider SPSS. Lombardi marks IBM's 90th acquisition since 2003. That's a lot of companies to digest. With Lombardi, IBM strengthens its presence in BPM by effectively capturing the customers it doesn't already have. IBM currently has more than 5,000 BPM customers in about 30 countries and growing.
Bloomberg is planning a further year of aggressive investment and may make more acquisitions as the financial data group seeks to broaden its reach to become the world’s “most influential source of news”.
Agencies and even rival mobile ad networks appeared to welcome Google's proposed $750 million acquisition of AdMob announced Monday as a ringing endorsement of the emerging mobile ad market. The hefty sum that Google is willing to spend to snap up the leading mobile ad network -- launched only three years ago -- shows that the long-hyped potential of mobile advertising is finally becoming a reality, they say. While the move is likely to shake up the competitive landscape in the short term, overall, it helps legitimize mobile as an advertising medium. "It's great validation for the mobile market, and sends a clear message to publishers and media buyers that there are real opportunities to make money off the sector," said Eric Litman, CEO of Medialets, which supplies rich media technology and ad-serving for mobile applications.
In a push to expand its digital advertising empire to cellphones, Google has agreed to acquire AdMob, a fast-growing mobile advertising start-up, for $750 million in stock, the companies said Monday. AdMob is one of the top sellers of banner ads on iPhone applications and Web pages that can be retrieved from mobile phones. The acquisition could help establish Google as an early leader in the small but rapidly expanding mobile phone advertising business.
Unilever PLC said Friday that it plans to buy Sara Lee's personal care unit for $1.87 billion in cash in an effort to boost its presence in Western Europe and in Asia. Unilever is a major Anglo-Dutch consumer products maker that owns well-known brands like Dove soap and Axe deodorant. "Personal care is a strategic category and a key growth driver for Unilever," said Unilever Chief Executive Paul Polman, in a statement. "The Sara Lee brands enjoy strong consumer recognition, offer significant growth potential and are an excellent fit."
Skype's new owners — Silver Lake Partners, Marc Andreessen, and company — are getting a company valued at $2.75 billion (according to former owner eBay) with 405 million users. That's $6.79 per registered user, and a little over five times Skype's 2008 revenue of $511 million. Skype grew by 44% in 2008. So did the sale — in which eBay retains a 35% stake in the company — come cheap or dear? My guess is that the buyers got a good deal because the human voice is our most fundamental communication medium.
Mickey Mouse is bringing in some muscle. Significantly beefing up its stable of characters, Walt Disney Co. announced Monday that it had reached a deal to acquire Marvel Entertainment Inc., the comic book company whose superheroes have become Hollywood blockbusters, for $4 billion in cash and stock. The acquisition hands Disney a treasure trove of pop culture figures, including Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America, Thor and the Fantastic Four, among a roster of 5,000 that it hopes will inspire countless movies, television shows and video games.
Among the conundrums left by the newspaper die-off: What is the new model for local news and information, once the sole province of community newspapers? MSNBC.com snapped up one of the more promising efforts, EveryBlock.com. The startup, founded by programmer and journalist Adrian Holovaty, was funded by the Knight Foundation's "news challenge" program, an annual contest for innovations in local news.
Facebook makes a play and acquires Friendfeed, a sharing and aggregation tool that helps people find out what their friends are doing. Read Friendfeed’s announcement, and Facebook’s blog post. A few months ago the Facebook and Twitter deal fell apart, and Facebook knows it must open its community to the open web –not just behind a login in order to benefit from generating revenues through advertising and search advertising. This Friendfeed acquisition make sense as it’s primarily a buy of the talent and team –not so much the website itself.
Amazon this week acquired Zappos for $847 million in cash and stock. Since Zappos founder Tony Hsieh asked and answered some of his own questions about the deal in a letter to employees, I thought it'd be useful to engage in a Q&A with myself about the deal.
In true Zappos fashion, CEO Tony Hsieh alerted the masses that his company had been purchased by Amazon via a tweet and his blog.
Amazon just announced that they're spending $800,000,000.00 (looks better that way) to buy Zappos.com. But wait. Amazon already has plenty of shoes. Amazon already has great technology. Amazon already has relationships with Fedex and UPS. What you buy when you spend that kind of money is what matters now.
The rumors are ripe that Apple, Microsoft, Google and News Corp are all sniffing around Twitter – but no one has mentioned the best fit: Amazon. If Amazon doesn’t jump into the arena, someone at Twitter ought to make a call to Jeff Bezos. Neither Amazon nor Twitter should miss the powerful synergies from merging the two companies.
You read it here first, back in June 2007: "The real risk for innocent is the sell-out. Indeed, my money goes on Coke to be the one who swallows Innocent." Last week came news confirming that innocent had sold its soul, or at least 20% of it, for a cool £30million.