On top of the buzz of Microsoft trying to buy Yahoo over the past week, Google has been making some acquisition waves of their own : despite these moves currently being rumors.
Google has been whispered to be going after two very different social networking companies : Bebo and Plaxo.
Bebo & Google :
Bebo is a generalized social network, like Orkut or MySpace would be, with a very solid global following. Erik Schonfield of TechCrunch feels that this is almost a done deal and is “51% sure” the deal will happen. As strong as Orkut is in Brazil and Friendster is in the Pacific Rim, Bebo has a very strong following in the UK and its common wealths; Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.
Google would be fortifying itself and its search engine in these markets, which it already dominates and does quite well in. Furthermore, with 21 million users, Bebo would double Google’s hold on social networking, as it now enjoys 24 million users in Orkut.
On the other hand, Google has experienced challenges monetizing MySpace with its Google Search & AdWords partnership. Actually acquiring Bebo could help however, since then no revenue split in the ad network would lead to lowering monetization – nor would the threat of a partner pulling out and going with a Google competitor; like Microsoft-Yahoo!
Plaxo & Google :
According to Megan McCarthy at Wired, Plaxo is on the market for $200 million and Google has become its suitor. Plaxo is a social style application but way different than Bebo and more similar to LinkedIn. Plaxo lets its users keep all of their contacts and address books in a centralized location online.
Furthermore, Plaxo also has open social networking deals via Plaxo Pulse which lets users stay connected with business contacts across various platforms such as Flickr, Digg, Twitter and other social scenes, producing a social map of your connections and what they’re doing online.
Given Google’s interest in competing with Facebook by delivering its own social map via its open social projects, Plaxo seems like it would be a very relevant fit into the Google model. Furthermore, services like LinkedIn and Facebook continue to grow as business networking clients. Google needs to be in this industry and Plaxo would get it there almost instantly, connecting Google users via their Google Profiles and Google Accounts.