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Google Invests in Chinese Browser Startup

Someone needs to keep track of TechCrunch’s success-rate with their rumor-mill postings (which I am sure is high). Arrington is at it again, with “multiple sources” telling him that Google has invested $1 million into Maxthon Browser a startup that offers a browser popular among users in China.

Maxthon has had over 80 million downloads of its browser, and over half of its users are in China. Maxthon-originated searches may account for up to 25% of total Baidu traffic, according to one source.

We’ll wait and see how far this relationship develops. Obviously Google has plans to change the browser’s default search engine option from Baidu to Google, but they probably could have worked out that deal, without actually investing in the company.

DoubleClick For Sale, Again?

It’s been just under two years since internet advertising powerhouse, DoubleClick, was bought for $1.1 billion. Now, according to the WSJ (sub), it’s once again looking for a new suitor.

The New York-based company is using investment bank Morgan Stanley to help sound out its options, these people said, including a possible stock-market listing. The company is majority-owned by San Francisco private-equity firm Hellman & Friedman, which since purchasing DoubleClick in 2005 for approximately $1.1 billion, has sold off a number of divisions and reshaped the business. Hellman is seeking at least $2 billion for DoubleClick, said one person…

Microsoft is among those the company is in “active talks” with.

Hat-tip E-consultancy.

iCrossing Acquires Analytics Firm

iCrossing logoiCrossing announced yesterday that they would acquire Sharp Analytics, a Salt Lake City-based web analytics company, the latest in its string of acquisitions.

iCrossing already has “analytics and performance insight teams” that they will merge with Sharp Analytics’ personnel. Sharp will retain its brand identity. In fact, Sharp Analytics’ website copyright line already says they’re “a division of iCrossing.”

That’s a tough move to make, but since Sharp Analytics is already well established as a company and brand (and their trademarked platform is SharpView™), it would be even tougher to try to change now. It’s difficult to maintain continuity in a “blended” company, especially if more than one person from your team deals with each customer.

However, I’m sure iCrossing has learned a thing or two about how to own an SEO firm other companies.

Should Google Buy Intuit or Freshbooks?

Nicholas Carr and Rob Hyndman are at odds over whether Google should acquire Intuit – maker of Quicken and QuickBooks – or new kid on the block, Freshbooks.

Google already has a partnership with Intuit, so that tends to make sense. Carr believes…

Right now, it would be an ideal complement to Google Apps. Roll an accounting/payroll service into Google Apps, and you have a suite that literally covers all the software required by a whole lot of small businesses. And you have a strong base for moving up into the mid-market.

Hyndman counters that Freshbook is more Google’s style…

Freshbooks is a superb app with a growing base, more in the spirit of what Google buys, and is soon to be moving into accounting, too. And if Google moved quickly, they might be able to get it for under $400 million or so.

Google Confirms Acquisition of Adscape

Last month we reported Google had acquired video game ad firm, Adscape. A post on the Official Google Blog confirms the company is now a Google property.

Bernie Stolar – the “Dean of Games” for Google – explains the motivation for the purchase.

…developing these sophisticated games can be very expensive. Back in the 80s the cost of producing a single game was about $100K. Today it can cost $25M to produce a game. The good news is there are some very passionate gamers out there that have come up with some interesting new ways to introduce non-intrusive and targeted advertising in order to make gaming accessible and affordable for all.

Google Acquires Gapminder’s Graphical Trending Technology

Google has announced the acquisition of Gapminder’s Trendalyzer technology, which takes any information, stats, figures or facts and provides a graphical representation.

Here’s an excerpt from Google’s Marrisa Mayer’s blog post

…we are excited to announce that we have acquired Gapminder’s Trendalyzer software, and we welcome the Trendalyzer team to Google. Trendalyzer generates moving graphics and other novel effects in the display of facts, figures, and statistics in presentations. In its nimble hands, Trendalyzer views development data—such as regional income distribution or trends in global health—as literally a world of opportunity. Like Google, Gapminder strives to make information more useful, and Trendalyzer will improve any function or application in which data might be better visualized.

Here’s an official Google example of Trendalyzer in use. As you can see, it offers some fancy graphing and manipulation of data using Flash.

Cisco at It Again: Acquires WebEx

Just a week and a half after announcing its Tribe.net acquisition, Cisco Systems announced that it will acquire WebEx. WebEx is a B2B online meeting software. Cisco envisions this move to enhance their Unified Communications, “particularly within the Small to Medium Business (SMB) segment.” Cisco will pay $3.2 billion for the company/shares.

Unlike the Tribe.net acquition, which it derided as a “wrong bet,” GigaOM’s Om Malik calls this move “a smart one, . . . part of a bigger chess game the company is playing against Microsoft.”

Om notes that the price tag is twice that of YouTube, but WebEx is a profitable company. Last year WebEx had a net income of $47 million, after $380 million in sales.

Michael Arrington takes a dimmer view, noting WebEx’s software shortcomings.