Google plans to focus M&A activity on AI this year

Dive Brief:

  • Google corporate development leader Don Harrison says his company’s M&A activities are focused on AI this year, according to Fortune.

  • Google also plans to focus on cloud and the enterprise, as well as anything that is game changing. "Because we’re product-focused and product-driven, we’re reactive to the environment," Harrison said, in an interview with Fortune. "When we see products or developments or large companies that are solving a problem in a new way, that drives M&A interest."

  • Harrison admits not all deals will succeed. To ensure deals succeed, Harrison said organizations need to ensure companies leaders "share a vision" with the founder; ensure strategy is driving M&A; and making sure after companies join Google they have the support they need.

Dive Insight:

Google completed about 20 deals in 2016, and Harrison expects that number to stay roughly the same in 2017.

The company has honed its due diligence in recent years, according to Harrison. Because most startups hunger to be acquired by a company like Google, Harrison has to make sure any company Google buys is worth the investment.

M&A activity is also a key way for Google to acquire capabilities quickly rather than grow solutions internally. Google’s last big acquisition was application programming interface (API) management company Apigee, which it purchased for $625 million last September. APIs are seen as an increasingly vital part of how business gets done today, and therefore viewed by Google as a critical investment.

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