Two Decade-Defining Acquisitions? Then (Google) & Now (Apple)

Back in 2003 Google acquired Applied Semantics for just over $100M. This startup had a little technology called AdSense which allowed for the presentation of contextually relevant ads on a set of distributed publisher sites. Obviously this moniker lives on in Google’s ad network, Adsense for Content, which serves as a base for a significant chunk of Google’s revenue today. In a decade in which we saw the web become increasingly distributed with a proliferation websites and content, this acquisition served as a foundation to empower Google to move beyond their core search Adwords product. With it, Google monetized via advertising not only on their own search pages, but beyond. I nodded my head in agreement reading Tristan Lewis’s post last month calling it the #1 tech deal that defined the decade.

Fast forward to this week (in a new decade) and Apple agrees to acquire Quattro Wireless. Like with Google’s acquisition of Applied Semantics, this deal adds a fundamentally new business model to the company. Not only will Apple now be able to monetize through physical product and content (first-party software & resold entertainment media) sales, it will be able to generate real revenue via advertising. In a decade where we’re going to see a proliferation of mobile device incarnations and media content manifestations, adding the ad network bow to the Apple quiver gives the company that ability to monetize not just at the core of what consumer experiences they control, but everywhere. Sound familiar? It should be duly noted that, unlike Google, Apple isn’t very acquisitive (14 vs. 59 in the past ten years). So when they buy something… it’s meaningful. And I think this move means a whole lot.

David Beisel

David Beisel is a co-founder and Partner at NextView Ventures. He has been focused on early stage Internet startups his entire career, both as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist. As an investor in the digital media space, David was most recently a Vice President at Venrock and previously a Principal at Masthead Venture Partners. Prior to becoming a venture capitalist, David co-founded Sombasa Media, an e-mail marketing company best known for its flagship product BargainDog. Sombasa was successfully acquired by where David served as Vice President of Marketing. David holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an AB in Economics, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Duke University. He also founded and leads the Boston Innovators Group, an organization which holds quarterly entrepreneur events drawing a thousand attendees.