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Meet Google's human search engine for innovation

Jon Brodkin | March 1, 2011
As developer advocate at Google, Don Dodge treks across the country looking for innovative startups that Google can help make successful.

Dodge was also impressed by NeuAer, which was at the Launch conference. The startup "uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for proximity location identification," Dodge says. "It's a platform for connecting all kinds of devices, phones, cars and appliances and letting you know when they're in proximity to you."

Great technology alone isn't enough to catch Google's eye, though, especially when it considers making an acquisition. A billion-dollar merger could be mostly about acquiring technology, or moving into new markets by appropriating an existing customer base. But the sub-$100 million acquisitions are usually about acquiring talent.

One great example is Google's 2005 purchase of Android, which was founded by Andy Rubin and Rich Miner. The powerhouse growth of Android might not have been possible at a small startup, but under Google it was -- and Rubin still leads development of Android for Google while Miner is part of Google's venture capital team.

At DEMO, about 50 startups presented new technologies this week, hoping for venture capital investments. While the startup dream is to become the next Google or Facebook, getting purchased by one of those companies would also be a successful outcome.

"It's all about the team, really," Dodge says. "That's the No. 1 determinant of making an acquisition. That was true at Microsoft too. I think most acquisitions are No. 1 about acquiring talent, No. 2, acquiring technology, and maybe No. 3, acquiring customers. The most important thing is the team."


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