Acquiring is how we grow


Companies have been fighting and acquiring to preserve their positions in the tech industry and also create for themselves newer avenues and opportunities for product/service development. The combat is always to see who will win the contest to architect the future. April has been the month of acquisitions. Microsoft acquired Nokia; Twitter acquired Gnip, SecondSync and Mesagraph Facebook bought Ascenta Google settled with Titan Aerospace

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The acquisition binge, especially in the social networking sphere is indicative of the growing strength and interference of social networks in everyday life. They are also indicators of the longevity deemed to social networking as a way of not just bringing people together but tracking important markers of brands in markets, social opinion, brand conversations, trends and consumer psyche. The acquisitions/partnerships are recognition that investments in social data are healthier than ever. Shortly put, social data is the new oil.

We go on to explore a few of these tech marriages in this column.



The GNIP addition

“Welcome to the flock, Gnip”, was how Jana Messerschmidt, VP, Global Business Development & Platform at Twitter greeted their latest acquisition and long standing data research partner in his blog post.

Twitter acquired long-time social data analytics firm Gnip, one of the four companies with access to firehose. Gnip’s acquisition follows Apple’s purchase of Topsy another company with access to the firehose, in December 2013. Twitter’s acquisition of Gnip is considered a defensive move designed to keep at least one of the firehose companies in-house. The acquisition leaves just two independent providers of firehose in the open - Datasift and NTT Data.

Gnip founded in 2008 has a four year history with Twitter and services other social networking mediums as well. Its customer base include Facebook, Tumblr, Google+ among others totalling about 16. Gnip has played a crucial role in collecting and digesting public data from tweets helping researchers, marketers, brands, finance, politics and public relations with deep analysis of customer psyche and preferences and, a chatter of what is going to rock the world next. The social data analytics firm is one of the world’s largest having provided 2.3 trillion tweets to customers in 42 countries so far. Twitter claims that no business relationships Gnip has with others will change with this acquisition. It shall be business as usual for Gnip with its other clients.


“We want to make our data even more accessible, and the best way to do that is to work directly with our customers to get a better understanding of their needs. To that end, we have agreed to acquire Gnip, a leading provider of social data and a long-standing Twitter data partner,” Messerschmidt wrote in the blog post.

What Gnip stands to gain is access to deeper and more selective data at Twitter. Chris Moody, Gnip’s chief executive, welcomed the acquisition in a blog post. “We’ll be able to support a broader set of cases across a diverse set of users including brands, universities, agencies, and developers big and small. Joining Twitter also provides us access to resources and infrastructure to scale to the next level and offer newproducts and solutions.”

For Twitter, getting Gnip in means having more direct control and the ability to monetize from the use of its own data. The relationship also allows Twitter to ‘sell’ its data to other companies without the use of a middleman. It will also grant Twitter more advertising and revenue streams.

Twitter bags SecondSync and Mesagraph

The microblogging site entrenched its lead in ‘second screen’ viewing with the purchase of two firms, UK-based SecondSync and France-based Mesagraph. Both social TV analytics firms have strong focus and relationships with the television industry in their home grounds while also having a cultivated and healthy relationship with other companies working in the social TV sphere.


These companies provide analytics to broadcasters and advertisers about how people engage with television putting out their comments on social media to programs as they are watched on social TV. Details of the deal have not be published by any of the companies.

Purchasing SecondSync was once again an act to quell rival Facebook’s advancement in the same area. SecondSync had earlier in January announced a partnership with Facebook. Had the deal gone through, SecondSync would be supplying analytic data to the social network. Twitter would have been left to play catch up which would make it lose its image as a champion of real-time conversations. The event would set it back by a few miles in the race for dominance of being ‘here and now’. Bagging SecondSync once again puts Twitter in the lead of real-time communication. Twitter has been hailed as the medium for instant reactions and conversations. This is also what gives Twitter a decisive advantage over competitors such as Facebook who has been trying to enter that space through the introduction of “trending topics”.

Confirming the acquisition, SecondSync said in a post “Twitter is the only place that hosts a real-time, public conversation about TV at scale. By joining Twitter, we will be able to help take that experience, in concert with the rest of the TV ecosystem, to the next level – particularly in markets outside the US.”

Bringing Mesagraph under its wing is also strategic for Twitter. Mesagraph helps users pull insights from tweets on specific topics through its web-based platform, Meaningly. The Mesagraph TV API then builds on the data ‘pulled’ and provides analytics based around live TV shows.


This expertise is very valuable to Twitter if it wants to stay in the race and more important to Twitter is the partnership Mesagraph has with French TV networks Canal+, France Télévisions, M6, TF1 and such whom the company has been long trying to target with its ad services and Twitter Amplify.

Twitter has been buying up pieces of their ecosystem that are either close to the customer or close to their revenue stream; some of its notable earlier buys include mobile advertising exchange MoPub, Android lockscreen app Cover, yet another social TV firm Bluefin Labs and real-time data company Locomatix.


Twitter is also known to have expanded its relationship with Kantar, the market analytics firm owned by WPP, a SecondSync investor. The newly acquired analytic tools will help improve Twitter’s offering to advertisers, allowing them to optimise and channelize what they are posting on their viewers’ timelines.

So what did Google buy?

Google engaged itself in a staring match with Facebook over Titan Aerospace. But Facebook was looking elsewhere also at the same time and shortly disclosed its purchase of U.K.-based Ascenta, a Titan Aerospace competitor. With Facebook gone, Titan Aerospace was all Google’s for an undisclosed sum.

Facebook’s offer to Titan Aerospace was $60 million, therefore it may be assumed that Google could have thrown more in to fasten itself to the drone maker. Ascenta and Titan Aerospace are leaders in high altitude drones that can bring to remote areas of the globe cheap Internet connectivity, bringing to the centre of Internet technology those have never been touched by telephones or mobile towers, much less the Internet. This is leading edge technology, promising yet unproven.

Google is looking to make its newest and most exciting acquisition yet work in many ways. The main goal is to find newer markets and potential for growth by connecting remote areas to the Internet and bringing them under Google’s scanner from which Google and its partners stand to profit. Titan Aerospace’s expertise will also play a crucial role in Project Loon, the balloon-based remote Internet delivery project that Google has been working hard on.


Another plus is that Titan Aerospace’s robots can supply high-quality real-time images for Google Maps. The robots can also be used to contribute to disaster relief and even give a lead on deforestation according to statements issued by Google. Titan is also expected to work with another Google acquisition, Makani, which is developing airborne wind turbines that it expects to generate electricity from winds high up in the atmosphere.

Google knows when its products are reaching their saturation points. So they diversify into new areas, or better still, create some. It’s still early in time, but atmospheric satellites could be the next thing in bringing Internet access to millions of people, as noted by a Google spokesperson. With Loon reasoning, acquiring Titan Aerospace is Google’s most transparent yet. Loon prototypes have demonstrated how they can globe-trot on a budget timeframe but Titan’s bots which can do altitudes of 65,000 ft., are sleek and solar powered and, can live for up to 5 years can do lots more.

The drones are more delivery efficient with respect to their ability to take the Internet remote. They also have markedly higher degree of control than the Loon and the ability to react/adjust to climatic changes.

Titan is working on two models of drones and claims the bots can help deliver data speeds of up to one gigabit a second which would be far higher than broadband speeds available down here on earth in most developed countries.



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Author:  buddingmanagers
Posted On:  Tuesday, 10 June, 2014 - 17:53

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