15. Juni 2012

Google Buys Meebo

News is out, that Google will buy Web Instant Messenger company Meebo for 100 M$. This is said to be an Acq-hire by which Google buys a team of engineers and possibly other talent. Most Meebo services will be shut down quickly. Another indication, that this transacton is about talent.

BUT: how in hell can this be about talent? Meebo has less than 200 employees. This makes more than US$ 500,000 for every employee, probably closer to $ 1,000,000 for each tech person and some very good business developers. That's a big number. How much does it take to hire good engineers. It's definitely not cheap. I'd count 150,000 to hire top devs, another 150 k each to forge a team. Of course, it takes 3 years to forge world class teams. During that time they cost 500 k salary. But during the forging, they deliver 3 years worth of stuff. The value creation subtraced, it costs no more than 150 k. That's a total of 300 k. But 1000 k, no way. Ok, the time factor. Acq-hire delivers quickly. But Google should have the top-engineering-team-pipe fully loaded and should be able to build enough teams.

So, either I am completely off with my price tags or there is somehing else going on. I built very good teams, which were on their way to world class, if they just had more time. I know the cost.

Maybe it's not only about the talent. Maybe Meebo has patents. What was there initial technology? Web based IM. Maybe there are Web IM patents. Who has a big chat feature on it's social network? could that be Google's biggest competitor?

I admit, that I do not know about any related patents (note: do research), but there must be more, than 100 top engineers for $ 100,000,000.

_happy_webchatting()

Update: a quick USPTO research returns several patent applications around the web chat topic.

Here are Meebo's patent applications. It looks like they started patenting late, but with force. As if someone prepared for a takeover.
  1. 20070224978 Method And System For Event Polling
  2. 20080010344 METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR EMBEDDED PERSONALIZED COMMUNICATION
  3. 20080034040 METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR EMBEDDED GROUP COMMUNICATION
  4. 20080126484 METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR DETERMINING AND SHARING A USER'S WEB PRESENCE
  5. 20090307082 SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR WEB ADVERTISEMENT
  6. 20090307089 METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR SHARING ADVERTISEMENTS IN A CHAT ENVIRONMENT
  7. 20090307325 SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR SHARING CONTENT IN AN INSTANT MESSAGING APPLICATION
  8. 20100070899 TECHNIQUES FOR SHARING CONTENT ON A WEB PAGE
  9. 20100107088 PROVISIONING INSTANT COMMUNICATIONS FOR A COMMUNITY OF USERS
  10. 20100306039 TECHNIQUES FOR CUSTOMIZED DELIVERY OF ADVERTISEMENTS
  11. 20100306066 TECHNIQUES FOR DISPLAYING AN ADVERTISEMENT ACROSS MULTIPLE PAGES
No. 1 "Method And System For Event Polling" sounds interesting. I did not read the full application, but it sounds like any HTTP polling/long-polling as used in web chats  would be affected (see Comet, BOSH). I would assume, that there is prior art, though. On the other hand, they are not stupid (remember: "world class team"). Maybe they found a twist to make that patent work.

No. 3 "...EMBEDDED GROUP COMMUNICATION" basically claims the chat on a web page.

No. 6 "...ADVERTISEMENTS IN A CHAT ENVIRONMENT" sounds interesting, if you want to monetise the chat feature (in the stupid ad'y way).

If these patents are granted, then Google may be able to extract $ 100 M from Facebook, the largest web chat with 1 billion users. That would be 10 ct. per user similar to the MPEG-LA licensing of the video.

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