Above is a map of the acquisitions and investments Google has made since 2001. Some of the companies you may have never heard of before, or since. (Note: Both images in this article can be clicked to enlarge)
One company of note on the list is AOL. In 2005, as AOL was on a steady free fall of subscriber losses for their Internet access services, Google invested $1 billion. AOL has had one investment after another to stay alive, and is currently owned by Time Warner. The AOL investment appears to have been a total loss.
On March 12, 2009 Tim Armstrong, who quit as Google Senior Vice President, was named Chairman and CEO of AOL, LLC. On May 28, 2009, Time Warner decided to cease operations with AOL, and to spin it off as an independent company once Google’s shares cease at the end of the fiscal year.
AOL took Google’s money, and ran with it as it has with so many other investments over the years to stay alive. Google now has nothing to show for their $1 billion investment. At the time, it seems, the AOL investment may have just been an anti-Microsoft move, and not a smart business move. Google has learned from this bad experience, at least we think so.
As for Microsoft, they’ve invested in Apple, before the big iPod boom, and Facebook, just as their growth exploded.