Google says Motorola deal was 'a success', plans more 'big bets'

Google's boss of buying and selling companies insists that the Motorola deal was a "success", despite taking a bath on the sale price.

Google's boss of buying and selling companies insists that the Motorola deal was a "success", despite taking a bath on the sale price.

Google sold Motorola Mobility to Lenovo for $2.91 billion late last month, having bought the phone manufacturer just two years ago for more than four times that amount.

But Don Harrison, Google's head of mergers and acquisitions, in an interview with Forbes, reckons the sums add up: "When you work through the math, you realise we spent between $2.5 billion and $3.5 billion for the patent assets."

As part of the Motorola deal, Google has also taken a stake in Lenovo. "If you want to compete in the (handset) space you do need to be all in," says Harrison. "We realised that Lenovo as a partner was all in, so that transaction made sense."

Harrison also describes how Google buys companies for three reasons: to absorb talent or technology; to add new elements to something they're already doing; or to snap up a company doing something the Big G isn't yet doing but wants to get involved in.

The recent purchase of smart thermostat company Nest falls into that third category. Home automation is "somewhat outside the core" of Google's business, says Harrison, "but we see a future where those things can work very well with our existing products and services."

And the Big G is thinking big for the future: "Larry (Page, Google's CEO) does want to be active in identifying areas where we can make big bets, where we can use moonshot thinking."

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