When Google CEO Eric Schmidt mentioned a few weeks ago that the M&A spigot is now back on at the search giant, he wasn’t talking about a trickle. Today’s announced deal to by mobile ad startup AdMob for $750 million is Google’s largest acquisition since its $3.1 billion purchase of DoubleClick in March, 2008, and its third-largest ever after the $1.65 billion YouTube acquisition in 2006.
Why such a big bet? Because Google is gunning hard to dominate mobile Web advertising and AdMob has an early foothold in the display side. By focusing on the needs of mobile app developers, AdMob has “built what is approaching a $100 million business in three years,” says Jim Goetz, the partner at Sequoia Capital who sits on AdMob’s board, referring to the annualized revenue run-rate of the company. Since AdMob splits its revenues 60/40 with publishers, that implies AdMob is on course to see $40 million of that $100 million gross. The company is also cash-flow positive, with 140 employees.