Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Google Acquires AdMob for $750 Million in Stock (Plus the Press Release and Video With CEO)

Google has acquired AdMob for $750 million, a huge price for an innovative start-up that has pioneered online ads on mobile and now smart phones.

BoomTown visited AdMob last fall and posted about how it was likely to eventually be acquired by…Google (GOOG)!

(Google has provided a primer on the sale, which you can read about here.)

The move is a major one for Google, which has been pushing hard into the mobile advertising space as it seeks to grow its already considerable Web search business. AdMob is arguably the most innovative and fastest out of the gate in the nascent arena.

As I wrote previously about the company’s prospects:

While there are very few bright spots to look at in the start-up space in Silicon Valley these days, especially those relying on online advertising, the San Mateo, Calif.-based AdMob is at least slightly shiny.

The mobile advertising marketplace, backed by Sequoia Capital and Accel Partners, just got a big slug of funding–almost $16 million–to keep pushing to get ads on mobile phones, which has gotten a huge boost from the popularity of the iPhone.

The massive data usage by users of the popular mobile device by Apple (AAPL) has clearly turbocharged AdMob’s prospects, which were already on the rise. Compared to a year ago, the company said, the number of ads it served more than tripled the number of ads served on a monthly basis to 4.5 billion.

Obviously, the better quality and more actionable nature of ads on improved screens is the reason for the shift, which should accelerate as more smartphones like Google’s G1 and the newest Blackberry Storm from RIM (RIMM) become more popular too.

Most importantly, even now, AdMob is cash flow-positive, which is not a bad thing to be in the current econalypse. It also has a cushion of cash–AdMob had previously garnered $15 million in funding from Sequoia and Accel.

It’s not all sunshine and daisies, of course, since the ad market in general is headed for a deep slump, and new markets are not going to grow as quickly, as marketers pull back from spending.

But, when the economy turns, the mobile advertising market is clearly going to be a fast-growing arena, with big players like Google, Yahoo (YHOO), Nokia (NOK) and Microsoft (MSFT) as AdMob competitors (or potential acquirers, especially Google).

With the money it just raised, AdMob said it would be getting ready for that race, and also use it to expand internationally.

Here’s a video interview with Omar Hamoui, founder and CEO of AdMob, on all this and more, as well as a tour of company’s offices:

And, here’s the press release:

Google to Acquire AdMob

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire AdMob, a mobile display ad technology provider, for $750 million in stock. This acquisition will enhance Google’s existing expertise and technology in mobile advertising, while also giving advertisers and publishers more choice in this growing new area.

“Mobile advertising has enormous potential as a marketing medium and while this industry is still in the early stages of development, AdMob has already made exceptional progress in a very short time,” said Susan Wojcicki, Vice President of Product Management at Google. “AdMob is the quintessential Silicon Valley startup–generating impressive year on year revenue growth–and we’re excited to welcome this talented team to Google.”

“I think people underestimate how important ads have been to funding the development of innovative content on the Internet. Our goal all along at AdMob has been to make it possible for developers and publishers to bring their products and ideas to mobile with the same business model,” said Omar Hamoui, Founder and CEO of AdMob. “We’re proud of the progress we’ve made towards accomplishing this goal, and joining Google will only accelerate this process, ultimately leading to very real benefits for end users around the world. As publishers and developers generate more revenue from their mobile products, they will invest more, and their mobile offerings will become richer, more creative and more robust.”

The deal will help Google in its efforts to develop more effective tools for creating, serving and analyzing emerging mobile ads formats. As this ecosystem continues to grow, the company expects these new marketing media to offer significant benefits:

Advertisers will be better able to engage mobile users with AdMob’s ad formats

Publishers and developers will be able to monetize their content more effectively, which has benefits for the wider mobile ecosystem

Users will see more relevant ads and ultimately get access to more ad-supported content and applications – improving their mobile experience

“Attracting the world’s top engineering talent and people with entrepreneurial vision to Google has always been crucial to our success. AdMob’s proven track record in innovating at speed will help maintain that culture–which is why we are so excited to be working with them,” added Vic Gundotra, Vice President of Engineering at Google.

Both companies have approved the transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions.

Please see this disclosure related to me and Google.