As I pointed out in my Top Web Predictions for 2006 post, I think the number of high-profile acquisitions will probably slow down in 2006.
I could be totally wrong, but I could see the USA and global economy slowing down, as well as the realization that some of these companies being acquired aren’t really generating a ton of cash. That being said, I think it’d be fun to give my thoughts on what companies are likely acquisition targets in 2006. I’ll include some guesses at likely buyers for fun as well.
- Digg – The hot social news site is profitable from Adsense revenue and has had recent venture capital funding. While VC’s do build long term businesses, they do like a return on investment. Another possible acquisition target in this space would be Reddit. Likely buyers: CNET, Yahoo, IAC, News Corp, New York Times.
- Netflix – Yes, they’re pretty big and public already, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be acquired. Netflix has a strong web presence, is growing well, and would be a nice entertainment property as well as a potential large future player in the video on demand world. Likely buyers: Yahoo, Apple, Amazon.
- Newsgator – As the Scobelizer has pointed out already, Newsgator is a leader in the RSS world and has it’s bases covered. A company that wants to gain a stronger foothold in the RSS feedreader would have to look at them. Plus, it’s a crowded space there, something needs to happen. Likely buyers: Microsoft, News Corp, AOL.
- Riya – Still in beta, but a very promising face recognition technology for tagging and finding photos. There were a ton of rumors that Google had acquired them which proved untrue, but Scoble admitted in his blog that Microsoft was in talks with them but the price was too high, meaning someone else had bid more than Microsoft was willing to pay. Perhaps Riya didn’t want to get snatched up so soon, but obviously means there is some serious interest there. Likely buyers: Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, CNET.
- Feedburner – They are the leader in RSS feed analytics, have an ad network going, and are innovating well with features like their FeedFlare. They’d be a good target for a big player that wants to get more in the feed analytics/monetization space, or a good acquisition for a larger web analytics company. Another company that could be acquired in this space is Pheedo. Likely buyers: Google, Yahoo, WebsideStory, Webtrends, Omniture, IAC.
- YouTube – Kind of like the Flickr for videos, it’s blowing up fast and is being used heavily by the MySpace/Facebook userbase. It’s probably got some sizeable bandwidth/server costs that it could use some help with. Another potential acquisition in this space is Grouper. Likely buyers: Yahoo, News Corp/Myspace, CNET.
- Become.com – A slick shopping comparison and research site. Shopping comparison sites were hot this year as three were purchased around the $500 million range. Likely buyers: IAC, News Corp, Amazon.
- Technorati – Blogs just don’t stop growing, and Technorati has had it’s problems but had continually improved. Somebody will want to get more involved with blog search and they’ll be a likely target. Likely buyers: Yahoo, CNET, IAC.
- Facebook – Social networking for college students only, Facebook has grown at a fast and furious pace, and they get a huge number of new freshmen each year to add as their userbase. Someone will see them being a value like Myspace, altghought not as valuable. Other possibilities include Tagworld.com and Tagged.com. Likely Buyers: IAC, News Corp, CNET.
- Automattic – The creators of the hottest blogging platform WordPress have formed a company out of the business and added a hosted platform in WordPress.com. Like Google and Blogger, it’s a platform someone will want. Another possibility would be Six Apart who runs Typepad. Likely buyers: Yahoo, Microsoft, IAC, News Corp, AOL, eBay, some random company.
- A Web Analytics Company – This is a general prediction because there are too many likely targets. But Google’s play into web analytics can’t go unmatched from their big competitors out there, so another web analytics company will get acquired. Possible companies include WebsideStory, Webtrends, Omniture, Clicktracks, Coremetrics, MeasureMap, Mint, and many more. Likely buyers: Yahoo, Microsoft, Amazon, eBay, IAC.
- Ad Network Consolidation – In both the display and text ad network space there are numerous players, and lots of money is involved. Fastclick was acquired by Valueclick this past year, and we could see more ad networks either rolling up into each other, or just getting acquired by larger companies who want in the space.