Google is taking over the world! No? Well, sort of.  Google has been acquiring, on average, more than one company a week since 2010.  Incredible right?  In the past two months, the push has been for several big robotics companies, artificial intelligence companies, and home automation companies (Nest).  So what exactly are they doing?

Well, at this point, they are keeping pretty tight lipped.  But, it doesn’t look like they are buying them to rip them apart.  On the contrary, it looks like they are buying these companies, in some respect, to stay true to their stated mission to “organize the world’s information”.  Take the Nest acquisition for example.  So far, Google is extremely connected to human behavior behind the screen.  That is the value that Google sells its customers AKA advertisers.  They know what we search for online, what we’re talking about, and can then target us with ads based on our online behavior.  With Nest, we’re taking human behavior tracking to a whole new level –off the screen. 

Nest, over time, uses your past behaviors and its sensors to train itself according to your comings and goings.  Google has not been able to track our behaviors when we’re not directly interacting with a screen; this will now change with Nest.   As far as privacy goes, and sharing customer data with Google, the company reportedly said it’s standing by its existing privacy policy, which “clearly limits the use of customer information to providing and improving Nest’s products and services.”  So, we’ll see if that stands true.

We have to remember though that they also use our anonymized email conversations and wonder if that same anonymized user data would be used here.  Even that would give Google incredible new insights into our behavior in our everyday lives.

But this isn’t just about Nest here.  Let’s talk robots.  Over 8 companies in 2 months.  What is the plan?  My theory, when thinking of the Nest acquisition and also the dive into autonomous cars in the last few years and then Waze and now robotics, is all about human behavior and the next big thing.   We could now be assessed online, in our cars, and at home.  The next step?  Robotics.  Building technology to meet the needs that we have/will have in response to all the data that they are collecting.  The next big thing.   Of course, there is that idea of the Terminator lurking in the back of my head –but I’m attempting to push that to the side for now.  It seems like Google is trying to create the future.

Gaining More Than the Company

Google has been extremely smart here with their selections.  They aren’t just choosing the company they are buying –they’re choosing the brains behind the ideas as well.  With these acquisitions they are gaining the visions and talent of those like: Tony Faddell CEO and co-founder of Nest.  Faddell was a former lead at Apple, best known for designing the iPod.  Then there is fellow Apple alum and Nest co-founder Matt Rogers on the team as well.  As far as robotics go, Google is piecing together a dream team here.  The robot makers that they have acquired so far all have a variety of strengths.  Schaft, for example, is developing a rescue humanoid with great balance and strong limbs (they build incredible legs),  Meka and Redwood Robotics are great for graspers and robotic arms, and Bot and Dolly build robotic camera systems (used to film the movie “Gravity”).  With Boston Dynamics they gain founder Marc Raibert and his robotic monster hound BigDog as well as its new 2 legged human lookalike PETMAN.  The list goes on and on.

I’m sure it will be years until we really see a bigger piece of the grand scheme here.  But, what are your thoughts?  What are your theories about Google’s master plan with all of these companies, and what do you think they’re capable of?