The rumor mills are turning at a feverish pace.
Various sources are predicting that Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) is about to hook up with eBay's (Nasdaq: EBAY ) Skype. And Google's M&A appetite may not stop there. Shares of Expedia (Nasdaq: EXPE ) soared 10% yesterday, after an analyst with Susquehanna alluded to rumors that Big G was readying a bid for the travel portal.
So bolt yourself to the floor, because a cash-rich Google may be coming for you next.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out why Wall Street hearsay has turned to Google's acquisitive pursuits. The company's move to bow out of the spectrum bidding war frees up billions in greenbacks that would otherwise have been spoken for. The potential Microhoo pairing is fodder for gossipers to dream up retaliatory responses on Google's behalf.
Gee, was I the only one who noticed how long it took for Google to swallow DoubleClick? Now that Google is even bigger, could it clear the higher regulatory hurdles to seal many of these concocted megadeals?
I'll concede that Google pairing up with Skype makes perfect sense. Google has more to gain from a Skype deal than eBay ever did. Google has taken baby steps into the voice chat space, and taking the fast-growing yet poorly monetized Skype off eBay's hands would probably result in cheers from the Google and eBay shareholder camps.
On the other hand, I don't put a lot of weight behind the pursuit of Expedia. I may have suggested last month that Expedia would look good on the arm of another search engine star, but that is mostly because of the attraction of Expedia's Web 2.0 properties like TripAdvisor.com.
As the paid-search leader, Google relies on travel portals like Priceline (Nasdaq: PCLN ) , Travelocity, and Orbitz Worldwide (NYSE: OWW ) to bid for placement on its travel-related search results. Things could get hairy if Google snaps up Expedia. Sleeping with the enemy is one thing. Paying for its fare and making a rival stronger in the process, is another.
I can see Google bottom-fishing for a vacation deal publisher like Travelzoo (Nasdaq: TZOO ) , since it dovetails nicely with Google's growing pool of travel advertisers. Getting into the actual travel portal business through a site like Expedia doesn't make a whole lot of sense with what it stands to lose.
Still, something tells me that this is only the beginning. You're likely to see more names attached to Google in the coming weeks and months. Then again, it's an easy rumor to start and a sexy one to circulate. Don't believe any of them.