Think about it.
(NASDAQ:MSFT)is paying nearly twice that amount for aQuantive (NASDAQ:AQNT).
(NASDAQ:WPPGY), an advertising behemoth with $11.7 billion in revenues last year, isn't turning any heads with its proposed buyout of 24/7 Real Media (NASDAQ:TFSM).
- Smaller digital-marketing deals by Yahoo!
(NASDAQ:YHOO)and AOL seem to be forgone conclusions.
Yes, Google is the top dog in paid search, but it's also just one slice of the ad-mix pie. WPP had a thicker top line than the $10.6 billion Google generated last year. Yes, Google posted the fatter profit and commands the larger market cap, but you can't confuse competition with a popularity contest.
Microsoft argued that if Google outbid Mr. Softy for DoubleClick, it would create an anti-competitive juggernaut, but that was just sour grapes. Besides, Microsoft isn't moping about it anymore after agreeing to spend $6 billion to nab aQuantive. It knows that if Google and DoubleClick are too big a union by FTC standards, Microsoft itself may be put under the microscope for pursuing the larger and more successful aQuantive online-sponsorship enabler.
It would be a shock to see the regulatory forces block Google's deal for DoubleClick at this point. This appears to be a routine warning shot. If Google hears it, it will know that it should slow down before it eyes another major purchase. It may also signal to Microsoft and Yahoo! that those two giants will have a bumpy road ahead if they decide to hook up down the road.
Denying Google its right to DoubleClick won't be like taking Samson to a Supercuts. Google will still be powerful. The one thing that denying the deal would do is serve as the remedy to the acquisitive fever that has been contagious in the dot-com world in recent months.
Fear the cure, investors.
aQuantive was recommended to Rule Breakers subscribers five months ago at less than half of its ultimate buyout price. If you want to learn why it made the cut -- and read up on other potential growth stock winners -- sign up for a 30-day trial subscription offer today.
Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Yahoo! is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz doesn't have a problem with the FTC, though he believes that online advertising is just one part of the larger promotional pie. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.