The day’s highlight so far was undoubtedly a panel discussion featuring reps from Google (Anil Hansjee, head of European Corporate Development), Yahoo (Jonathan Wolf, Director of Corporate Development) and VCs from Acacia Capital (Ajay Chowdhury) and Index Ventures (Ben Holmes).
The first and arguably most interesting question was ‘Is there any other options for start ups than being bought by Yahoo and Google?’
Well there’s good news if you are beavering away on that killer social networking site or jaw-droopingly good mobile phone applications. Most of the panel agreed that while Yahoo and Google would grab the headlines with big purchases, a host of other players might be shelling out out smaller sums for innovative tech based businesses.
As you’d expect Anil from Google chose to walk the tightrope in stressing both Google’s commitment to internet start up as well as opportunities for entrepreneurs to go their own way.
‘I think we have done 30 deals in last few years. We can’t innovate on all angles, so we need to partner or buy companies to deliver our goals. The positive thing for entrepreneurs is that there is the Google exit opportunity.
There is scope for entrepreneurs to build their own companies, but the fact they can achieve their own goals much faster by partnering with us is not a bad thing. Besides in Europe there’s the IPO alternative – more so than in US. Skye, for example, could have carried on by themselves.
We might have bought YouTube, but we are not looking for large community sites. Not into Bebos, MySpace and YouTube look likes.
Anil from Acacia thinks that some of the old media companies might give Google and Yahoo a run for their money.
‘Traditional media companies have to begun to move into this space e.g. Murdoch My Space. They are going to be very acquisitive too. Media companies are dying, they need technology ideas. The AOL Time Warner merger might have been a disaster but it was founded on good principles.Jonathan from Yahoo thinks there will be more competition for good media assets.
‘It is true that there was a period of time when no one was interested in the internet. Then last year there was a dramatic change with large amounts of adverting moving online.
I think what we might see is less money from the mega companies and more businesses paying smaller sized prices.