Tech m & a: google goes social and groupon goes shopping

Google’s Big Month
It has been a very busy month for Google (GOOG) as it has a runaway hit in Google+ with more than 20 million users in just the first three weeks. The team at Mountain View are quickly acquiring complementary technology to boost the social network even further, having purchased two companies this week in Fridge and PittPatt.

Google is moving very fast with Google + and the service is seeing significant growth daily. A point to remember is that during the early stages of this service, Google is only allowing individuals to participate. Many small and large businesses are eagerly awaiting the launch of a Google+ business profile service. The Facebook Fan Page is such a success, it seems likely that when available this will boost Google+ growth even faster.

Google Bolsters Its Circles Concept
Google purchased social networking site Fridge this week. Fridge offers “simple personal networks that anyone can instantly create to share photos, messages and events with specific friends and groups,” according to its website.

Launched in August of 2010, Fridge has 40,000 monthly unique visitors who share videos, pictures, messages, and events with their groups. Fridge should fit in well with Google+’s circles concept. The eventual thinking is that groups will be built around users’ interests, rather than one-to-one connections, enabling people to connect with others outside of their normal social sphere.

Apparently the Fridge team will work for Google out of their existing New York offices until relocated to Google’s head offices in California.

Deal Deets: Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Google Makes a Controversial Move Further Into Facial Recognition
This week Google announced its purchase of Pittsburgh Pattern Recognition, or PittPatt, a technology that could be used to automatically tag people in photos and videos. PittPatt developed a facial recognition technology that matches people in photos and videos. Google could use PittPatt’s technology to enhance YouTube, Images, and possibly Google+.

The company said:

Joining Google is the next thrilling step in a journey that began with research at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute in the 1990s and continued with the launching of Pittsburgh Pattern Recognition (PittPatt) in 2004. We’ve worked hard to advance the research and technology in many important ways and have seen our technology come to life in some very interesting products. At Google, computer vision technology is already at the core of many existing products (such as Image Search, YouTube, Picasa, and Goggles), so it’s a natural fit to join Google and bring the benefits of our research and technology to a wider audience. We will continue to tap the potential of computer vision in applications that range from simple photo organization to complex video and mobile applications.

According to Google, “The Pittsburgh Pattern Recognition team has developed innovative technology in the area of pattern recognition and computer vision. We think their research and technology can benefit our users in many ways, and we look forward to working with them.”

This is not entirely in line with comments made by Google in March of this year when it denied plans for a dedicated facial recognition application even though it was believed to already have the means to do so.

“As we’ve said for more than a year, we will not add facial recognition to Goggles unless we have strong privacy protections in place,” a spokesman told PCMag in March.



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Tech m & a: google goes social and groupon goes shopping