Android (2005) – The Android name might be well-known now, but in 2005 it was a 22-month-old startup that nobody knew anything about. Part of that was intentional, as co-founder Andy Rubin kept a tight lid on the company's mission. Today, it's the core of Google's mobile operating system, powering over 300 million smart phones and tablets. Not bad for a deal that was estimated to cost Google just $50 million.
Applied Semantics (2003) – While the purchase of this then- 45-person large business didn't sound sexy at the time (face it, whose socks are knocked off by a company known for its semantic text processing technology?), it's arguably the best purchase Google ever made. The $102 million price tag might have seemed steep at the time, but it proved to be a drop in the bucket once the Applied Semantics team built AdSense — the paid search advertising platform that today makes up the majority of Google's revenues.
"Next step in the evolution of the Internet"
YouTube (2006) – The $1.65 billion dollar purchase of YouTube in 2006 caught the world's eye, but the company employed just 67 people at the time. YouTube was an up and coming star in those days, but a lot of critics had questioned its staying power, noting looming copyright infringement suits. Then-CEO Eric Schmidt was so bullish on the company that he called it "the next step in the evolution of the Internet" — and fought off competing bids from Microsoft, Yahoo and News Corp. to lure the company into the fold.
Samantha Sin | AFP | Getty Images
Zagat (2011) – After a long string of tech acquisitions, Google threw everyone a curve in September 2011, announcing plans to acquire this popular review service. The $151 million purchase (which followed a failed attempt to buy Yelp) was meant to help shore up Google's burgeoning local service, adding another tool for people to find quality local...