Google acquires traffic info start-up Zipdash
Trolling through the 2004 annual report that Google filed today, we notice that the search company has a new subsidiary, Zipdash Inc. As far as we can tell, this is a previously undisclosed acquisition. What is more, it apparently happened fairly recently, since the Palo Alto company was not listed as a subsidiary when Google filed to go public last summer. Also, the New York Times profiled the company in March 2004 and made no mention of Google. We've asked Google for more information, but have not heard back yet. So what does Zipdash do (or did, if they've been wholly swallowed by Google)? According to the company's web site, it "tackles highway congestion by providing individuals with real-time, accurate traffic information." Some of the technology is/was intended to allow mobile phone users to get real-time traffic info using the GPS in their phones. Here's another story. And here's an example of how the technology looks on the Web, which we found on the Web site of a blogger who happens to work at Google. This looks somewhat similar to a feature that Yahoo recently started offering.
Also, we see that Google lists another new subsidiary named Where2 LLC. Not much info on this company on the Web or Nexis. Loyal readers who have any info, feel free to chime in.
UPDATE: A Google spokesman got back to us to confirm both acquisitions, which he said were made because of the companies' "talented engineers and great technology.'' He declined to comment further.
UPDATE2: A couple of people have told us that Where2 was a mapping company. Also, people always like to know the price of these deals (ie: who got rich). Google won't say. But there are clues in Google's annual report, including the fact that all four of Google's acquisitions (these two companies and the previously reported Picasa and Keyhole deals) cost the company $56 million ö $22 million in cash and the rest in stock and options. There's also a breakdown on page 17 of how much stock was issued for each deal, but the companies are not named in that list.
UPDATE3: A wise observer has suggested that the Zipdash team was responsible for some of the technology behind Google Maps. Makes sense. The interfaces are similar. But Google's maps interface is far better because it uses the now-widely discussed Ajax technologies to speed up the user experience, where the Zipdash product did not. You can see this when you pan the two maps left or right. Google's map pans cleanly without having to refresh the web page. Zipdash's does not.