A SEC filing that Google submitted in December went public earlier this week, and there has been a lot of speculation about what was written in it. One key area was regarding the $20-30 billion in cash they said they are holding overseas (it is now up to $34.5 billion as of March). In the letter, Google specified that the money is set aside for the acquisition of foreign companies and technology rights, currently owned by companies outside the US. They did not give any timetable for the purchases, or indicate what companies or technologies may be their targets.
Google has been purchasing companies for many years to help remain dominant, but $30 would allow for a significant number of purchases. Over the last decade, Google spent about $27 billion on purchases and acquisitions, with their largest acquisition to date being for Motorola Mobility, which cost them $12.4 billion. Assuming Google doesn’t go for any larger purchases, this could indicate that Google will be making dozens of smaller purchases from around the world.
Whenever this much money is on the table, it has the potential to really shake up the IT world. In addition, any purchases they make will help show marketers and others what direction Google is looking to take. An example of this is looking at the Yahoo purchases, which have been largely focused on boosting their mobile presence.
In addition to purchasing foreign companies, Google will likely use some of the money to buy office space, data centers, and other infrastructure outside of the US. Whatever Google does with this large cash reserve, it will be important for all of us to keep a close eye on it given how much influence Google has on the technology, marketing and advertising industries.