Google CEO sees one small acquisition a month

PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - Google Inc Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said acquisitions are “turned on again” at the Internet company and expects to do one small deal a month instead of hiring new staff.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt talks to a reporter at the Sun Valley Inn in Sun Valley, Idaho July 9, 2009. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Schmidt also reiterated his view that the worst of the global recession is over, seeing improvement both inside and outside the United States.

“It’s clear that the worst is behind us,” Schmidt told Reuters Television in an interview on Wednesday, ahead of delivering a speech on green technology on the fringes of the G20 summit in Pittsburgh.

“What we see at Google is some level of improvement and what is more important is we see it not just in the United States but outside the United States,” he said.

Schmidt also said acquisition activity was returning to normal at his company. Google has historically maintained a steady pace of acquiring small, privately held companies, but its deal machine took a breather earlier this year when Schmidt said that prices were too high for his liking.

In August, Google said it would acquire video software maker On2 Technologies for $106.5 million -- its first acquisition of a public company

“Acquisitions are turned on again at Google and we are doing our normal maneuvers, which is small companies. My estimate would be one-a-month acquisitions and these are largely in lieu of hiring,” Schmidt said.

“There may be larger acquisitions, but they really are unpredictable,” Schmidt said.

Google, the world’s No. 1 Web search company, has seen revenue growth slow during the recession, although its paid search advertising business has held up better than other forms of advertising-based online businesses.

Last week, Google stepped up its efforts to challenge Yahoo Inc in the display advertising market with the introduction of its new DoubleClick ad exchange.

Schmidt said the exchange “could be a very significant part of our revenue over some number of years because ad exchanges, when they are running, grow very, very quickly.”

He also said recent criticisms by the U.S. Justice Department regarding Google’s plan to scan copyrighted books “seemed quite reasonable.”

If there are a “few minor changes” to be made to Google’s settlement with groups representing authors and publishers, Schmidt said, “that’s a pretty good thing to do.”

“I don’t think we will make significant changes to the deal.”

Reporting by Mark Egan, writing by Tiffany Wu and Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Steve Orlofsky