When The Washington Post speaks, Google can't be silent.
Without mentioning Google's pending acquisition of ITA Software, Don Harrison, Google's deputy general counsel, wrote a stern defense of Google's acquisition bent in the Google Public Policy Blog.
The Google blog post came a day after a Washington Post columnist questioned whether Google should be allowed "to buy its way into new markets and new technologies, particularly when the firms being bought already have a dominant position in their respective market niches."
Washington Post business columnist Steven Pearlstein asked whether it's "time to loosen Google's grip" and said he has "a problem" when Google acquires companies that "already have a dominant position in their respective market niches."
Pearlstein added: "That was certainly the case with the company's recent acquisitions of You Tube, DoubleClick and AdMob. It is the case with Google's proposed $700 million acquisition of ITA Software, the leading provider of software used in online searches for airline flights, which is currently under review by the Justice Department. And it surely would have been the case with Groupon, the local Web advertising company, had the hot startup decided last month to accept Google's reported eye-popping $6 billion offer."
When inside-the-beltway opinion-molders like Pearlstein hold forth, Google can't hold back.
Harrison of Google didn't mention ITA Software or other pending Google acquisitions, but argued that current antitrust law defends competition and that "acquisitions are typically good for consumers and the economy."
Harrison said: "Our 2004 acquisition of Keyhole led to Google Earth, which for the first time provided free satellite imagery for consumers. Our 2005 acquisition of a small company called Android -- and our investment in the technology that Andy Rubin was developing -- later led to the creation of the Android mobile operating system, which has injected more competition and openness into the smartphone space. For startups, getting acquired is often the path to success (especially given the difficult IPO market), so stopping large companies from making acquisitions would only deprive startups of another potential bidder and investors of a potential return on their invested capital. You can’t be both pro-economic growth and anti-acquisitions."
Again, Harrison didn't mention ITA Software, which is the market leader in providing airfare shopping and pricing data to clients, including airline websites, online travel agencies, metasearch websites and corporate booking tools. But, reading between the lines, he defended Google's proposed ITA Software acquisition and other mergers of that ilk.
"Courts and regulators recognize efficiencies in mergers into new spaces," Harrison wrote. "They also have approved many deals where the leader in one category acquired the leader in a separate category. That includes Oracle’s acquisition of Siebel, Amazon’s acquisition of Audible, and Adobe’s acquisition of Macromedia. Each company was #1 in its respective field, and each merger was approved."
Google obviously hopes that Department of Justice regulators, when they complete their review of the Google-ITA Software deal, won't be following Pearlstein's line of thinking and signing onto a stop-Google movement.