SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google is becoming more secretive about its acquisitions as the Internet company hunts for promising innovations and engineering talent to help shape the future of technology.
The subtle change surfaced this week in Google's 2013 annual report. Google Inc. didn't quantify the total number of deals that it closed last year in the regulatory filing, marking the first time that the Mountain View, Calif., company has withheld that detail since going public in 2004.
Instead of specifying the total number of acquisitions during 2013, Google only said it spent a combined $489 million on all deals besides its purchase of online mapping service Waze. The Waze deal was so large that government regulations prompted Google to break out the $969 million price paid for that acquisition.
While Google has always revealed the prices that it has paid in big acquisitions like Waze, the company regularly provided a running tally of how many smaller deals that it had been closing.
For instance, in its annual report covering 2012, Google disclosed that it bought Motorola Mobility for $12.4 billion and paid an additional $1.17 billion to complete 52 other deals. In 2011, Google listed a total of 79 deals costing a combined $2 billion.
Google didn't respond to requests seeking an explanation for the change in the way it discloses its acquisitions.
The switch probably was motivated for competitive reasons, said George Geis, a UCLA business professor who studies mergers and acquisitions. He suspects Google might have been worried that rivals, investment bankers and other outsiders were parsing the total number of deals in an attempt to figure out how much the company has been paying for some of its acquisitions.
"Google probably asked itself, 'Is that number (of total deals) something that we really need to be putting out there just as we are getting more active in acquisitions?'" Geis said. "I don't think there is anything particularly nefarious about it."