Set the entrepreneur loose, allow him to develop the application you want, and reel him back in, along with the technology for a sweet cash and/or stock deal. It seems Google's pattern lately, though more than anything the trend hearkens back to Eric Schmidt's comment during an earnings call that the Mountain View, Calif., company would make at least one small acquisition monthly during the coming year.
Google acquired reMail Wednesday. The iPhone application provides full-text search of Gmail and IMAP email accounts. And while the terms of the deal were not disclosed, some believe Google will kill the technology and build pieces of it into its Nexus One mobile phone or Android platform.
People have already noticed that the application, which sorts contacts by priority sending them to the top of the list, has vanished from the iPhone store.
ReMail CEO Gabor Cselle announced the acquisition news on his blog, but as ReadWriteWeb points out, there's an interesting behind-the-scenes story. While Y Combinator funded the startup, Cselle was a former Gmail intern and received advice from Paul Buchheit, the creator and lead developer for Gmail.
Cselle also worked as a Google software engineer between April 2004 and October 2004, and then again between October 2006 and March 2007, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Last week we learned that Google acquired Aardvark, founded in 2007 by engineers and entrepreneurs from Google, Yahoo, and other major Silicon Valley tech companies. Aardvark's technology lets you ask a questions and then routes the query to those in your social network most likely to know the answer.
Some believe the move by Google to gobble up search technologies will keep the innovations out of competitors' hands, such as Apple and now MicroHoo, the combined search business of Microsoft and Yahoo. The two companies this morning announced they would move forward in making Bing Yahoo's search engine after receiving regulatory approval from both the United States and European Union.
And while not all startups acquired by Google were founded by ex-employees of the company, it's interesting to note the most recent that were. Since these entrepreneurs have worked at other companies, they not only know Google's technology, but its competitors' as well.