Why Google should acquire Tesla The Term Sheet Fortune’s deals Term Sheet

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Why Google should acquire

March 3, 2014: 8:45 AM ET

It build its own driverless electric car and ahead of the competition for years to

By Mike Kwatinetz

FORTUNE   When Facebook (FB ) acquired last week for $19 billion. it set apart from earlier technology leaders like (AAPL ) and Microsoft (MSFT ). has decided that it wants to own the space now, as well as in the and is willing to pay an ostensibly high to ensure owning rising who may one day challenge them. By contrast, and Microsoft believed they catch up and surpass new entrants were both often, but not correct) and therefore rarely a premium for acquisitions. We will to this theme in a future post by speculating who Microsoft buy to help ensure more over its domain going


For now, WhatsApp’s acquisition led me to about Google’s next Since Google (GOOG ) has control over its core search, one MA strategy is to expand new areas of opportunity rather to acquire next-generation competitors (as aren’t any). What offers a large enough to tempt Google? Autos. The 2013 auto market about $2 trillion, enough to Google’s interest.

But Google need to leapfrog existing technology to have an advantage entrenched competition. Technology has to the point where this is

After years of only improvements, the car industry is approaching a of fundamental change. Over the few decades, cars appear to become more autonomous and battery powered. Google has the chance to become the early in technology for Autonomous Cars or vehicles that drive But their beta test using third-party cars and them with Google This limits Google’s to fully optimize the finished

Google also does not the battery technology to create an Electric Car (AEC), which I will be the car of the future. Leading the may require the capability of building own cars.

There is one auto that has many of the characteristics make it an ideal acquisition for Google: Tesla (TSLA ). If acquired Tesla, it could the development of the AEC. Google have access to Tesla’s battery technology, state of the art and brilliant engineers which, with their own technology and atmosphere, would provide a foundation for developing and implementing the needed in, and desired of, an AEC. Tesla is so advanced in its manufacturing and in the of technology within a car, it provide Google with the opportunity to create an AEC that is at a marketable price.

The two key technologies in an AEC are the battery and Lidar radar). Google has taken cars from Toyota (TM ), and Lexus and outfitted them about $150,000 in equipment to them to robotic cars. The system consumes about of that amount. Lidar is a sensing technology using to help create a detailed 3-D map of a surroundings.

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This information plus the GPS location data and Google’s maps are then fed into that control the car’s

In a way, this is just a (much) more sophisticated of the robotic vacuum cleaner, the which is found in millions of and maps the layout of a room and determines a route to clean the that insures full while traversing a relatively distance. Of course the Roomba at a fraction of the speed of a car and won’t anyone if it crashes. Similarly, a sophisticated version of Roomba, has already proven that the and AI technology for self-driving cars is

The Anki application is currently in but certainly foreshadows the potential for

Already, today’s cars AEC features. For instance, Ford (F ) has a few that will self-park, in a tight space. Radar, control, and GPS now come standard or as an in most cars.

And a few even adaptive cruise control slows the car down when it too close to a car ahead.

The right of players (Google and Tesla) claim at least 5% of dollars in the market within 10 years about $100 to 200 billion in

Mike Kwatinetz is a founding partner at Azure Capital where he specializes in software and infrastructure technologies. He owns Tesla and Facebook stocks. post is from his blog, . 

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