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STARTUP

5 Startups Google Might Acquire Next

Move over, Nest. Thalmic Labs and other gesture-tech startups might be on the search giant's radar.

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Google's acquisition of Nest was monumental for the hardware community. Not only did it represent a major company seeing value in a startup, it cemented that startup's place in Google's ecosystem, which is no small feat.

Hardware is one of the most exciting startup frontiers, but at the same time is notorious for causing investors to lose hundreds of millions of dollars. Considered the double black diamond of startups, hardware is just plain hard business for entrepreneurs.

One of the things that makes it so challenging is a lack of consistent acquisitions. Hardware startups are often forced to become standalone businesses, winning capital from a handful of investors just to compete against multi-billion dollar conglomerates. Makerbot and Nest now have the opportunity to change this, but it won't come without a fight. Here are a few startups who could turn things around for hardware makers--and why Google might have an eye on them.

Fitbit
With a simple wristband, this startup made tracking health fun. And by targeting users outside the tech scene, Fitbit found a way to connect with people like suburban moms, thanks to its suite of products that provide actionable results all day. From sleeping to exercising, Fitbit has built an experienced team that Google might find rather useful.

DropCam
DropCam makes networked video look easy, even though it's anything but. A software company, it just happen to make a connected video camera that can serve a variety of applications, including watching your house, pets, and/or children. Dropcam could help Google improve its video products, especially as it tries to make Hangouts a staple at work. 

Electric Imp
Tony Fadell knows Electric Imp's team well, as it was founded by some of the best Apple engineers. Its focus on making Wi-Fi more accessible could also be valuable to Google as the latter moves further into the wearable tech space.

3D Robotics
If drones are the future, then 3D Robotics is the next Makerbot. Its drones are ubiquitous, while its rich developer community is helping them become the Android OS of drones. If the startup succeeds as the clear market leader, it could help Google build up its momentum in robotics innovation.

Thalmic Labs
Gesture technology is the future and this team is leading the way. Without personally knowing how deep its engineering and design teams are, Google may want a team to re-imagine gesture technology for all of the hardware products it is building.

GoPro
This startup owns action video/image capture, which has turned out to be a huge market. Its demographic is also technical and boasts a devoted user base that Google probably can't get enough of. GoPro's marketing prowess could also help Google sell people on the idea of Google Glass as a gadget that's cool, not incredibly dorky. 

IMAGE: Jeroen Mirck via Flickr
Last updated: Jan 22, 2014

MARC BARROS is the co-founder and former CEO of Contour, a hands-free camera company. Shortly after graduating from the University of Washington, Marc co-founded Contour in 2004 and led the organization from a garage to a multi-million dollar company. Contour products were sold in over 40 countries through action sports retailers and national chains, including Best Buy and Apple.
@marcbarros




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