In case you haven't heard, Kanye West and Rihanna recently took it upon themselves to collaborate with Sir Paul McCartney. The trio performed their acoustic rap-meets-pop tune at the Grammys Sunday night and it was nothing short of amazing. Meanwhile, Annie Lennox put a spell on Hozier and reminded everyone that sometimes it's good to be out with the new and in with the old. And if you didn't get the goose bumps listening to the glorious collaboration between John Legend and Common--which already won the pair a Golden Globe for "Best Original Song"--then heck, we don't know what will.

In the business world, some partnerships are equally made in heaven. In 1997, Microsoft invested $150 million in Apple. The arrangement was intended to give Microsoft a vehicle for installing its operating system on Mac products; at the time, Apple was close to filing for bankruptcy protection. More recently, Quirky teamed up with GE on its Internet of Things venture called Wink. Through that collaboration, Quirky can access hundreds of the conglomerate's patents, while GE can keep its pipeline of innovative ideas flowing freely. And up until recently you might have added Google and Uber to that list.

In 2013, when Google Ventures poured more than $250 million into the on-demand car service, the match was hailed as a major milestone. After all, for tech companies, having Google as an investor is pretty much the best thing that could ever happen. Uber was able to use Google Maps to run its services, as well as glean expertise from working with Google execs. In exchange, Google may well land a sizeable return once the San Francisco-based company, now worth north of $40 billion, goes public. It's largely expected to pursue an IPO this year. 

And while the marriage between Uber and Google proved happy for some time, recently, a divorce looks nigh.

Google is said to be weighing its own ride-sharing app, while Uber is said to be looking into self-driving cars. In addition, Uber is reportedly looking to partner with Facebook's Messenger App to integrate the car service and the chatting application.

Of course, not all partnerships (in business or otherwise) will work out--and indeed there are some you wish never materialized in the first place--see Lady Gaga getting cheeky with Tony Bennett. But when they work, collaborations can be heavenly--particularly for startups and smaller companies. 

Well-established companies--like Google and GE--can offer more than money, they can also be a source of expert advice and much-needed infrastructure. For example, David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer is also an Uber board member. Smaller companies can further benefit from a larger company's distribution networks and other key contacts. Such a relationship can also land a smaller company additional funding lines, as the larger company's investment may well be seen as a credibility boost. 

These kinds of brand marriages clearly have upsides and downsides--just make sure you're not stuck paying alimony if they don't work out.

 

 

Published on: Feb 9, 2015