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There Have Been No Google-Spotify Acquisition Talks

It might make sense, but it has not happened as yet.

When last we checked in, The Wall Street Journal was surmising, based on a public cocktail between AOL CEO Tim Armstrong and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer in Sun Valley, that a merger could possibly be afoot between their companies.

As I later reported, not so much with the dream team of creaky Internet portals, at least up until then.

Today — based partly on a previous filing by Google about an unnamed foreign company it tried and failed to buy for $4 billion to $5 billion and a line I had in a story that noted that a top exec at the search giant had expressed interest in buying Spotify — the Journal is reporting that Google tried to buy the music service, but walked away because the price was too high.

Riveting, perhaps — but not so much, again.

According to multiple (I just dialed my little fingers off) sources at both companies, there have been neither formal nor informal discussions between the companies about an acquisition, directly or indirectly.

That said, Spotify co-founder and CEO Daniel Ek has indeed met with Google execs about various and substantive commercial deals at YouTube, Google Play and Android.

“There has not been a single conversation about Google’s interest between the two,” said one source, reflecting many others. “There was never a price, never a negotiation, never anything.”

Just a lot of interest on Google’s part in Spotify, which has 10 million paying subscribers and three times that using its free service. And such a purchase of the popular offering makes a lot of sense for Google, since it has one music subscription service and has been trying to create another, with plans to launch this year.

That’s why, in a post largely about a top Google exec joining Spotify’s board and another former one becoming a key adviser, I had offhandedly reported yesterday that Susan Wojcicki, who is now YouTube’s head, thinks a lot of Spotify.

I did this largely because it is easy to jump to the conclusion that two Googlers now helping Spotify represents the first strike in the invasion of the Borg. Cue Uber!

What I was stating was that Wojcicki — who has a big-money kitty for buying stuff now — likes it and might therefore consider buying Spotify if she could. So do other Googlers, but this is a far cry from serious buying chitchat.

Someday maybe, but not today.

“Google likes Netflix too, but it’s not buying it,” joked one person with knowledge of the situation.

In addition, the Journal story noted that it was Wojcicki who was pushing the deal last year. Not so again, as she was only appointed to run YouTube in February and would have had little to do with any such purchase at the massive video service then.

Lastly, the Journal article stated that Google CEO Larry Page has a “lack of enthusiasm for subscription entertainment services.” Also not so — according to multiple sources inside the company who have heard him say it, Page has expressed an interest in the company expanding beyond its online advertising business, including pursuing subscription services.

Thus, mischief managed. Bankers, stand down!

(Please see my disclosure about Google here.)

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