Much of the credit for Google’s hefty, stock-record-smashing quarter last week has gone to new CFO Ruth Porat and her prudential words to Wall Street. The New York Times even christened her arrival the return of “adult supervision.”
But here’s another factor: Google just didn’t buy as much.
In a regulatory filing today, the company reported that its acquisitions and asset purchases for the first six months of the year totaled $149 million. Compare that to the first half of last year, when Google closed its massive purchase of Nest Labs ($2.5 billion on the books) plus another $1 billion and change in smaller pickups. Last year was one of Google’s largest for acquisitions. But this year still pales next to 2013, when Google scooped up Waze (just under a billion) and 15 more companies for $344 million.
So, after a particularly acquisitive streak, Google is slowing down. Or at least letting its newest companies — and their many employees — integrate into the rest of the Plex. During the most recent quarter, its R&D spending rose by $551 million. Much of it, according to the SEC filing, went to facilities (data centers) and labor (salaries and stock to Googlers, who grew 17 percent in number).
Still, the slowdown surely doesn’t indicate a full stop. Google has just under $70 billion on hand. And, despite the new lip service to “expense discipline,” as Porat pledged on the earnings call, Google still believes that plowing that money into research and acquisitions is superior to, say, paying back dividends to shareholders.
Prudential Porat said as much. “To date,” she told analysts, “the biggest return on investment here has been in our core search business including mobile search, as a result of both smart M&A and capex.”
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.