What do you do if you spend £37m ($61.5m) acquiring an Internet company only to then decide, well, it might not have been the best idea after all? If you’re Google, you quietly take it offline and go back to square one.
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You may (or may not) remember that in July 2011, Google launched a mortgage comparison service called UK Compare Mortgages. Its name was a strategic choice, and the site appeared prominently in its search results when relevant keywords were entered. And yes, it included sponsored links to a bunch of mortgage providers.
The service came to fruition off the back of an acquisition it made in March last year, when Google bought out an existing comparison website that included a mortgage quote service called Beatthatquote.com – for a not-insignifcant sum of £37.7m, the equivalent of around $61.5m (USD) at the time.
The site was initially a trial service, and it was quietly taken offline back in September last year, with a message simply saying: “We’re in the process of revamping our mortgage comparison service. It will be unavailable for a period of time while we work on those improvements.”
Now, as the Telegraph reports, Google has given the situation some official clarity and declared that there’s no immediate plans to revive the project. (Update: The Telegraph has since revised its report following the statement from Google below).
“We’ve been prioritising our product efforts across Google, which means taking a hard look at products that haven’t been as successful as we would have hoped,” says a Google spokesperson. “We’ve closed down the mortgage search feature of Google Advisor in the US and are focused on building continued improvements into the rest of the product. We tested a mortgage comparison product in the UK for a short time during the summer of 2011. That test is no longer running and we have not made a decision on our next mortgage comparison step in the UK.”
Update: Google has confirmed that this change is just for the US and is still committed to the space in general. A spokesperson told us:
“This change was for the US product only and has to do with the dynamics of the US mortgage market. We’re still committed to this space overall. As an example, we recently acquired Beat That Quote (BTQ) in the UK and have been working hard on great new experiences for our users that combine Google and BTQ expertise.”
Google Advisor was launched in the US by the Internet giant in May last year, and the financial comparison site is still operational, though as the Google spokesperson notes, it now lacks the mortgage comparison feature.
It’s likely that the poor predicament of the respective housing markets in both the UK and the US will have had a part to play in its decision to pull the plug, but at any rate – with revenues of around $40bn in 2011, £37m is pocket change really.
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