What’s next on Google’s buyout radar? Lots of people discuss this stuff. I don’t follow the discussions at all, but one idea stands out as a an interesting proposition.
There’s some discussion here in particular (that supports my argument):
“Google’s offered before, and Wikipedia has refused, and will continue to.” [blog.outer-court.com]
You can see a trajectory on Google’s end — they bought DejaNews for content (now Google Groups). Initially I found it a loss, but now, I live with it. They’ve set up wiki ability with Google Docs &Spreadsheets. They set up Google Current channel to broadcast content. They want to be the platform that people use to communicate and educate others in this “web 2.0″ generation.
But I think the only value Google could add to Wikipedia is cash for hosting, a better text editor (which 99% of audience doesn’t use — most of audience being visitors rather than contributors) and maybe higher scalability and reliability because of deep pockets and hardware.
However, there’s significant negative value to be added — actual censorship or perception that censorship is possible given past history.
Even for accepting large donations and becoming dependent on them, the risk is if they become so dependent on a single donor, then they can be influenced.
It doesn’t seem to make sense for Google to want to buy Wikipedia. So why did they want to before? Maybe to take away Yahoo’s search feed? Google approached them in 2005, perhaps around same time or after Yahoo provided them with hosting.