Google paid USD$26bn for default search engine status; Buzzfeed in talks to sell Complex Networks

Google Payments

In today’s ExchangeWire news digest: Google paid USD$26.3bn (£21.7bn) for default search engine status in 2021; Omnicom acquires Flywheel for USD$835m (£688m); and Buzzfeed in advanced talks to sell Complex Networks.

Google paid USD$26bn for default search engine status

Google paid USD$26.3bn (£21.7bn) across multiple partners to be the default search engine on mobile phones and web browsers in 2021, according to figures released as part of the ongoing federal antitrust trial in the United States. According to the slide shown on Friday (27th October), the search division booked revenue of USD$146bn (£120bn) in 2021, representing roughly three times the USD$47bn (£39bn) it reported in 2014.

The US DOJ complaint reads, ““Google pays billions of dollars each year to distributors—including popular-device manufacturers such as Apple, LG, Motorola, and Samsung; major US wireless carriers such as AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon; and browser developers such as Mozilla, Opera, and UCWeb—to secure default status for its general search engine and, in many cases, to specifically prohibit Google’s counterparties from dealing with Google’s competitors.”

Omnicom acquires Flywheel for USD$835m (£688m)

Omnicom has acquired Ascential’s digital commerce unit Flywheel for USD$835m (£688m), marking a record purchase for the advertising holding group. Flywheel’s platform is used by its clients to sell products more efficiently over various digital marketplaces, including Amazon, Walmart, and Alibaba.

In a statement, John Wren, chairman and CEO of Omnicom said, "E-commerce sales worldwide are set to increase by 50%, reaching about USD$7tn (£5.8tn) dollars by 2025. The acquisition of Flywheel significantly broadens our reach and influence in the rapidly expanding digital commerce and retail media sectors, two of the fastest-growing parts of the industry. Together, we will seamlessly integrate our offerings across retail and brand media, digital and in-store commerce, and CRM, ultimately delivering superior results for our clients."

Buzzfeed in talks to sell Complex Networks

Buzzfeed is in advanced talks to sell digital media company Complex Networks to e-commerce firm Ntwrk, at less than half the price it paid to acquire the firm. According to a report published by the New York Times, Buzzfeed will sell the majority of Complex Network Assets to Ntwrk for less than USD$140m (£115m), having acquired the firm for USD$300m (£247m) in 2021.

Sources familiar with Ntwrk’s plans for the acquired firm state that it will leverage its sizable audience to sell products such as shoes and apparel, with Complex best known for its ComplexCon pop culture festival. Buzzfeeds fortunes have declined notably since it was valued at USD$1.7bn (£1.4bn) in 2016, now with a market capitalisation of just USD$42.7m (£35.2m).