Google's Got Game, Buys Slide for $228 Million

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Google bought Facebook apps maker Slide Inc. for $228 million Aug. 4Internet search giant Google (GOOG) acquired Slide for $228 million Wednesday, Business Insider reported. San Francisco-based Slide started out making photo-sharing software for social networking sites like MySpace, and it has become the top third-party developer for Facebook, providing picture slideshows and photo albums. TechCrunch had reported earlier Wednesday that founder Max Levchin was getting just $128 million for the sale of his company, but the actual price is still a drop from the $550 million valuation its investors gave it in 2008.

The deal follows closely on the heels of Google's investment of at least $100 million -- Business Insider says it's double that figure -- in Zynga, creator of such wildly popular Facebook games as FarmVille and Mafia Wars. Google's strategy of purchasing or investing in game developers is seen as part of an expected assault on the burgeoning social-networking world centered around Facebook and its 500 million members. Conveniently, Zynga appears to have had a falling-out with Facebook, leaving an opening for Google. Some 60 million Facebook members play Zynga's games and they spend real-world cash to do so -- the company projects $1 billion in revenue next year.

TechCrunch recently said that Zynga "will be the cornerstone of a new Google Games to launch later this year." The Wall Street Journal also recently reported that Google is cultivating relationships with online game developers such as Zynga, Playdom, Electronic Arts (ERTS) and others to incorporate their games into its forthcoming game service, part of a broader effort to compete with Facebook. Playdom itself was snapped up by Walt Disney (DIS) for for $563.2 million last week, raising the hopes of game developers everywhere.
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