Scads of stories are popping up that say Google is a likely bidder for Yell Group, the U.K.-based publisher that also operates U.S. independent Yellow Book. Here is a story in today’s Independent newspaper, which cites sources saying Google is a likely bidder, while others are more skeptical and expect a private equity to scoop up Yell.
Talk of Google buying a directory publisher is not new. At the DDC2005 conference in Denver, rumors were flying that Google was looking to buy a publisher, likely Yell, but nothing came of it.
Such a deal has some logic to it. After all, Google clearly wants access to a massive local channel (Yell’s U.K. and U.S. businesses combined have almost 8,000 sales reps). It is unclear, however, what it would do with the print business, which represents about 90 percent of revenues, though online has been growing rapidly in the U.K. and is beginning to take hold in the U.S.
It is hard to see the cultures of Google and Yell meshing easily.
And one would think Yell’s recent announcement that growth in the U.S. has plummeted would give Google pause on the strength of the Yellow Book channel, despite its massive size.
Still, what we are seeing and hearing seems to rise above the level of wild speculation, perhaps to educated speculation. We will stay tuned.