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Google jettisons radio broadcasting biz

WideOrbit takes payload

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Google has offloaded its radio automation business, six months after telling the world that its radio efforts "haven't had the impact we hoped for."

On Wednesday, San Francisco-based startup WideOrbit announced it had acquired the assets to Google's radio automation biz, including three software products for driving radio broadcasts: Google Radio Automation, Maestro, and SS32 products. WideOrbit offers its own management software that oversees traffic, revenues, and billing for radio broadcasters.

"The acquisition of Google Radio Automation is key to WideOrbit’s strategy to expand our product offering and deliver the most advanced and comprehensive solution to radio broadcasters," reads a canned statement from founder and chief executive Eric Mathewson. "This acquisition greatly benefits WideOrbit radio customers and Google’s radio automation customers alike."

According to Mathewson, Google's automation customers number 3,600 worldwide.

In February, as it worked to cut costs amidst a tanking economy, Google said it would discontinue its radio ad programs - Google Audio Ads and Google AdSense for Audio - and look to sell its radio automation software, which facilitates ad placements while managing broadcasts as a whole.

But the company's own admission, these dovetailing radio efforts never really took off. "In 2006, we launched Google Audio Ads and Google Radio Automation to create a new revenue stream for broadcast radio, produce more relevant advertising for listeners and streamline the buying and selling of radio ads," the company said. "While we've devoted substantial resources to developing these products and learned a lot along the way, we haven't had the impact we hoped for."

In exiting the radio business, Google said it would be forced to layoff about 40 employees. But WideOrbit indicates that at least some of Google's existing radio automation staff will join its operation.

Earlier this month, Google sent an email to its Google Radio Automation customers saying that a WideOrbit deal was imminent - an apparent attempt to head-off competitors claiming they could provide support for Google's product.

"We... would like you to know that no other organization has access to the underlying source code, development team, or development plans for Google Radio Automation, SS32 or Maestro. Without access to these valuable resources no other organization is able to provide support for our systems," the email read.

Those assets now lie with WideOrbit. The company already re-branded Google Radio Automation. It's now called WO Automation for Radio. ®

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