In what is perhaps the most astonishing bidding war in corporate history, Google today offered $10 billion for Dow Jones & Company, topping a $7.5 billion bid from Microsoft and earlier bids from Virgin and News Corp.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt said in a brief statement that the acquisition was part of Google's larger mission "to organize the world's information." The company plans to make all of Dow Jones output available for free on the web, with revenue to be derived from advertising through Google's AdSense and other ad programs including DoubleClick.
The Google offer is at a startling premium to past estimates of Dow Jones' value, but analysts predict Google can make it work. "Everything these guys touch turns to gold," noted Merrill Lynch analyst Jessica Reif Cohen.
No one at Dow Jones could be reached for comment, but reports of a champagne shortage in France have been attributed to heavy buying from the Bancroft family, which controls the company.