Google reportedly paying $100M to retain Wildfire staff

Google acquired Wildfire last week, and it looks like this could have been a talent acquisition based on a new report today.

Google announced last Tuesday that it is acquiring Wildfire, a startup with a successful viral marketing campaign platform. But it looks like Google isn't just interested in the technology -- it wants the employees too.

TechCrunch reports based on knowledge from unspecified sources that Google has set up a fund worth $100 million dedicted to earn-outs and retention bonuses to keep Wildfire employees from jumping ship once the deal is done.

Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but AllThingsD originally reported that the estimated sale price was approximately $250 million before concurring with TechCrunch that the figure was probably closer to $350 million.

Wildfire leaders noted in the announcement that there wouldn't be any "changes to our service and support for our customers" with the merger. So why the need to pay so much to retain the staff?

That's probably because Wildfire will now play a key role in Google's evolving social marketing strategy -- potentially involving other Google units such as search and advertising as well as the Google+ network.

Furthermore, a reader pointed out to us last week that Google's acquisition of Wildfire follows an interesting pattern of giant enterprise corporations buying out smaller social media and marketing-focused companies. Just look at and Buddy Media as well as Oracle's purchases of Involver and Vitrue.

It's evident then that Google not only wants to be more competitive on this front, but it's going to need the people with the know-how to actually accomplish anything in this field. Thus, Google must not think that it can afford to lose any of Wildfire's talent.

Google employed 54,604 full-time employees worldwide as of June 30 -- compared to 33,077 full-time employees as of March 31 -- boosted primarily by the closure of the Motorola Mobility deal.