Google could move to enhance maps

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SAN FRANCISCO — Google Inc. is in talks to buy Skybox Imaging Inc., a provider of high-definition imagery that could enhance the Web company’s maps, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The negotiations are early and a deal may not take place, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. It’s also not clear how Google would use Skybox, which provides detailed photos and analytics to customers via satellites of locations around the world.

Google is scouring the technology universe for deals that push into new markets as competitors challenge its services, including everything from search and mapping to telecommunications and music sales. The search provider, which has disclosed at least five acquisitions this month, has held talks with video-service Twitch Interactive Inc., a person familiar with the matter said earlier this week.

Representatives for both Mountain View, Calif.-based companies declined to comment.

TheInformation reported last month Google is in discussions to acquire Skybox. TechCrunch reported Friday that the price could be in the $1 billion range, citing a source familiar with the matter.

Skybox has designed satellites to capture images and deliver them to customers with details down to less than a meter according to its website. Targeted industries include agriculture, mining and insurance.

The imagery company, whose initial business plan was written in 2009, has a team of more than 100 people, according to its website. Skybox’s investors include Khosla Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Canaan Partners and Norwest Ventures Partners. It has raised more than $85 million.

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