Okay we know that Google is divesting itself of Performics.... well the search arm anyway. They are keeping the affiliate marketing arm.
Google had started their version of affiliate marketing some time ago with their CPA ads. Sign up through AdSense and you could use the creatives and get paid on conversions, while advertisers could offer amounts for conversions and Google tracked to see if it was a better financial deal for them.... this has not taken off.
But grabbing experienced affiliate marketing consultants could turn this into the hope they once saw in it.
Unfortunately it is a move similar to the push into analytics and ad serving - if it works Google will provide some serious competition to all other affiliate programs. They have the ability to be the nexus between a lot of publishers and a lot of advertisers and to really make an impact in the space.
I am at the Casino Affiliate Conference right now in Amsterdam and plan on asking the large vendors here how they see the possibility of Google competing in their space. Will keep you posted.
On the other side, ValueClick has shown an interest, according to ClickZ.. Now ValueClick pumps up its already global services. They offer ad serving management, SEO, affiliate marketing (maybe do a trade), display advertising, behavioral.... well equipped and adding an additional search force possibly ....