Microsoft Offers to Buy Yahoo for $44.6B

February 1, 2008 at 10:57 am | Posted in Internet/Browsers, Microsoft, social software, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment

Computerworld reported today that Microsoft offered to buy Yahoo for $44.6B

Microsoft Corp. today offered to buy Yahoo Inc. for $44.6 billion in cash and stock to better compete with Google Inc. in the market for online services.

CEO Steve Ballmer made the offer in a letter to Yahoo’s board of directors yesterday, telling the board that he would release the letter this morning.

On a conference call this morning, Microsoft’s president of its Platforms & Services division Kevin Johnson called a combination of Microsoft and Yahoo a more “credible” alternative to Google in the online advertising and services market.

“By combining the assets of Microsoft and Yahoo, we can offer a more competitive choice for consumers, advertisers and publishers,” he said.

There have been rumors of this for quite some time:

  • 2005: ZDNet speculated about Yahoo and Microsoft teaming up to better compete with Google: “As it turns out, in true enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend fashion, Yahoo and Microsoft have a mutual problem in Google. … Given that Yahoo and Microsoft were already chummy with each other on the multimedia front, why not merge their walled gardens to increase the utility of both in hopes of heading off any more defectors (end users) from taking in oodles and oodles of Google (at the expense of everyone else). ”
  • 2006: SearchEngineWatch blogged that “Yahoo & Microsoft Have Talked Partnering, Merging”
  • 2007: BusinessWeek reported “In the battle of online search, Microsoft is again courting Yahoo, according to media reports”

Of course, you could probably pick any two technology titans and find enough written about them to connect a thread.  But this seems more than random chance since there are obvious synergies, but one issue that makes me question the long term value.

Looking at it from a marketing point of view it’s a very good move.  Yahoo offers strength in web advertising, social computing, and web-based email where Microsoft is weak.  They have overlapping (and expensive) assets in search and categorization that can be consolidated and trimmed.  They also offer great talent and intangibles around web 2.0 and a disruptive, creative mindset.

From an infrastructure point of view I’m a bit more dubious.  Yahoo seems to favor the kind of Java, Unix, and open source tools (Apache, FreeBSD, Perl, PHP, Linux) you’d expect out of a young company out to challenge the powers that be.  If Yahoo has a huge number of very bright programmers that are almost religiously dedicated to Unix-based platforms and development they may not want to switch.  For scale reasons I’m sure Microsoft would allow this subset of the company to continue along that Unix path (I’m not saying they’d force mass conversion at the point of a sword), but it would take some restraint not to try injecting Windows servers and .NET into newer offerings and slowly alienate the staff. 

So, in summary, I think from a financial view it probably looks good (win/win for both sides), from a marketing view it looks good (fills in weaknesses of Microsoft and allows for consolidation of operations), but longer term the risk associated with the assimilation of Yahoo into Microsoft (and therefore the odds of capitalizing on the assets they are acquiring) may be even higher than normal for tech companies.

Conference Presentation Coming Up

February 21, 2007 at 3:42 pm | Posted in collaboration, Content Management, Internet/Browsers, portals | Leave a comment

I’m still typing frantically on my report on building portals in SharePoint and preparing for our upcoming workshop, but I thought I’d poke my head up for a minute to point you to a presentation I’m looking forward to doing in May in Las Vegas.  Details are below. Hope to see you there!

WHAT: The Shared Insights’ Portals, Collaboration and Content Conference
WHEN: May 22-24, 2007

The Shared Insights’ Portals, Collaboration and Content Conference

My presentation is:

Picking the Right Tool for the Job: E-mail, IM, Post or Publish
Wednesday, May 23, 2007, 1:45 PM – 2:45 PM
Presented By: Craig Roth, Vice President and Service Director, Burton Group
Information workers today are blessed with an abundance of communication and collaboration tools on their desktop, including e-mail, an intranet portal, wikis, instant messaging, shared workspaces and team rooms and the old-fashioned phone. Unfortunately, they do not always receive guidance to go along with this embarrassment of riches that would help them decide which tool to click on or when to use it. Instead, they often wind up selecting by convenience and familiarity rather than picking the best tool for the job. In this presentation, Craig Roth will discuss individual and enterprise guidance on how to find the right tool for the right job.Key Issues:

  • What kind of problems are information workers trying to solve today?
  • How do the communication and collaboration tools such as wikis, blogs, team rooms and e-mail fit with these needs?
  • How do I use enterprise policy and guidelines on channel and workspace selection to improve overall efficiency of information workers?

Firefox and IE are at it Again

October 27, 2006 at 10:33 am | Posted in Browsers, Internet/Browsers | Leave a comment

People love an underdog story – the little guy who the big guys ignore but triumphs through gut, gumption, and raw talent. I just watched Rocky again for the first time in years (the original, non-Roman-numeraled movie) and the clichés are all there.

This explains why the press loves the Mozilla vs. Microsoft story. Every couple of years IE and Mozilla (formerly the Netscape guys) go at it again, releasing new versions of their browsers and the spotlights shine brightly on them. It’s not as much that the product improvements themselves are that exciting, but the resurfacing of that underdog story.

A look through my press quotes from InformationWeek, Forbes, ComputerWorld, and Tech News World shows how nothing really changes. I was interviewed by NPR on this subject in 2005 as well, and I can guarantee they didn’t care just because of the evening news listener’s interest in tabbed browsing and CSS support. But “Can a plucky non-profit beat giant Microsoft?” – now that’s a story!

Here are some other quotes of mine for historical perspective on this never-ending story:

In my most recent interview, when asked if I thought Mozilla 2.0 was a major release, I said not really. But they had to put something out since the spotlight was going to be there anyways and they have to look busy. To quote myself:

“I think they’re invigorated, knowing browsers are in the news again,” he said of Firefox maker Mozilla. “They want to have something to show if people are going to pay attention to them.”

I do think Mozilla 3.0 will have more in it, but really the value of a browser is that it’s a thin, stable platform on which to run web applications. I want all the improvements and variation in the apps, not the viewer for them. Where there are fixes needed, fix them. Where there can be neat improvements (like tabbed browsing – love it!), make them. Put in support for Rich Internet Applications (RIA) technology. Otherwise, leave it alone and just keep my apps humming along smoothly.

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