Friday, February 01, 2008

will microsoft + yahoo! be microhoo! or yahoo!soft?

Other folks are already writing about what Microsoft's proposed $44 billion buyout of Yahoo! could accomplish. Sure, maybe you can sum up their search and add businesses and create a more solid competitor to Google, although history is a bit short on examples of two losing businesses combining to create a Voltron of success. Moreover, what happens to top talent at Yahoo!? Microsoft's offer is a pretty impressive premium on Yahoo!'s current stock price, so folks holding on to complete their vesting may see this as a cashout opportunity. Many employees may have chosen Yahoo! over Microsoft because of -- in my opinion, outdated -- worries about Microsoft's culture, business practice, operating system choices, or whatever.

Worse, it seems like both Microsoft and Yahoo! are still trying to play catchup to Google by copying Google rather than by attacking whatever's next. Sure, when Google is raking in nearly $5 billion a quarter, it may be tempting to just copy them, but does anyone really believe that in a decade current approaches to search and ads will still be dominant? Adwords are the most profitable way to sell online advertising today, but there are 100 (1000?) different approaches being tried in garages and labs all over the world.

Many of those will be better than adwords. By a lot. I'm not sure that Microsoft is more likely to own one of those approaches by buying Yahoo!

Which in now way is a slag on Yahoo! Many friends at Yahoo! are among the smartest folks I know, but they don't seem to be leveraging the advantages they have -- remember, they have the most popular portal and email system on the Web -- to the degree I would have expected, and I doubt being acquired by Microsoft will change that.


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