The quality and amount of discourse on the proposed takeover of Yahoo! by Microsoft has had my bullshit meter jumping off the charts, and I felt I just had to chime in.
Paul Kedrosky summed it up best when he said that it would benefit Google the most. Anyone with half a brain and who has worked in corporate management more than one week knows that the most painful thing to do in business is to grow by acquisition. Acquisitions are especially hard to do in a market which has matured relatively quickly in the US, such as search advertising. But analysts and senior management sometimes like to do acquisitions because it creates a lot of buzz. And in the lousy US market nowadays, any buzz which does not include the keyword “subprime” is welcome buzz.
Organic growth is the much better way, and in the long run, yields better results. A lot of early Google talent has been cashing in their chips and leaving the company; shouldn’t Microsoft focus on hiring some of those very smart people to beef up their search offerings? Wouldn’t that be a better way to catch up to Google’s search technology? Yes, and I’m sure that Microsoft is doing that right now, but it doesn’t capture the imagination of the old media folks the way Microsoft! would.
“Let’s toss a big fat red herring to the dumb masses!”
In spite of its management problems, Microsoft still has a formidable technology pool of talent. The fact that it cannot create an operating system as reliable as Apple’s Leopard even though it has more than three times the number of employees is more a testament to bad management of talent and resources than to anything else. It could even be argued that Ubuntu Linux has a friendlier and more stable operating system, and it has almost no revenue, and almost everyone working on it is a volunteer!
So why does Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer want to do this deal? I see it as hail-Mary desperation pass to show that he is “doing something”. If you are saying that it is useless and dumb, then you have a problem. You see, you have committed the unforgiveable sin of looking too closely and thinking too much.
Shame on you!
To add to the entertainment value of this show, Google has jumped in with claims that it is seeking to protect the “openness of the Internet from a closed company like Microsoft”. Now, I have had many images of the Internet, but I have never quite had the image of the Internet as this beautiful bride about to be horribly ravished by some mean thug in the northwest. As a matter of fact, I think that the Internet has been ravished many times before, continues to be ravished, and somehow manages to live with it and get along with life.
Now, if Google has suddenly discovered that Microsoft is closed, why should it limit itself to complaining about Microsoft? Why not go after nation-states which are not famous for openness, and frequently tinker with the “openness” of the Internet. If they have any trouble thinking of any, they are welcome to call me.
I could easily come up with more than 190 names.
So Google can now also score points with your senile old grandfather, the one who criticized Microsoft for being a monopoly way back in the 90s, but still makes sure to keep his copies of Microsoft Office current.
YEAH, GOOGLE STANDS FOR OPENNESS!
Now, to add to Uncle Steve’s general cluelessness, he comes out with this gem stating that Google has no products, it only has search. He may not have heard it, but there is a whole bunch of businesses which don’t have products; they’re called services.
Yes, Google doesn’t have any products; it only has services. But the services produce something called search advertising revenue by matching advertisers with content providers using keywords and taking a chunk of revenue in the process.
Do you think that Steve knows why he’s buying Yahoo?
Frightening thought, isn’t it?