Posts about yahoo

Guardian column: Micohoo vs. Gulliver

My Guardian column this week on the Microhoo search lashup:

In bringing together their search traffic, Microsoft and Yahoo are fighting an unwinnable war. Worse, they are still fighting the last war. . . .

But while they pound their little fists on Google’s shins, Google remains the unchallenged giant in the arena that really matters: advertising revenue. According to the blog Search Engine Land, Google takes almost a third of all online advertising money – $21bn a year – and it doesn’t rely just on search.

And Google is turning to the next battlefields: mobile, social media, the live web, and online tools. . . .

Yahoo can now jettison the technology resources that went into search. That’s rather sad. After all, 15 years ago, it was Yahoo that first organised the web for us. Its original ambition seems quaintly naive today: human editors cataloguing every site worth visiting and deciding which were the hot ones we should visit. Back then, we, and Yahoo, thought the web was a medium, like TV, that we experienced together. Yahoo never quite broke out of that thinking. It still treats its site as a destination we have to go to with walls around it to keep us in. It just introduced a new homepage to some fanfare. Homepages are so 1999. . . .

So, let Yahoo and Microsoft celebrate their deal. Yahoo doesn’t have as much to celebrate. It turned down acquisition offers and now it gets no cash from Microsoft. And it is surrendering its earliest competence to a competitor. Microsoft has more cause to grin. It got Yahoo’s search traffic for no cash and doesn’t have to manage the rest of the old beast.

And Google? One wonders whether it notices beyond that irritating poking at its shins. It’s too busy trying to conquer what comes next.

A mouse roars

Poor Yahoo. It only goes from worse to worse. They might finally get rid of ineffectual Jerry Yang but then they might get Mark Cuban in the boardroom along with Carl Icahn’s slate. Cuban has an absolutely numbnutty plan to kill Google: Paying sites to drop out of the Google index.

What does CBS stand for?

Some headscratching happening at the Online Publishers Association meeting here in London over CBS’ purchase of CNET for $1.8 billion.

I wonder: What is CBS now? What does the brand mean? They just gutted the online news operation and word has it they don’t like new (which I have to believe is a prelude to the same happening to CBS News on the air; a company that likes news would like news anywhere). They had a big news brand that has only deflated. And now they buy, a large (but not growing) niche (but large niche) site.

So CBS joins the ranks of Time Warner and Microsoft, to name two, that try to buy the internet strategies they don’t have. Oh, what the hell, add Yahoo to that list, starting with its purchase of, which I bring up just to note that Mark Cuban, made a billionaire by that purchase (which soon died) is not on Carl Icahn’s slate of rebel directors for Yahoo. Even Yahoo doesn’t have an internet strategy.

If I started a company, I’d take good money, of course, but I sure would hope not to be bought by a company that is using it to buy the strategy it doesn’t have. I can’t think of a case in which that has worked, can you?

Deal with the devil

The best analysis of the Microhoo has been Kara Swisher’s, particularly her explanation of how Google ended up as the winner.

While Yahoo (YHOO) might not have wanted to be acquired by Microsoft (MSFT), its alternative to goose its revenues by relying on Google (GOOG) in an outsourced online search-ad deal is one it might regret even more if struck.

Why? Aside from the potential antitrust issues, which are distracting at the very least, it fundamentally puts one of Yahoo’s main businesses-search advertising-directly into the hands of the very company that killed off Yahoo’s chances of ever succeeding in the arena in the first place.

Yahoo has no visible strategy. Microsoft isn’t in much better shape. AOL remains a drag on TWX. Google wins again.

Yahoo, indeed

As a Microsoft shareholder, I’d be delighted if they are saved from buying Yahoo. As a Time Warner shareholder, I’d be delighted if they were saved from owning AOL. But I do think a Yahoo-AOL lashup is this is Dumb and Dumber, Incorporated. Who would run the thing? None of their current bosses, I’d hope. What would the strategy be? Nothing like what it is now: get out of portalthink and get into platformthink, please.

: LATER: A reporter asked for my take and predictions on the MyMicroYahOLSpace orgy. I said:

First, I think a Microsoft-Yahoo combination made little sense. It was Microsoft’s attempt to buy audience — as if you can own audience today, as if we can be bought and sold. That is the old-media way of looking at the world: they controlled content, marketed to get people to come to you, showed them ads, then waved good-bye.

The new way — the Google way — is to be distributed, to make your content, brand, and advertising exportable and embeddable (as with Google AdSense or YouTube videos or Google Maps). I believe that both Yahoo and AOL should follow that example, making everything they have exportable, and becoming a platform for individuals and companies to create and mash-up content and even start businesses.

The other opportunity is to become the ad network for this distributed world. Problem is, Google got there first. AOL and Yahoo have invested fortunes in ad platforms. Again, they did this in the old-media manner, trying to aggregate audience and networks under their roofs. Google, meanwhile, not only bought DoubleClick but also opened Ad Manager, which will serve anyone’s ads for free (and give Google the chance to serve its own ads when sites want). That will expand Google farther and faster than any acquisition like Yahoo or AOL could. If Google can also expand via Yahoo and Yahoo can get more revenue from that than from its own advertising — which says a lot about Yahoo’s strategy — then fine; but doing anything you can to avoid Microsoft is not itself a strategy; it’s a move of desperation.

Microsoft is trying to buy the online strategy is still has not managed to build on its own.

Yahoo and AOL are trying to regain an online strategy they lost. Will they be better together than they were apart? It depends on who manages them and who comes up with a strategy. Clearly, the incumbents at both companies have failed. This takes new leadership who understands the new architecture of the media world and I’m not sure where they’ll find that person. Trying to lash together these two failing strategies and cultures and come out with something new is a thankless task.

News Corp., meanwhile, is being very clever in trying to offload some of the risk of MySpace. People ridiculed the purchase when it was made. It turned out to be smart, as so often happens with the moves Murdoch takes that others ridicule. MySpace is worth more but its strategy is also somewhat unclear as Facebook — and even new platforms like Twitter — build deeper relationships with their members. So if Murdoch can get value out of MySpace now, at a high, and lessen his risk, then he’d be happy.

At the end, I think Microsoft could still win because it is the only one willing to pay much of a premium. Time Warner is a bit desperate to get rid of AOL but it won’t value it too low after having valued it way too high. News Corp. has already shown it is not willing to pay a premium and will only go along for the ride if someone else does.