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I, Cringely - The Survival of the Nerdiest with Robert X. Cringely
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The Pulpit
Pulpit Comments
February 08, 2008 -- The Men Behind the Curtain
Status: [CLOSED]

I can't figure what's worse: the week's worth of-now-wasted anticipation for your column or that after having an entire week to prepare, that column was all that you could offer.

Eh, everyone has an off day.

nicolas | Feb 08, 2008 | 12:55AM

I think you may be right, if Micro$oft wanted to kill Google, it'd be buying Sprint right?

collin Reisdorf | Feb 08, 2008 | 1:14AM

Um, Bob, nicolas is right, even though he was a bit repetitive about it. This column was not among your best, and it started with a graceless note. ("It is a testament to the shallowness and endless repetition of both the tech and business media that there is still plenty to say about the deal, the true nature of which few people yet understand." That was a Patriotic thing to say, if you'll pardon the sports metaphor.)

Would it really be easier for Microsoft to assimilate every Google and Yahoo competitor than Yahoo itself? Based on my own experience going through acquiring and acquired companies, I disagree. Assimilating a company, if it's merely large enough to have HR and IT departments, is like kicking a dead whale up a beach. A dozen at a time? Each with its own egotistical former CEO, now a division VP? Lordy.

To your larger point: I am no fan of Microsoft, but they are unusually good among American businesses at looking four quarters into the future. Microsoft is the reason the word "Netscape" is a verb. For a current example, consider VMware: it's a fraction of Microsoft's size, and yet Microsoft is treating it as an existential threat. So the burden of proof is on anybody who says killing Google is not the point. Advancing that idea will take more than psychological allegory.

John Gruber's column on Microsoft's Yahoo bid was strong, and I recommend it. Keep up the good (usually) work, Bob.

Brian | Feb 08, 2008 | 1:52AM

Nobody else thinks this is still about the desktop and the browser wars? Yahoo has the greatest reach on the World Wide Web. Firefox and Mac OS X are gaining market share on IE and Windows. Microsoft's DNA, and their profitability, is in protecting desktop market share. If the merger happens -- and I don't think it will -- look for Yahoo to stop working on non-Microsoft products.

Joe | Feb 08, 2008 | 1:57AM


Isnt Yahoo mostly python internally? I wonder how that will be assimilated at the 'soft? Lots of challenges. That should keep them busy for a while...

Matt | Feb 08, 2008 | 2:42AM

Sorry Joe but you're wrong, Yahoo's search products(s) wouldn't quit working on non-Microsoft platforms. 1, that'd bring down the DOJ again and with a fury not seen since Bell. 2, it would bring down the EU's already agrivated fury as well. Also microsoft has no vested stake in turning away advertising consumers, you search they win. You E-Mail they win. IE -costs- them money, if you use Firefox on Windows you still have IE and you still have Windows. Hell MS just released Silverlight for Firefox, all the major MS web services work in Firefox and Apple has the source code to XP, legally. .NET software in general runs ok on Linux under mono and MS knows that in 5 years it's not going to matter if you're running Windows, OS X or even Linux or what processor you run it on. I dare say they're abandoning ship. Why should they pump millions and millions of dollars into developing operating systems which return around $60 a pop at the OEM level, if you use exclusivly Microsoft's search products they'll make more money showing you ads over the life span of your OS purchas than they did selling you the OS (unless you paid retail) and it will have cost them very little. Microsoft is after fresh DNA with good ideas in the web space, which outside of their management Yahoo has in spades. So you spend a few billion and get the brains and passion and drop the management. Not to mention Yahoo! comes with MILLIONS of international customers, a market Microsoft isn't doing that great in. Microsoft hasn't won the hearts and minds of the people of China and India, free software or pay as you go services are a lot more appealing when you're broke than laying out for Windows and Office is. Also as these new economies develop they'll need advertising and web products. Microsoft hopes to be there, because they can't be there to sell them Windows, Windows costs money to write, why not let India and China pay in man hours to develop Linux or other yet un-seen options in order to consume their services?

Noah | Feb 08, 2008 | 3:06AM

@Matt: From the few Yahoo! developers I have spoken to in London, the old-skool Yahoo!ers are using Pyphon, the new-skool are mainly using PHP.

Either is != Microsoft practices :-)

Sam Clark | Feb 08, 2008 | 3:24AM

Meanwhile, Google buys the 'C' block of the 700mgz spectrum and goes into wireless broadband competition with the telecoms - for less than Yahoo costs. Micro$oft again misses the mark as the game moves to another dimension... hope the Microhoo services work on Google's new spectrum...

Dave_Matthews | Feb 08, 2008 | 7:08AM

the captcha thing is really messed up! Bob, try it sometime!!!

Dave_Matthews | Feb 08, 2008 | 7:13AM

Microsoft's goal may very well be to inject some new DNA into their corporate culture, but will it work? I suspect that if the deal goes through, a lot of Yahoo! engineers (specially the smart ones) will jump ship and start working for Google or other companies. Microsoft will be left with the bottom-of-the-barrel employees, and will only continue to sink further. Whoever gets the good employees (i.e. Google and others) will benefit much more.

kats | Feb 08, 2008 | 8:04AM

Best column you've written in a long while.
Makes absolute sense, to the point of being obvious once you've realized it.
This isn't about 4 quarters in the future anymore, browser wars and search engines, this is about 50, 100 years ahead - a legacy.
For those that scoff at the idea that MS wouldn't find it easy to simply acquire all of the other little companies to get that market share - please, MS buys companies like it was in a book of the month club, 8 in 2007, 11 in 2006: http://www.microsoft.com/msft/acquisitions/history.mspx
Good work, Bob.

Jeff Power | Feb 08, 2008 | 9:12AM

What does Bob mean by MS trying to become another GE? Diversifying? What does Yahoo do that MSN hasn't tried yet?

Tying two turkeys together doesn't make an eagle.

Ephile | Feb 08, 2008 | 9:16AM

What we have here at Microsoft is a generational transition like we've seen in many other industries as leading companies go from robber barons to industry stalwarts. Look at railroads and oil in U.S. business history and you'll see the same thing.

That's either a poor analogy, or a very astute one. Oil companies never stopped being regarded as robber barons. People just shifted the blame from Flagler and Rockefeller to Exxon and Shell. Same beast, different head. As for railroads, robber barons or not, they were doomed the minute the interstate highway systems opened up.

Which one applies here?

A Different Brian | Feb 08, 2008 | 10:00AM

The thought that people will jump ship after the aquisition is missing one key point. All these folks probably have non-compete agreements in their contracts. I guarantee that Microsoft will enforce these to the full extent of the law. Sure, some will make a nice chunk of change when they dump their stock after the sale (unless they only have stock options which they haven't excercised), but how many will be able to leave and ride it out until their NCA expires?

Nashvegas | Feb 08, 2008 | 10:04AM

What about a Google/Appler merger as a counter?

Jeff | Feb 08, 2008 | 10:07AM

Ephile:

I think that X means that MSFT is seeking to becoming a mature company (possibly) with multiple and diverse revenue channels a la GE.

kj | Feb 08, 2008 | 10:10AM

I love the Sopranos analogy, very apt!

Matt Clary | Feb 08, 2008 | 10:16AM

i sure hope u read my book at the url

because you are one of the best

by the time this post is read by our good old bill
the book will out of stock

because in it i had mentioned how bill gates was beaten and a copy of it is in the hands of a tv organisation in usa

also cringely

i had published the book some 15 days back and as soon as the tv journos had the book they started to question our m$ guys and then all of a sudden i read that m$ wants to buy yahoo
for i have mentioned bill and google and m$

for i once wanted to be a pirate king

and know i will not be one

cringely -if you liked what you read

purchase the book

and then do what your heart says for the captcha words that i read are date and loving

i listen to my heart

i can feel nature
can you

bye
@runb@laj!-this being the name of the book

arun balaji | Feb 08, 2008 | 10:20AM

Now that Linux has started to penetrate at will the business community, and Foxfire is available on a routine basis, the whole past successes of MS are coming into future question by Wall Street and others.

The key to the success of the acquisition is the access to and acceptance in the international marketplace. Jerry Yang hazarded his company by kowtowing to the People's Republic of China, and a new face has to be put there.

Will the Yahoo culture among its developers, programmers and technicians remain viable after an MS purchase? It can be done, as Jack Welch showed in his acquisitions -- apply a value to creativity as an adjunct to productivity, and look at the bottom line long term. Will the institutional holders of MS believe it. They will set the stock price. Tune in five years from now.

Rentable service delivery and paid adverts are the future revenue stream. That will be the key variable.

Truthful James | Feb 08, 2008 | 10:21AM

I REALLY hope that MS gets Yahoo !

It would be great to see the arrogant MS CHOKE on Yahoo!

Go MS! Go Yahoo! glarg.

William Donelson | Feb 08, 2008 | 10:21AM

word "Netscape" is a verb.

Huh? WTF? Is anyone really going to netscape this weekend?

Steve Dean | Feb 08, 2008 | 10:28AM

Sorry 'bout the repetition, but as Dave Matthews noted, the CAPTCHA is very wonky. It repeatedly told me I had failed and required me to retry with new words. Of course, each time I failed and simply gave up in the end. Of course, it was actually accepting them behind the scenes hence the multiple posts...

Running 3.0.4 on 10.5.1. Hope that helps...

nicolas | Feb 08, 2008 | 10:35AM

Filo and Yang should be gone. Whizz kids have no business in an executive-level position in a company unless they have the business smarts & experience to fulfill the position. Neither of them are perceived within the company as "leaders". Google seems to be an exception with Page & Brin.

Darnell | Feb 08, 2008 | 10:41AM

I like your view on the matter, but competing with Google is more important than you make it. Microsoft has a history of creating an enemy to rally the troops. Any company will do, as long as the threath seems big and real enough. They need Google as a competitor. They need to focus on crushing it, in order for the company to function at the highest level it can. Just like they needed Netscape, WordPerfect, Apple, Novell, IBM, Borland, Lotus, Real, etc. Microsoft needs an enemy to function as a company.

wovawi | Feb 08, 2008 | 10:54AM

The Oz metaphors are nice. In the Oziverse I think Cringely would be Toto: more insight than most, and lippy.

TG | Feb 08, 2008 | 11:02AM

Great insights.

Re: robber barons, Stephen Ambrose has great insights into why the Railroad "tycoons" weren't robbers at all. I recommend reading

"Nothing Like It In the World: The Men Who Built The Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869"
By Stephen Ambrose
Simon & Schuster, $28
ISBN 0684846098

http://www.bookpage.com/0009bp/stephen_ambrose.html provides some out-of-book insights in this interview:

"
"I thought of them as robber barons," says the eminent historian, speaking by phone from his home in Helena, Montana. "I thought they made ungodly profits and then used them in nefarious ways, especially Huntington and Stanford. But I had been taught by men who did their graduate work in the '30s, and they just hated big business." While conceding that the builders did reap huge fortunes, Ambrose now concludes they deserved to. "These guys went deeply in debt," he explains. "They didn't really risk their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, but they damn near did." "

Mike V. | Feb 08, 2008 | 11:15AM

Nothing to say. I just wanted to see what Dave Matthews meant about the captcha.

Pseudonymous | Feb 08, 2008 | 11:19AM

I'm with you as far as MS becoming more like GE. But GE got into all sorts of really diverse products, not just other brands of toasters.

So, why wouldn't MS buy a hotel chain, a Chuck-e-Cheese style amusement company, or (God forbid) something in the health-care sector? Yahoo seems much to close to home to fit your otherwise sensible theory.

I really think this is more like 75 percent about Google and 25 percent about diversification (especially as it isn't all that diverse).

I wouldn't call Ballmer stupid, but he has a brain geared for another game than the one MS is now playing. The sooner he leaves the company the better. Maybe there is room in your story for the scarecrow after all.

Mac Beach | Feb 08, 2008 | 11:23AM

Is GE the model that Micro-Soft wants as it nears middle age? Post Welch, the stock price has not done much of anything despite Imelt's heroic efforts. Does a diverse conglomerate make any sense when investors can create the same thing in the market more cheaply?

The track record for mergers, particularly large ones, is dismall so the odds are not in MS's favor for a happy ending. MS has little relevant acquisition experience.

You do a good job of seeing patterns, but in this case you go to far. My bet is that when the history gets written, you will read about how culture prevented both sides from taking advantage of the opportunities. AOL/T-W might have worked but they could never exploit the benefits because the people couldn't work together.

Love your column!

Read | Feb 08, 2008 | 12:23PM

Acquiring Yahoo! is the big test for Microsoft: did they learn anything from acquiring Hotmail? GE is the closest model, I guess, since they can't follow the Berkshire-Hathaway model (buy a great company and let it keep making money). If Microsoft didn't learn anything from Hotmail, the train wreck will happen sooner rather than later. Either way, as a Yahoo! shareholder, I'm just happy my shares are worth something again.

MTS | Feb 08, 2008 | 12:39PM

You know Bob.......we are still waiting for "Revenge of the Nerds III...."

Does this mean it's time, now?

Eric J. White | Feb 08, 2008 | 12:53PM

I just found this blog on nobosh and I'm happy I did. You should really advertise or get the word out better on your postings. I'm an active blog reader (100) and I've never heard of your postings.

you can thank nobosh.com/

Peter Bradley | Feb 08, 2008 | 1:06PM

"If Microsoft didn't learn anything from Hotmail, the train wreck will happen sooner rather than later"

The lesson of HotMail is that UNIX performs a whole lot better than MSFT's dusty old croft. Think they actually LEARNED that lesson? Nope.

Tom B | Feb 08, 2008 | 1:15PM

So, why wouldn't MS buy a hotel chain, a Chuck-e-Cheese style amusement company, or (God forbid) something in the health-care sector?

Or how about a cable network? That wouldn't make sense at all.

ploeg | Feb 08, 2008 | 1:26PM

Well, like a lot of young Tech Pro's, I grew up with MS-DOS and Windows, was blissfully unaware of any evil MS did until the Netscape Wars, and didn't really care until with Windows XP, when they decided mandatory activation was a good idea. That year I bought my last copy of windows (98SE, even though XP was available, Not counting a laptop which was impossible to buy without XP).

It would be truly wonderful to imagine a time when Microsoft becomes a healthy member of the Tech Ecosystem instead of the synonym for 'evil' it now is.

Still, I think its hard to imagine me wiping Linux off of my machines. Linux is just too much better in the ways that matter to a geek.

Joshua | Feb 08, 2008 | 1:35PM

Speaking as a Yahoo middle manager, I agree with your basic take. Not everything about it, but the overall picture is on target.

L | Feb 08, 2008 | 1:36PM

Well, so much for flickr being a useful service anymore...

Then again, it took them YEARS to kill hotmail's utility, so maybe some Yahoo services will linger on for a while.

Matt | Feb 08, 2008 | 1:44PM

1- More than one post per week from you would be TERRIFIC !! ......
2- Can you elaborate on what you think Mr Softy will aquire?

Fred | Feb 08, 2008 | 1:46PM

Yahoo! is a dying brand/company. Microsoft's purchase will do nothing to build advertising revenues from a joint or separate set of search engines. If Microsoft really wanted to be bold, they would bid on Google itself.

Michael | Feb 08, 2008 | 1:49PM

Let's put an end to the YaSoft/MicroHoo silliness.

The combined cumbersome entity should be referred to as MHoo, and the H is silent.

Chris | Feb 08, 2008 | 2:25PM

The only folks who can rescue MS is Apple Computer(Yeh, I know). The Europeans are set to smash MS for their size/control issues. You think they will let an MS/Yahoo merger go?

Bob Doherty | Feb 08, 2008 | 2:33PM

Yeah, just checking out the "captcha?"

lennie | Feb 08, 2008 | 3:10PM

@michael: I seriously doubt MS could afford Google. That's a very interesting proposition though ...

darkuncle | Feb 08, 2008 | 3:15PM

If Microsoft isn't going after Google, what does that leave for them? Google is doing search, advertising, news feeds, custom portals, online office apps, email, maps, and about anything else you can think of. What does Yahoo add that is not in direct competition with Google? Yahoo Games?

I like the idea of Microsoft becoming a more stable, mature company like GE. But I can't picture how that would play out practically.

Bill | Feb 08, 2008 | 3:19PM

yahoo needs to be brave, and Microsoft needs a heart, lol, who else is missing form oz

Scott | Feb 08, 2008 | 3:30PM

If Microsoft is really hoping that Yahoo will inject fresh DNA into their corporate ranks, they are sadly mistaken. The only fresh DNA in Yahoo is strongly aligned with the open source movement, and we shun proprietary solutions even when they make sense. When open source won't do, we make it ourselves.

History has shown that Microsoft pushes the Microsoft agenda onto its acquisitions. Great Plains was left alone because they were already using Microsoft technologies; but they were told to stop supporting MacOS. Hotmail was an even more radical makeover; nobody believes the Solaris-to-NT transition was sucessful.

Yahoo is mostly LAMP: the servers run BSD or RHEL; the HTTP servers are based on Apache technology; the database is MySQL; and the page template language is PHP because the creator of PHP works for Yahoo. What do you think the chances are of him staying?

An informal survey of my fellow engineers show that most are already planning their exit strategies. The only people who will remain are those that are comfortable with the Microsoft groupthink.

Fresh DNA, indeed.

Anonymous Yahoo | Feb 08, 2008 | 4:03PM

You certainly have an interesting take, and that may certainly be what Microsoft is hoping for, but as others (such as Anonymous Yahoo, 2/8/2008 @ 4:03 PM) have said - they're unlikely to get those people to stay. It does seem odd though that Microsoft's press info on this (as yet others have pointed out) shows they will be laying off Microsofties and pushing all kinds of goodies to keep Yahooligans - so you're probably on the right track.

But, as I point out in my blog entry on this, there is a lot at stake for Microsoft right now - and debt would not be wise for them to take on. Whilst a lot of people think they will get OOXML approved by ISO in one form or another, they can't wait 6 years to do so since ODF will take hold quite strongly by then if that's what they have to do. (There's a reason for their strong-arming OOXML through JTC1 and the fast-track process!) So the company is literally at stake on that front alone.

Add in the challenges of replacing Gates and Ballmer and it becomes yet more difficult. This deal could certainly collapse Microsoft if it goes through - but that all depends on OOXML too. So there really is no easy way to call it.

Needless to say, I think you do have a good theory about this. It's just a matter of could Microsoft pull it off? If it were to even try, it would have to become a true open source company - and that might mean open sourcing Windows and Office to prove it, even if it was with a more restrictive open source license.

A lot at stake. That's certain.

TemporalBeing | Feb 08, 2008 | 5:28PM

I guess you will have to decide whether you will write your column for high tech people or for a low-bred idiot like me. I enjoyed your column today.

Bob Hatch | Feb 08, 2008 | 5:41PM

Dear I, Cringely:

Good stuff but no mention of the Wicked Witch or flying monkeys? I'm disappointed in you! We'll see if the color green figures prominently in the was things turn out in the Microhoo! merger, or if someone throws water on a certain other someone, with resultant melting and screaming.

Anthony Kuhn | Feb 08, 2008 | 5:56PM

The big problem I see with this is that, simply, the cleverest Yahoo workers I know aren't going to want to work for Microsoft. They were leery of even working for Yahoo.

I think the net effect of this whole thing is going to be much smaller than people are predicting right now.

Phil Nelson | Feb 08, 2008 | 6:26PM

The assumption made again and again that a small number of companies will dominate media on the internet is fundamentally wrong. I've been saying this from the beginning and everyone disagrees with me but I've been right. First off the early companies like Broadcast.com didn't even last long. The only thing significant about them is their stock price which was way out of line. Yahooo and is better. What has actually happened is every few years we get a new darling, MySpace, UTube, Facebook. You can expect another one to pop up every year or two. Yahoo was sinking because it's darling days are over and merging with Microsoft is hardly going to help. All of these companies have way more hype than reality. None of them have the influence on the web that CBS, NBC or ABC or even PBS had on TV. Certainly none of them have the power that Microsoft had over the PC market. Possibly Microsoft or Google could buy up every darling that comes along but this is no different then buying every darling dot.com stock. The internet is different than any other medium because there is no technical limit on the number of sites you can have. In TV it was three. In cable it was more but still limited. There will be a neverending number of new websites and new sites will become major sites on a regular basis. Of course, this doesn't mean investors in new sites have it easy. I can tell you the names of a couple companies that tried to do what UTube does some years ago, LineUp, Firstlook. I worked at both of them and there's no trace left they ever existed even though they spent as much as $100 million. LineUp had significant backing from Global Crossing veterans and Firstlook was backed by Intel, Kliener Perkins plus it was part of Idealab. If anything the internet resembles the nightclub business. Clubs and websites come and go from hot to cold. Of course, the internet is more than just website, and companies like Google or Microsoft can succeed providing technology but this is even harder to predict than media. Did anyone see Microsoft or Google coming? I worked in building website myself and have no idea where it's headed. Do tech people make money building websites anymore? Do companies make money hosting websites? I get offers to host for free practically. Hardware expensese are difficult to recoop. Software is offshored and automated. Microsoft buying Yahoo is like Tom Cruise marrying Katie Holmes more than any Oz comparison. You can be sure Tome Cruise has an ironclad prenep, which Microsoft is not going to get.

frank P | Feb 08, 2008 | 6:46PM

Would it be like when Apple bought NeXT, only to be forcibly taken over by the NeXT executives?

Apple is now selling the successor to NeXT OS as their operating system, using the successor to NeXTSTEP as their programming libraries, etc. They forcibly changed their own culture.

Mel | Feb 08, 2008 | 6:56PM

We're in a recession - so Microsoft takes on debt at the top and buys another big company.

Smart, Bill.

And anybody who thinks Microsoft is going to be GE and be around another fifty years is smoking crack or under severe ketamine addiction. Microsoft won't make it another twenty, no matter what they do - including a coup on the White House (they already tried that - the EU wasn't buying.)

Microsoft will buy Yahoo (the DoJ caring? Hey, they waterboard people!), Yahoo will go into the toilet because Microsoft has no clue about the Internet, and the end result will be exactly like Hotmail - people trying to bail out and go open source with Thunderbird (which, BTW, is a PITA because it's hard to get your email out of Hotmail.)

Sure, the end result will be bigger Microsoft/Yahoo conglomerate. Microhoo will bumble along as usual, releasing another crap OS in five years, and falling behind in search and online advertising.

Meanwhile, that portion of the world with a brain will continue to not use either Microsoft technologies OR Yahoo technologies. Which is why nobody will care if Yahoo stops working on Linux or Mac. Anybody smart enough to use Linux or Mac doesn't use Yahoo anyway.

Richard Steven Hack | Feb 08, 2008 | 9:11PM

I think Yahoo use open source LAMP or similar stuff, If they leave Yahoo to carry on with it are they admitting it is better than the M$ stuff that needs paying for?

Kevin Reilly | Feb 08, 2008 | 10:39PM

@Nashvegas: In California, non-compete clauses in employment contracts are non-enforceable. So there is no barrier to Yahoo people jumping directly to Google, should they want to do so.

At least no barrier for the Yahoo people working in California. I don't know what fraction of the developers are there, but since the headquarters is there, I imagine it is a significant fraction.

Californian | Feb 09, 2008 | 4:03AM

"Ironically, what the company needs now is another Mark Cuban."

The last thing Yahoo needs is a lying con man.

James King | Feb 09, 2008 | 4:28AM

i can't imagine this merger is going to do anything positive for the Zimbra collaboration suite, a direct exchange competitor.

BiL Castine | Feb 09, 2008 | 8:35AM

everyone will leave yahoo, that's all. opportunity aplenty in silicon valley. no one there has to work for Microsoft.

nik | Feb 09, 2008 | 12:11PM

"Yahoo will give in, the Bush Administration will rubber-stamp this pact in record time, and these dysfunctional corporate characters will be off, together, down that yellow brick road."

No, they won't. Bush can rubber stamp all the corporate mergers he likes like the monkey he is but you are totally ignoring the European Union. You know, the folks who made Microsoft remove Windows Media Player of all things from Windows XP before they were allowed to continue selling it in Europe.

For that one reason alone I will believe this deal when I see it.

Chris | Feb 09, 2008 | 2:40PM

According to Yahoo Finance, the market cap of Microsoft is $283 billion, while the market cap of GE is $340 billion. Notwithstanding the very different businesses of the two corporations, I don't think it's safe to say that after Microsoft acquires Yahoo, a further $100 billion of debt assumption will be needed to, as you describe it, make Microsoft impervious to tech market vicissitudes.
I think it's just as reductive for me to go by market cap numbers as it is for you to speak in terms of business health as a factor of sheer size, at this scale. Aren't we saying the same thing?

Ian Wentzell | Feb 09, 2008 | 3:04PM

looks like your analysis is wrong again... I really question why I even read this drivel anymore

Yahoo Board to Reject Takeover Bid From Microsoft

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/09/technology/09cnd-yahoo.html?hp

david | Feb 09, 2008 | 3:42PM

Read the article, David. This rejection is expressly quibbling about price, like Cringely said. Yahoo is demanding a premium for its stock, a level that Yahoo's stock has not seen for years. Yahoo might get a little more for the deal, but not much more. Yahoo's got nuthin'.

ploeg | Feb 09, 2008 | 4:42PM

HP Compaq merger take two!!

This merger will be as brilliantly successful as that one. We can only hope that when the dust clears Ballmer will be bowing out in much the same way that Fiorina did...

jason | Feb 09, 2008 | 5:10PM

What if msft wants copy apple again?

Where else could they get that much BSD experience?

And the captcha stuff is seriously broken...I'm a human, but it *still* won't let this go thru...

gronk | Feb 09, 2008 | 6:01PM

The world can do without Microsoft. We can standardize on other operating systems and word processors. Slowly perhaps, but surely.


The world needs search engines, but many companies can provide that.


The actual content, the technical products that Yahoo can provide to MS, can be built by MS more cheaply. Buying Yahoo would be an illustration of having more money than sense. The Brand Name is not worth tens of billions of dollars. Microsoft will devolve into Micro-who?

FredW | Feb 10, 2008 | 8:29AM

The Yahoo Marketing Service (formerly Overture) is broken and is much more complicated to use than Google Adwords. As much as one would not like to put our advertising eggs in one basket and as much as one would like to steer away from link farms, there is not much of a choice. Or you spend hours trying to understand how your ads are going with Yahoo or you do it in minutes with Google. More than MS, they need help in making their apps more user-friendly.

As for Yahoo! mail, it works just fine, thank you.

Tomas Sancio | Feb 10, 2008 | 8:54AM


Bob,

One other thing about Mark Cuban you forgot to mention. He not only sold his bazillions in Yahoo stock, but he turned right around and used that money to go short tech for several years and make another bazillion dollars. Smart, smart man. He did the exact opposite of what every human emotion would have told him to do in both cases.

As for Yang and Filo, I recall that their combined Yahoo holdings were worth around 21 billion and 18 billion, respectively, at the top of the bubble. It seems Yang has a problem with being able to sell at any price. I guess they all thought they'd be Bill Jr's, thinking those valuations would persist.

SteveH | Feb 10, 2008 | 10:14AM

Let's see, Microsoft makes it look like they want to buy Yahoo, causing Yahoo's best employees to start looking for jobs elsewhere, but offers less per share than they know the board (who will be looking for big exit money) will be willing to accept unless forced. Microsoft gets to hurt them for free, and maybe even fake Google into an unneccessarily expensive purchase.

unitron | Feb 10, 2008 | 7:53PM

When I heard of this deal, my first thought was, "darn - I've had a yahoo.com email since 1996 and now I'll have to change it." I'll probably go with another webmail provider, not gmail, by the way.

tony | Feb 10, 2008 | 8:53PM

And another point about Mark Cuban: He used to be a pundit and write a column, just like Bob Cringely.

Rick | Feb 11, 2008 | 11:37AM

And Cuban now wrotes a blog, like Cringely http://www.blogmaverick.com/

And to clarify SteveH, Cuban didn't short the tech market, he sold put options agains all the Yahoo stick he got for selling Brodacast.com. While the effect is the same (you make money when the stock goes down), the technique is less risky (especially when you own a lot of a stock you think is overvalued, and can't sell)

Danny Lawrence | Feb 11, 2008 | 11:51AM

yes, many of the best and smartest people are not likely to stick around the combined behemoth, but they won't necessarily join Google; they'll be in a great position to start to entrepreneurial ventures - many amazing new companies will spring up as a result

ssent1 | Feb 11, 2008 | 3:44PM

So I guess as soon as you hit SEND this time, they turned down the deal?... hehe.

FM | Feb 11, 2008 | 3:51PM

Please, please fix the problem with triple (and now quadruple!) duplicate posts. For a bunch of nerds, your readers have a really hard time hitting submit only once.

Also, please get the nerds at PBS to fix the HTML on this page: The right hand column is screwy (see the far right hand side of the bottom of the page).

Mark S | Feb 12, 2008 | 10:14AM

Umm, seriously guys, have you actually seen what yahoo are working on publicly, and have any inkling of what they have on the horizon?

Ok spell it out for you loud and clear:

THE BROWSER IS THE SOFTWARE PLATFORM OF CHOICE

GOOGLE OWN MICROSOFT'S HOME TERRITORY; OFFICE TASKS


Google bought Writely. Very very important move that. They own literacy on the web. It's got features like MS Word 5, which was the best one anyway, and it'll only get better and better.

The future is thin client. As client web connections move to gigabit speed, the option of not owning your own hardware, and having it managed well for you will lower costs, and build usability.

Yahoo have some really really cool stuff for thin client behaviour, and for building sites/apps around their services.

Yahoo do the services, they own the services, they make the services, and their services are great. That's why MS want them.

What do you think they've got cooking in the basement? Software. That's what. Massively multi user service oriented apps. Flickr was just the tip of its iceberg.

And as broadband access speeds cease to be trivial, so will the potential of those services, and so will the commercial viability of charging for them. Additionally, you can expect that whoever is running the thin client systems will find their overheads rather manageable, and scalable to millions and millions of customers.

Yahoo are great. They're fine. Flickr is great. Del.icio.us is great. Their UI components are great. Their labs are amazing. Their supercomputing clusters are great. And pipes is outlandishly cool.

da bishop | Feb 12, 2008 | 4:48PM

Search engines, and analytics, and mergers, oh my!

I only hope that when all of this comes through, that the consumers will be smart enough to take off their green glasses and see the combined company for what it is.

Simply acquiring a new company, and putting on a new face is not likely to change the nature of the beast, just make it bigger.

I guess it'll be okay, so long as they're not randomly asking young girls to go out witch hunting.

Take care bob!

Jericho Matt Bloom | Feb 13, 2008 | 2:24PM

I have read tons of articles regarding this groundbreaking merger, but none have been as interesting as this post. It provides an interesting spin on the topic - the fact that the true winner may in fact by Google - a prospect that most people have overlooked. Yet, on the other hand, if Microsoft is able to pull this all off successfully we may actually see a rival to Google step up to the plate.

Mike Mothner | Feb 14, 2008 | 3:17PM

Though I don't doubt Microsoft would like to be in the same position as GE, I don't see how they can pull that off with what they're doing.

With Vista faltering, Microsoft's core business (the desktop) is facing a bigger challenge to its hegemony than it has in a very long time. Maybe ever. (Ubuntu is looking tastier every day, especially now that it can run Photoshop CS2.)

And yet they choose this moment to go after Google? Am I wrong, or is software still an industry where a few geeks in a rented office with a really good idea can obsolete your entire empire?

All of Microsoft's power comes from it's near-monopoly on the desktop and the office suite leveraged off of that, not from MSN or the other free side-projects they kick around. If they're going to survive in any form they should be using their influence and money to mend the blight on their reputation caused by Vista, not tilting at the Google windmill.

Clancy | Feb 15, 2008 | 4:24AM

While I agree with the last comment that Vista is faltering, the posters comment that "Ubuntu is looking better and better" is a joke. The linux desktop is still miles away from the kind of usability that the average consumer demands. I know ... I'm a linux convert, trying to make it work. Thus far, the only way I actually CAN make is work is to run a virtualization product to launch windows for the specific things.

pvl | Feb 18, 2008 | 8:54AM