If the Microsoft acquisition of Yahoo does happen, the “postmortems” on Yahoo will come fast and furious. Perhaps the first of these is from the Mercury News, which recounts the history of Google and Yahoo’s early relationship and how the latter essentially “made” Google, which went on to become its most formidable competitor. The piece indirectly argues that Yahoo’s failure to recognize Google as a threat — despite Yahoo CEO Terry Semel’s unsuccessful early attempt to buy it — is partly responsible for the company’s predicament today.
The article also argues, with interviews of many former Yahoo executives, that the company had several important missteps along the way. It’s easy in retrospect to see the things that Yahoo might have done. But if the company were more ruthless, the article suggests, it would never have adopted Google as its search engine in the first place. And Google might not have risen to become the juggernaut that it is today.
That term used to be reserved almost exclusively for Microsoft, as in “Redmond juggernaut.” But now it applies to Google equally in different respects.
Speaking of which, in anticipation of the likely coming of the search “duopoloy,” Portfolio Magazine interviews Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt on competing against MicroHoo and his sense of how it might affect the broader Internet:
Why does a merged Microsoft-Yahoo pose such a threat to Google? It’s an unstable situation. But the theoretical issue is the concentration of Microsoft’s resources and its history, combined with the very large share that it would have in certain applications—like instant messaging and email—that could be used essentially to break the internet and diminish choice.
Break the internet? All internet-based systems today are highly interoperable, open systems. The whole antitrust trial that Microsoft went through was really about it breaking that.
While it’s still possible that an alternative to Microsoft’s bid might emerge (via AOL) at the 11th hour, it’s quite unlikely at this point. In recognition of that, Yahoo and Microsoft met last week for the first time to informally discuss and explore the merger opportunity.