Live Blogging Microsoft’s Bid For Yahoo Call

Microsoft Yahoo

The Microsoft conference call on the Yahoo bid is happening now. I’ll live blog rough notes. Greg Sterling will do a formal write-up later.

Steve Ballmer

  • Had conversations over past 18 months.
  • Called Jerry Yang to discuss yesterday

Kevin Johnson

  • Online advertising is growing
  • Scale economics helps
  • Technology matters in the space
  • Because of both, there’s consolidation
  • One player dominates (Google; he doesn’t say that)
  • Combining will give a more "credible" competitor
  • Combining talent pools, two search indexes, two ad platforms
  • Will enhance user experiences, innovation, better value for customers (see FTC, consumers win!)
  • Combining search and non-search in a single platform will improve revenues, make life easier for everyone
  • Pluses in eliminating redundant jobs and efforts, the fourth synergy in all this
  • Have a clear integration plan (can’t wait to hear it)
  • Based on success integrating aQuantive and TellMe (neither of which approach an integration of the size of Yahoo)

Ray Ozzie

  • Portals led the way (think he said that, and if so, they didn’t)
  • Search becomes important
  • Search will grow past 10 blue links (thank Ask’s Jim Lanzone for popularizing this notion)
  • Natural language will come (yeah, right)
  • Yahoo has great community assets, combined with Microsoft productivity apps and devices, things will be great
  • So excited!

Chris Liddell

  • Restates offer terms, says second half of 2008, hope to close
  • Real opportunity is long term values

Questions

  • To Ballmer, why this after aQuantive. No consumer face to that. No better way to increase scale and capacity than this.
     
  • Johnson reiterates that scale matters, you can ramp up ads if search, non-search, behavioral all on the same platform.
     
  • What makes this a more competitive offer than other potential media buyers that might be out there? Liddell: believe it’s an attractive one. Brad Smith says that since Google has 75 percent marketshare worldwide on paid search, they aren’t in a position to do this, anti-trust laws would prevent them.
     
  • How do you stop Yahoo from losing marketshare, asks analyst (dude, Yahoo isn’t — Microsoft is). Kevin comes back to combining engineering to be more efficient and drive core relevancy (which Yahoo is already competitive with in terms of Google, so that’s not a convincing answer).
     
  • Why not expand R&D rather than integrate two companies with different cultures? Is that risk accounted for. Ballmer — nothing like putting together two larger sophisticated R&D operations (or a nightmare). "It should be quite an accelerant." (or a hindrance, could go either way).
     
  • Hoping I’ll get to ask which brand will survive in search, which ad platform will make it, and more actual details on this plan. Damn, last question.
     
  • Ah, asked about existing brands. The Yahoo brand is a great brand. We love the Yahoo brand. They want to have clear integration principals and leaders from both company and lots of synergy (and corporate feel good talk). Ballmer: the Windows user wants to be live. There will be a Windows Live (’cause the demand has proven how much that’s been demanded so far, not). We have some thoughts… but a team from both companies would be best to assess that.

End of call.

Bottom line. There’s a plan Microsoft has in mind, but it sounds like it has to be developed a lot more, especially when Microsoft itself says it doesn’t have answers until it works with Yahoo. Frankly, this sounds far from an easy win for Microsoft, especially after having now put Yahoo into play, there are good arguments it could stay a strong company and not suffer brand confusion. But there are compelling reason, obviously, why the two combined would be the best challenger to Google.

For more on the Microsoft bid for Yahoo, also see our other coverage:

Also see discussion from across the web on Blogrunner and Techmeme.

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Microsoft & Yahoo Search Deal | Microsoft: Business Issues

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About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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