Micro-Hoo: The Details Emerge With SEC Filing

First to pounce on the SEC 8-K filing by Yahoo was PaidContent, which provides an extensive bulleted list of many of the deal terms not revealed last week during the frenzy of conference calls and articles that followed the official announcement of the Microsoft-Yahoo search deal. CNET also writes about selected aspects of the deal contained in the filing, specifically an “escape clause” (termination) for Yahoo (see below). And the AP has a short piece on how the deal terms require Microsoft to hire at least 400 Yahoo employees.

Here are some verbatim excerpts from the SEC filing:

Negotiation and Execution of the Definitive Agreements

Pursuant to the terms of the Letter Agreement, the parties will negotiate and execute the Definitive Agreements as soon as practicable but in any event by October 27, 2009 (the “Negotiation Period”). If the Definitive Agreements are not executed during the Negotiation Period, the parties will submit any disputes regarding the final terms of the Definitive Agreements to an arbitration panel.

Conditions to Commencement and Termination Prior to Commencement

Prior to the Commencement Date, the Letter Agreement and Definitive Agreements may be terminated only by (a) mutual consent, (b) if a breach renders a condition incapable of being satisfied by the Termination Date (as defined below), or (c) if the conditions to commencement have not been satisfied by July 29, 2010 (the “Termination Date”); provided that Yahoo!, in its sole discretion, has the right to extend the Termination Date by six (6) months if the required antitrust approvals have not yet been obtained.

Search and Advertising Services and Sales Agreement

For a period of ten (10) years beginning on the Commencement Date (the “Term”), Microsoft will be Yahoo!’s exclusive technology provider for algorithmic and paid search services and Microsoft will provide contextual advertising to Yahoo! on a non-exclusive basis. Yahoo! will be the exclusive worldwide relationship sales force for Yahoo!’s and Microsoft’s premium search advertisers.

The services provided by Microsoft under the Search Agreement will be provided on all web sites, applications and other online digital properties owned or operated by or on behalf of (a) Yahoo!, Yahoo! subsidiaries and Yahoo! joint venture relationships, as well as on software applications developed or distributed by Yahoo! or Yahoo! subsidiaries that provide access to or enable algorithmic search services or paid search services (“Yahoo! Properties”) and (b) Yahoo! Syndication Partners (as defined below), as well as software applications developed or distributed by Yahoo!’s Syndication Partners that provide access to or enable algorithmic search services or paid search services from Yahoo! (“Syndication Properties”). “Syndication Partner” means a third party with whom Yahoo! has contracted to provide algorithmic search services or paid search services.

Subject to certain specified restrictions, Yahoo! will have full flexibility with respect to the user experience, content and look and feel on all of its web pages, and will also be entitled to use the paid search services and algorithmic search services for non-internet search queries with minimal restriction . . .

Microsoft’s mapping services and mobile search services. Yahoo! may implement each of the mapping services and the mobile search services on a non-exclusive or an exclusive basis. Yahoo! also has the option to work with Microsoft to implement the services on other platforms. If Yahoo! elects to receive services for other platforms, it must receive such services on an exclusive basis.

Revenue Share Payments and Other Payments

During the first five years of the Term, Yahoo! will be entitled to receive 88% of the net revenues generated from Microsoft’s services on Yahoo! Properties (the “Revenue Share Rate”). Yahoo! will also be entitled to receive its share (at the Revenue Share Rate) of the net revenues generated on Syndication Properties after the Syndication Partner’s share of net revenues is deducted. For new Syndication Properties during the Term, and for all Syndication Properties after the first five years of the Term, Yahoo! will receive its share (at the Revenue Share Rate) of the net revenues generated from Microsoft’s services on Syndication Properties after the Syndication Partner’s share of net revenues and certain Microsoft costs are deducted.

On the fifth anniversary of the Commencement Date, Microsoft will have the option to terminate Yahoo!’s sales exclusivity for premium search advertisers. If Microsoft exercises its option, the Revenue Share Rate will increase to 93% for the remainder of the Term, unless Yahoo! exercises its option to retain its sales exclusivity, in which case the Revenue Share Rate would be reduced to 83% for the remainder of the Term. If Microsoft does not exercise such option, the Revenue Share Rate will be 90% for the remainder of the Term.

Microsoft will also pay Yahoo! a payment of $50 million annually during the first three (3) years of the Search Agreement. Yahoo! may use these payments to partially cover transition and implementation costs not otherwise covered under the Search Agreement.

Termination Provisions

Yahoo! may terminate the Search Agreement if the trailing 12-month average of the RPS in the United States (the “U.S. RPS”) of Yahoo! and Microsoft’s combined queries falls below a specified percentage of Google Inc.’s (“Google”) estimated RPS measured on a comparable basis or if the combined Yahoo! and Microsoft query market share in the United States falls below a specified percentage; (d) on the fifth anniversary of the Search Agreement, and any time thereafter, Yahoo! has the right to terminate the Search Agreement if the trailing 12-month average of Yahoo!’s U.S. RPS is less than a specified percentage of Google’s estimated RPS; or (e) subject to exceptions, either party may terminate if a law, regulation or order would have a significant, adverse impact on a primary aspect of such party’s intended benefit of the Search Agreement.

Transition and Implementation Plan

Microsoft will hire not less than 400 Yahoo! employees (the “Transferred Employees”) and will offer the Transferred Employees market competitive compensation packages. In addition, Yahoo! and Microsoft will mutually agree on a retention plan to be paid for by Microsoft to assist in retaining the Transferred Employees and an additional 150 Yahoo! employees to be mutually agreed upon between Microsoft and Yahoo! to assist with providing the transition services.

The deal seems broader than the “web, image and video” search scope we heard before. Yahoo can terminate the deal if certain targets aren’t meet surrounding revenue per search, benchmarked to Google. At the five year mark the parties can change who runs “premium sales.” The rev share percentages change accordingly.

On a related note, there’s an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal that argues these terms give Redmond a bigger win than Yahoo in Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s “win-win” scenario but that, in the larger scheme of things, Google may have already won the game:

The deal is a clear win for Microsoft and a qualified win for Yahoo. The big question is whether it makes any difference in the only contest that really matters, which is the one with Google. The risk for both Microsoft and Yahoo is that the contest is already over. Second place won’t really matter, especially as the competition shifts to Microsoft’s home turf: operating systems.

Related coverage:

Related Topics: Business Issues: Acquisitions & Investments | Channel: SEM | Features: Analysis | Google: Business Issues | Microsoft & Yahoo Search Deal | Microsoft: Bing Ads | Microsoft: Business Issues | Microsoft: Employees | Microsoft: General | Search Ads: Contextual | Search Ads: General | Search Ads: Mobile Search | Top News

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • http://searchmarketingcommunications.com Tim Cohn

    How perceptive of Mr. Stewart and the Wall Street Journal.

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com nickstamoulis

    Thanks for reporting this info…The thing that caught my eye was the $50 million in cash that Yahoo! will receive from Microsoft each year for the first 3 years…interesting…I wonder if they included this because of the recession…

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