Today in Search Biz: News Corp isn’t throwing Yahoo a life preserver to fend off Microsoft. Ask loses a (small) paid search partner and gets competition for those women it now says it’s not really that focused on (sort of). Google’s stock hits a new low, but will it plunge below $400? Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg says maybe Facebook was "ahead of itself" in calling its ads so revolutionary — but you might have missed that in the hoo-ha over the interviewer’s style at SXSW. And no, Digg’s not selling itself to Google or Microsoft.
Let’s lead off with Microhoo news. News Corp will not fight Microsoft for Yahoo| Deals| Mergers from Reuters has News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch seeming to put a final nail in the coffin of any speculation that News Corp might do something — anything! — to help Yahoo’s fight to stay independent of Microsoft. Said Murdoch:
"We’re not going to get into a fight with Microsoft, which has a lot more money than us," Murdoch told investors at the annual Bear Stearns media conference.
Seems kind of old news. Way back when the news first came out, News Corp was counted out of helping Yahoo. However, there had been increased speculation of some type of deal involving News Corp-owned, Google ad-powered MySpace.
From the Financial Times, Microsoft wary on Yahoo integration quotes Microsoft chief software architect Ray Ozzie as saying Microsoft will take its time before killing off all of Yahoo’s technology, if it gets to buy the Big Y. Heh. No, he said there would be no rush until the technologies on both sides were fully assessed:
“Technology companies, if they dive in and just smash things together for smashing them together’s sake, it’s reckless, it’s just simply reckless,” said Ray Ozzie, who took on the company’s top software technology role from Bill Gates in 2006.
Again, kind of old news. I mean, Microsoft said the day of its announcement that it was making no decisions over which products, services, or technologies would "win" in a merger. I guess the new thing is spelling out that it will take its time to do this, even in a heated competitive race against Google.
Over at Ask.com, things are looking kind of gloomy. News that Ask was bailing on targeting all types of searchers with its search engine in favor of married women didn’t exactly go over that well with the supposed westcoasteliterati. Whoops! After wiping off a couple billion from being the potential number three search engine in a Google-Microsoft world, Ask started backtracking (yes, Rafat — I agree, it did feel like backtracking when it wasn’t just AP that came away with this view).
Next, Microsoft steals Ask’s "little engine that could" line (telling Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer to give it back or they’d throw a chair didn’t seem to work). Then Yahoo’s New Appeal to Women from BusinessWeek covers how Yahoo’s going to get in on the women’s site game that Ask said would be their key distinguishing feature, that is when they weren’t denying that they were about to become a woman’s site. Could it get any worse?
Well, how about being dumped by a search engine with even less traffic (much, much less) than Ask itself? Hakia announced it was breaking up with Ask as an ad partner, promising its own in-house solution to come. To top it off, the fight to control Ask.com parent IAC begins this week and is expected to be resolved quickly. Barry Diller To IAC Troops On Eve Of Court Fight With Liberty Media from paidContent.org has a memo from IAC head Barry Diller telling the troops to try and ignore press coverage of who is winning and losing, though he admits: "I will try as well but probably fail." That’s fail to ignore the news, not probably fail to win the case! Liberty’s Malone: Diller ran IAC as if he owned it from Reuters covers the first testimony in the case today.
How about things with the Big G? Google shares could fall another 20 percent from Reuters and Google Below $350??? Easy from Silicon Alley Insider aren’t exactly cheery news to be hearing. And with the stock at around $420 right now — the lowest point in about 18 months — will it be a self-fulfilling prophecy?
If the stock price isn’t secure, at least you know your data is. How Google keeps your information secure from the Official Google Blog is a quick heads-up on ways Google says it keeps data safe. Of course, the last time Google did a post like this, the Official Google Blog got hacked. OK, what happened was that Google deleted its own blog by mistake, which allowed someone to take control of its name. Other Google blogs have had related security issues, and Google was sending out scary SSL errors recently. See our Google: Security archives to links to stories about those issues and a few others.
We’ll segue from Google to Facebook via Sheryl Sandberg, the long-time Google VP who did her own segue to Facebook to become its new COO last week. (Almost) New Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg Speaks! at AllThingsD has Kara Swisher talking to Sandberg about why she made the move.
Sandberg said she was already looking for a new challenge and when she came back from maternity leave, found David Fischer (who now has her position at Google) had things well in hand:
“I was not looking in a big way, but I was seeking a new challenge either internally or externally after six years at Google building the online sales team"….
“The team was in great shape and I felt like it was time for change for me,” she said.
I think the key thing here is Sandberg saying she wanted a challenge "internally or externally." Thus, there wasn’t as compelling an option at Google. Hey, it’s hard to find something that would seem as exciting as building a start-up many think could rival Google, if you’re an exec looking to prove yourself out from under the Google shadow. But that also seems a problem for Google. It long since passed being the little start-up that could — and losing experienced vets plus attracting new talent is going to be tougher going forward.
Meanwhile, bloggers are still debating whether BusinessWeek’s Sarah Lacy lost the plot when interviewing Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg at SXSW yesterday (personally, Lacy lost me a bit way back when she used Alexa data to judge Digg’s popularity and help assign a then $60 million valuation to it in a cover story. Alexa, really?).
Debate the presentation style and if the audience cared, if you want. Facebook CEO Admits Missteps from BusinessWeek unsurprisingly skips past those issues. Probably most interesting? That whole idea that Facebook’s ads introduced late last year were part of a 100 year media revolution? "We probably got a little bit ahead of ourselves," said Zuckerberg. And maybe $15 billion is a bit high for Facebook to be valued at, plus the company is running around break even. Read the live blogging from Valleywag here.
By the way, how about that IPO? Not something Zuckerberg says Facebook is focused on. But he also says they just passed the 500 employees mark, so I say again, it’s nearing IPO time. See Facebook To IPO In 2008 (It’ll Have To) on how SEC rules may force this on Facebook, just like they did on Google.
Let’s close with Digg. Rumors that Google or Microsoft want to buy them? Not true, says Digg, officially, and “Not true” says AllThingsD — it’s stemming from bankers that are serving to filter regular interest in buying the company.