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Search Biz: Yahoo Morale OK, Musical Chairs At Google, Microsoft, Marc Andreessen Joins Facebook Board, & Tech Giants Fight “Patent Trolls”
Lots of action for SearchBiz today; let’s start with Yahoo. Fortune reprints a purported Yahoo employee email that is very upbeat and flies in the face of the gloom and doom analysis going on in the blogs. Meanwhile, TechCrunch reports on another executive loss at the company, while Carl “proxy fight” Icahn uses his blog to officially say nothing about Yahoo and the upcoming fight for control of the Yahoo board.
Yahoo for its part is lobbying shareholders to retain its current slate of directors, who Icahn wants to replace. Yahoo says that Icahn has no plan to run the company. Indeed, his plan is to try and coax Microsoft back to the bargaining table to acquire some or all of Yahoo.
Microsoft appears to be coaxing some employees from Google or back from Google in an emerging game of developer musical chairs. Carnage4Life offers a kind of roundup of blog comments and posts from some who’ve left Google for Redmond. And developer Sergey Solyanik blogs about his perceptions of the good and the bad at Google and why he returned to Microsoft:
So why did I leave?
There are many things about Google that are not great, and merit improvement. There are plenty of silly politics, underperformance, inefficiencies and ineffectiveness, and things that are plain stupid. I will not write about these things here because they are immaterial. I did not leave because of them. No company has achieved the status of the perfect workplace, and no one ever will.
I left because Microsoft turned out to be the right place for me.
Even if G and M are poaching employees from one another, one area on which the tech giants presumably can agree is the value of IP and avoiding IP-related litigation. The Wall Street Journal discusses a new initiative by prominent tech firms to cooperatively combat what are known in the industry as “patent trolls,” firms set up specifically to buy and/or litigate patents:
Their plan: to buy up key intellectual property before it falls into the hands of parties that could use it against them, say people familiar with the matter.
The new Allied Security Trust aims to buy patents that others might use to bring infringement claims against its members. Companies will pay roughly $250,000 to join the group and will each put about $5 million into escrow with the organization, to go toward future patent purchases, the people familiar with the initiative said.
There’s a pre-existing similar effort called Intellectual Ventures already in place, in which Microsoft is a stakeholder. However, these IP sale/prosecution firms see themselves as Davids, vindicating the rights of smaller companies and inventors against the tech Goliaths that otherwise would freely infringe with impunity.
Somewhere between David and Goliath is Facebook, which is reportedly adding Netscape founder and Ning Chairman Marc Andreessen to the board. Andreessen and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg are apparently friends. Once a wunderkind himself, Andreessen is now something of an Obi-Wan to Zuckerberg’s Luke Skywalker. Indeed, Facebook now needs some direction despite its rapid climb to the top of the social networking heap. As evidence, rumor has it that at least one current shareholder is looking to unload millions of dollars in Facebook stock at a valuation far, far less than the reported $15 billion.
And speaking of monetizing social networks, LinkedIn has launched a CPM program called DirectAds that apparently mimics much of Facebook’s SocialAds approach. The company also launched the LinkedIn Research Network, targeting fund managers and investment professionals that pay large sums to companies such as Gerson Lehrman Group. Incentives to participate among LinkedIn members, however, aren’t provided at this point.