I was reminded by CNET that it was exactly a year ago when Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made his bold, unsolicited bid for Yahoo. It seems like a lifetime ago, certainly for the economy it is. CNET’s Stephen Shankland speculates about what might have been if the offer had been accepted by Yahoo rather than resisted.
It’s a “on the one hand, on the other hand” sort of analysis, but interesting to consider how deeply the ranks of Yahoo would have been cut and how many of its initiatives subsumed had the deal happened. It’s also interesting to contemplate how much the Yahoo brand and search assets would have helped Microsoft — undoubtedly they would have.
New Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz has indicated that she will consider a Microsoft deal but that she’s in no rush to do one.
Speaking of comments from Carol Bartz, MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe responded to Bartz’s off-the-cuff remark on the most recent Yahoo earnings call about “finicky” social networking users and the assertion that Facebook had now taken over from MySpace as the leading social network (which is true globally). TechCrunch has a brief interview (and video) with DeWolfe. (But those looking for “red meat” won’t find it; DeWolfe is gracious to Bartz.)
In other Yahoo news, the company is reportedly discontinuing its “Yahoo Briefcase” online storage service, even as the rumored GDrive online storage service from Google appears to be readying or launch. Microsoft offers Skydrive as part of its Windows Live suite of online services. There are a number of third party services as well (e.g., Box.net). AOL shuttered its XDrive online storage service awhile ago.
The closure of Briefcase (or XDrive) illustrates one of the potential problems with “cloud computing” and netbook reliance on internet-based services. Users have to be able to count on these services and their continued existence. Otherwise, no one will trust that they can rely on them and won’t use them. Lack of usage is what’s causing them to close.
Back to social networking: Facebook is hiring a lot of salespeople according to Silicon Alley Insider’s posting of a number of Facebook job openings at various locations. As a general matter, Facebook ad revenues are lagging way behind consumer usage growth. I suspect that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg may be driving this initiative. Even though self-service “made” Google, they still recognized the critical importance of sales and customer service for larger agency and advertiser accounts.
Now back again to Yahoo: according to AllThingsD, former Yahoo media chief Scott Moore (looking like a younger Mickey Rourke in the picture) is going back to Microsoft to head up its US-based content initiatives. Formerly Moore was publisher of MSNBC and Slate (which is now owned by the Washington Post).
Moore isn’t the only one Microsoft is hiring. The company will keep hiring in “key areas” according to comments made by Steve Ballmer on the recent Microsoft earnings call and reported at TechFlash. Search is one of those key areas:
“We’re going to continue to invest in important areas of opportunity for the company,” Ballmer said. “So even while we take out up to 5,000 jobs, we will also be adding a few thousand jobs back in the areas like search, where we continue to see incredible opportunity to do good work.”
That brings us back to where we started, a Yahoo-Microsoft deal. It’s probably unlikely but if Microsoft is able to buy the Yahoo search business it probably won’t need to make all those hires.