Microsoft Won’t Acquire Yahoo!

To put it in a few other ways:

  • Ballmer backs off, writes to Yang that “clearly a deal in not to be.”
  • Yahoo can stop worrying about Microsoft, and start worrying about shareholder lawsuits. As Om puts it:

    They said no to $31-a-share bid. (Apparently, Microsoft raised it to $33 a share… ) If the stock skids to say $21 a share, the shareholders are going to be might pissed… In other words, at a time when Yahoo, its management and its board of directors need to be focused on rebooting the company, they are going to be distracted by these nagging problems.

  • Of course, if Y! stock falls that low, Microsoft might be back.

I was wrong. I thought that the deal would happen, because it seemed by far the best that Y! shareholders were going to do. I still don’t how Y! stock does anything but plummet next week, and I don’t see how it gets up to Microsoft’s offer price in the forseeable future.

Video on Flickr

The advent of video on Flickr has been long. It’s hard to see how the birth could have been anything but an anticlimax (unless it happened in a stable with a star overhead, three righteous dudes bringing schwag, etc.).

The gospel according to Michael (Arrington) describes Flickr video as a unique experience. I’d describe it as… neat. That’s based only on the first video on the Flickr blog, on Mike’s post, and on the comments thereon.

There are limits on video clips. You have to have a Pro account, and you can’t upload videos longer than 90 seconds. Neither of these limits bothers me. I consider my Flickr Pro account $25/year well spent, even though it’s one of the very few web services for which I pay anything at all.

The 90 second limit reinforces Flickr as the site for stuff you took with your digital camera. Most such cameras can capture short video clips. I rarely use that feature of my camera, but Flickr Video might change that.

Yes, Flickr Video might have allowed long clips, and might have been free. But there would still have been an “is that all there is?” response, partly because of YouTube, partly because of the above-mentioned wait for Flickr Video.

By the way, I saw Mike’s post on Techmeme before it appears in my feed reader. That’s more of a positive comment on Techmeme than it is a negative comment on Google Reader.

Music Managers on the Move

Some recent coverage of executives taking new jobs in the music industry takes a rather religious tone. Yahoo loses its musical soul is how Mike Arrington described the departure of Ian Rogers to become CEO of Topspin Media. Can Doug Merrill Save Music? asked Stephen Wildstrom, reporting on another move. Staci D. Kramer interviewed Doug, the Google CIO who is leaving… to join EMI as president of digital business.

I think that there’s a rather big difference between saving music and saving EMI. If music needs saving, then I think its rather more likely to be saved by Topspin, with its mission to help independent artists make a living, than by anyone at EMI or any other major label.

WordPress.com, Google, Yahoo Making Music Together

For those of us hosted at WordPress.com, there are multiple ways to include music in a post. the simplest is to point the WordPress audio player at an MP3 file.

This raises the question of where to stash the MP3 files. In a recent support forum thread, DZonson suggested the use of Google Pages. You use Google Page Creator to set up a site, upload the MP3s, put them on a page, publish the page, and you can then use the WordPress MP3 player at the MP3s.

You can take one more step in order to make such GPC pages available as playlists. You can edit each page’s html to add a line of javascript invoking the Yahoo Media Player. I like this simple, lightweight player, and I like the way it turns a storage bin for MP3s into a page that can be made interesting in its own right.

I should note that GPC is part of Google labs, which is a place for projects “that aren’t quite ready for prime time.” GPC imposes space limits, currently 10MB on a file and 100MB on a site (but you can have multiple sites).

I should also note that Yahoo Media Player can’t be used directly at WordPress.com itself, since it is javascript. I wish it could be made available, in much the same way as services such as Sonific are available.

Jill Sobule: Au Revoir, Albania, etc.

I note, with sadness but without surprise, the So Long post at the Jill Sobule and the Provocateurs blog.

Well, we kind of knew it was coming. We didn’t quite fit… But it was a good idea –to mix music with politics and social issues… I had a great time. Yahoo pretty much allowed us to write whatever we wanted…

I got to hear and converse with people that I would never, on my own blog, encounter. What’s the point of preaching to the converted? On our last post on Evangelicals and gays, we did encounter some nut jobs, but we also heard from intelligent and thoughtful Christians. We actually had peaceful dialogue…

The above quote demonstrates that Jill is a grownup. She is gracious and mature about Yahoo, which has just dropped the blog she had there, and about people who have disagreed with her on said blog.

Jill is also a girl genius. That she has been so since she was, well, a girl, is demonstrated by this song, which she wrote as a teenager: “Don’t Fuck With Me.” I hope you won’t be put off by the title; I consider it one of the least offensive songs I’ve ever heard.

I got it from the Show and Tell page at Jill’s main site. By the way, the same page also currently features a song from “the forthcoming release of songs from the musical Prozak and the Platypus.”

Jill is a wonderful live performer. Here she is doing “Resistance Song,” which is my all-time favorite song about reincarnation.

Those intrepid few of you who’ve got this far may be wondering about the Albania reference. Well, we used to have an Albanian restaurant round the corner from us. I liked it a lot, but felt that it wouldn’t last at that location. But the same people are doing well with their new venture.

Likewise, Jill didn’t fit as a blogger at Yahoo Music, but she has lots of other things going on, several of which she links to in the So Long post.

MicroHoosDay

The saga of Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo goes,as does the coverage. On Friday, Greene and Hof of Business Week described the game of chicken. Will Microsoft increase its offer or initiate a hostile takeover. Since I loves me some deadpan, I’ll share the following quote.

Pushing Microsoft is Bill Miller, a legendary fund manager whose Legg Mason (LM) firm owns 9% of Yahoo’s stock. Miller recently told his investors that he estimates Yahoo’s value at $40 a share. He encouraged Microsoft to sweeten its offer.

Yesterday, Kara Swisher had a very good piece on Yahoo’s board, and how each director seems to view Microsoft’s offer. The directors themselves might not share my opinion, given Kara’s use of phrases like “wake Yahoo’s directors from their persistent narcoleptic state” and “most directors… are pretty clueless and hands-off when it comes to the companies they are supposed to be overseeing.”

Then Mashable Stan interpreted some remarks by Bill Gates to mean that Microsoft will not raise the bid, and is quite prepared to spend its money elsewhere. His colleagues Adam and Kristen looked east, remarking on the possible involvement of Alibaba (China) and Yahoo! Japan respectively.

I still think that the deal with go through. I don’t think that Bill Miller’s fund is going to get a (Chinese) new year gift in the form of a better offer from Microsoft.

BigCo Banter

Just a few comments on goings-on at the web BigCos in the last week.

OpenID: BigCos on Board

This morning the OpenID Foundation announced that Google, IBM, Microsoft, VeriSign, and Yahoo! have joined the board. This is good news, since OpenID is good.

However, there are limits to the goodness of the news. As Michael Arrington points out:

OpenID looks like it’s going to be a winner, so big companies making their user accounts OpenID compatible is a good hedge. Everyone, of course, wants to be an ID issuer, since they get to “own” the user. Less attractive is allowing users from other sites to log into your services, so don’t expect that functionality to come for some time.

Yahoo, Not Acquired Yet

Takeover bid? What takeover bid? We’re just doing business as usual here at Yahoo!. Thus Stan refers to a couple of musical moves.

One is the closing of Yahoo Music Unlimited. YMU users will be able to migrate their libraries over to Rhapsody. However, as Duncan points out: The move itself may be short term with Yahoo users likely to be forwarded to the Zune marketplace if Microsoft’s acquisition of Yahoo is successful.

Y!’s other musical move is the acquisition to Foxytunes. Hence Y! isn’t changing its mind about the importance of online music; what it’s changing is emphasis. By the way, I like the Foxytunes plugin. I trust Yahoo not to mess it up, but I’m not so sure about Microsoft.

That’s similar to how I feel about Flickr. I am not alone in my fears for Flickr, although I have yet to join the group stridently named MICROSOFT: KEEP YOUR EVlL GRUBBY HANDS OFF OF OUR FLICKR.

I’ve seen several arguments that Yahoo will be able to fight off the Microsoft offer. Fred Wilson’s argument is one of the better supported.

But I just bet that Y! will accept Microsoft’s bid by February 8. I did so at the new Industry Standard, which includes a prediction market. I’m already annoyed with the Standard over niggling user interface details. For example, it took me multiple attempts to get through the signup screen. Once signed up, I spent some of my “$100,000” by entering “10,000.” I was told that my bid couldn’t include letters.

Microhoo

Danny Sullivan is working hard providing updates and analysis as things unfold. What things? In case you hadn’t heard, Microsoft has made a bid for Yahoo! It offered $31/share, which represents a value of $45B and a premium of 62%.

In its letter to the Yahoo! board, Microsoft identified four areas of synergy (I quote):

  • Scale economics: This combination enables synergies related to scale economics of the advertising platform where today there is only one competitor at scale. This includes synergies across both search and non-search related advertising.
  • Expanded R&D capacity.
  • Operational efficiencies: Eliminating redundant infrastructure and duplicative operating costs.
  • Emerging user experiences… such as video, mobile services, online commerce, social media, and social platforms.

At first glance, I find the first of these the most convincing. The second makes me reflect that Microsoft’s already huge R&D capacity produced Vista, while much of the software I like came from smaller, leaner organizations. Flickr is a case in point. I think that Yahoo! didn’t mess with Flickr, and I hope that Microsoft won’t.

“Operational efficiencies” mean more layoffs, in addition to the 1000 announced at Y! before the Microsoft bid. I’m not sure how many there might be, and how they might be distributed between the M and Y! sides. As for the last of the four areas: the buzzwords about “emerging user experiences” don’t add much to the case for the deal.

The Yahoo! board will give this offer very serious consideration. It would be hard to claim that Y! looks more ready to take on Microsoft and Google than it did when Jerry Yang took over as CEO six months ago.

To make more adventurous and premature predictions: the deal will go ahead; post-acquisition integration will be very difficult; Google doesn’t need to worry.

Update, to correct a couple of typos, and to note that Paul Kedrosky’s view is similar to mine, and he makes the Google point more vividly.

This is good news for Google, of course. It gives the company carte blanche for other large acquisitions, if needed, and, more importantly, it means that two elephants will be busily mating out back so that it can march merrily in the confusion to further share gains in both search and advertising.