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.


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.

Yahoo Heading Into the Wind

Now here’s an effectively ominous opening sentence. It’s never a good thing when one of the quotes of the CEO in an earnings report mentions “headwinds.” That’s Rob Hof, of Business Week, on yesterday’s news from Yahoo!

It’s the right lede. There were no surprises in the Q4 numbers, or in the news that Y! will shed 1000 jobs (7% of workforce). And perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that Y! didn’t articulate any clear and convincing course to prosper amidst the headwinds.

Yahoo and OpenID

Yahoo implements OpenID… or does it? Read/Write Marshall asks the key questions.

Though there’s every reason to hope that today’s Yahoo! announcement will lead to ongoing, meaningful advocacy of OpenID by the company and then a future wherein Yahoo! sites accept OpenID from other providers – there’s also plenty of reason to be concerned that neither will occur and that Yahoo! interests are really only served by spreading the use of Yahoo! ID further around the web.

MP3 Player From Yahoo, Broadcasts From Austin

Yahoo has just released a new version of its browser-based MP3 player. Here’s how Mike Arrington described it: this is a very simple solution… it does not require any software on the PC beyond a browser. That’s a good thing.

It’s also very simple to put a playlist in a post: you just link to the MP3 files, include a very simple snippet of javascript, and when someone visits, they see the player. Since it does require javascript, I can’t use it here at, but you can hop over to my self-hosted WordPress blog to see a post using the Yahoo player.

The playlist comprises four of my favorite tracks from the second volume of KGSR’s Broadcasts CDs. KGSR is a radio station in Austin, Texas; it gets some great musicians into its studios, and the proceeds from the CDs go to great causes. The CDs sell out. I’m not sure when volume 2 did so, but I suspect that it was a long time ago, given that it came out in 1994.

The playlist starts with my favorite track from volume 2: Freedy Johnston doing “Bad Reputation” solo acoustic. It was the first version of the song I heard, and it spoiled me for the studio version. Then there’s a track each from Kirsty MacColl, Alejandro Escovedo, and Crowded House.

Time to Try Yahoo Music Again?

I don’t have much to do with Yahoo these days, apart from continuing to use my email there. (But emails related to this blog are best addressed to andrew at changingway dot org). In particular, I canceled my subscription to Yahoo! Music Unlimited a while ago.

Maybe there will be reason to take another look at Yahoo Music in 2008. I say that based on an excellent post/presentation by Ian Rogers, VP Video and Media Applications at Yahoo! (via Read/Write Richard). I’ll quote Ian on two of his main points.

  1. There is more opportunity in leveraging the scale of the Web than trying to create scarcity.
  2. We will do this together by creating a loosely-coupled value chain including users as value creators.

The strongest aspects of Ian’s post are his admission that he has in the past been part of the scarcity conspiracy, his use of concrete examples, and the position he’s writing from. To be specific about his concreteness, he develops some ideas on digital packaging and emphasizes open standards.

The weakest aspects are his overuse of the word leverage – but that’s a pet peeve of mine, and one that’s not widely shared – and the lack of detail of Yahoo’s plans – but perhaps it’s best to wait for specific features and betas than to comment on plans. So, Yahoo Music, bring it on, and try to charm me away from Rhapsody and the other music sites I use.

Email is Social!

Stop the presses at the NY Times! Or at least read the rather good post by Saul Hansell at the NYT’s BITS blog.

Google and Yahoo have come up with new and very similar plans to respond to the challenge from MySpace and Facebook: They hope to turn their e-mail systems and personalized home page services (iGoogle and MyYahoo) into social networks.

Web-based e-mail systems already contain much of what Facebook calls the social graph — the connections between people.

Let’s talk about Yahoo first. Fred Wilson estimates that Yahoo Mail, with 250 million users, is the largest social graph on the planet. But Yahoo’s plans to use this graph make Michael Arrington sad.

Yahoo’s Brad Garlinghouse is talking about creating yet-another-social-network around Yahoo mail… He says the project is called “Inbox 2.0″ internally… It makes me sad because it is absurd for Yahoo to keep launching new social networking products, almost monthly, without what appears to be any sort of high level strategic vision…

I mean, I follow these products for a living, and I can’t keep their strategies straight. Or even figure out if there is a strategy. If Inbox 2.0 is part of Yahoo’s big vision for the future, then tell us more than the bits about the news feed and profile pages. Tell us how it can change the entire company, as OpenSocial appears poised to do with Google.

I have to agree with Michael that a more coherent message is coming from Google. Recognizing Gmail as a social graph fits very well into OpenSocial. For much the same reason, I disagree with Saul when he opens his post with the advice that we ignore OpenSocial.

Other remarks from “usual suspect” blogs include: it’s about time that Yahoo and Google unlocked the social potential of their email user bases; what’s really at issue here are two concepts that Hansell… didn’t name explicitly… RSS and Attention Data; it would make more sense to focus on start pages than on email.

Then there are many good contributions to the conversation in the comments to Saul’s post, and to the other posts referenced above… But this post has gone on long enough already.

Jill Sobule’s Feedless Blog

in an earlier post about Jill Sobule, I noted that I couldn’t find her blog at Yahoo music. That was probably due to its lack of existence. Well, now I can find the blog.

But I can’t find its feed. More to the point, neither can Firefox or Google Reader. Maybe Yahoo should buy Automattic, or at least buy a clue about hosting blogs.

Yahoo Minus 360

Jerry Yang recently posted about where Yahoo is heading.

We’re placing our bets in three big multi-year objectives… 1. Become the starting point for the most consumers… 2. Become the must-buy for advertisers… 3. Deliver open, industry-leading platforms that attract the most publishers and developers…

Our new decision-making framework also informed what we’d no longer invest in. To start, we’ve de-emphasized our focus on subscription music in favor of ad-supported music, migrated Yahoo! Photos to Flickr, we intend to transition Yahoo! 360 to a more integrated Yahoo! “profile” experience, we’ve closed Yahoo! Podcasts.

Here’s a translation of each of those paragraphs:

I don’t think that anyone, least of all me, will miss my Y360 page.