Yahoo: Lonely at the Top

I rarely blog about executive comings and goings, but the goings at Yahoo are hard to ignore.

At this rate, Jerry Yang and Sue Decker will be the only executives left at Yahoo by Independence Day. The theme song? As you can see from the post title, I gave the nod to Randy Newman, but Bob Marley (Exodus) was also a contender.

The Morning After the No-Deal

The biggest tech story of the year so far is the acquisition of Yahoo by Microsoft, and the biggest current tech story is that the deal didn’t happen.

Let’s review, from a few different perspectives, starting with Yahoo itself. CEO Jerry Yang poses the question Ok, so now what?.

With Microsoft’s withdrawal, we’ll be better able to focus our energy on growing our industry leadership and maximizing value for stockholders. We’ll continue to execute on our plan — making your Internet experience as personal, relevant, open and social as possible, serving advertisers so well they insist on working with us, and opening up Yahoo! in a way that developers dream of.

Meanwhile, one of the leads at Yahoo News is: Yahoo shares fall 17 pct after Microsoft withdraws bid. The story tells that Yahoo shares fell to $23.73 in early trading, while Microsoft’s rose 2.3 percent to $29.30. Yahoo is up slightly to $24 right now, which is $9 less than Microsoft’s last offer.

I found via Fred Wilson, a poll on where Yahoo will close today . Yesterday, his prediction was $26, and mine was $18. I’ll actually be happy if he is still closer than me at the end of the day. But I fear that a further slide is only a shareholder lawsuit or two away.

There’s another poll related to the non-deal over at TechCrunch: Does Ballmer Need to Go? Currently “too soon to tell” has a comfortable lead, with “yes” and “no” tied for second place. Those are the only three candidates: I couldn’t find “Ballmer should go, but not for Microhoo-related reasons.”

So the deal, even thought it didn’t happen, continues to create distractions for both Microsoft and Yahoo. Google is the winner.

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., Google, Yahoo Making Music Together

For those of us hosted at, 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 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.


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.