Friday, February 1, 2008

Is Microsoft the Hillary Clinton in an Obama World?

I've already referred to Stowe Boyd's line about the Microsoft-Yahoo merger. Here is the entire paragraph from which I quoted:

Personally, I think the Microsoft and Yahoo matchup is like two tired swimmers who bump into each other and then wind up drowning each other in their scramble to survive. But Yahoo will be the first to go under in this embrace.

Boyd's first commenter, Euan W. Semple, agreed:

When I heard the news my first thought was of two old stars colliding shortly before they become black holes!

Boyd's second commenter, yours truly, did not:

I'm just kind of absorbing everything at the moment, but regarding your comment and Euan's comment about Microsoft itself, my first impression is that I wouldn't necessarily classify Microsoft as a tired swimmer or an old star just yet.

Microsoft is still the company that we love to hate (sorry, Apple), primarily because they continue to recover from their mistakes and return with an adapted technological vision. They have adapted themselves several times over the years, addressing new markets, new competitors, and national governments.

Regardless of whether Microsoft acquires Yahoo and fails with its newly acquired group, acquires Yahoo and succeeds with it, or fails to acquire Yahoo, I suspect that Microsoft will continue to thrive in some form or another.

Exxon and IBM have managed to survive over the years, and I suspect that Microsoft will survive also.

However, my view seems to be in the minority.

Many other people are visualizing Microsoft as the tired old proprietary company. Boyd himself updated his blog post to link to Jeff Jarvis. This is what he said:

It’s appropriate...that Yahoo is being [sought] by what one could say is the last old technology company, Microsoft. For Microsoft still operates on a model of control: closed in an open era....

Will this be big enough to beat Google? No, because big won’t win in the end. Open will.

And Dave Winer has weighed in:

Does Yahoo + Microsoft make sense?

Nahh. It's like the dead leading the blind.

The only reason the deal makes sense is because it's the only thing either company could do that anyone might possibly care about.

And Winer links to Scott Rosenberg:

For Microsoft, this move is a final admission of the utter failure of the company’s effort to build an online business for itself over the past decade — in services, advertising or content. Winning Yahoo would surely bolster Microsoft in this area in the short term. But in the long term, these efforts at lashing together two failures in hopes of sparking a success have never prospered. For Google, the target of Redmond’s chess move, there is really no danger here.

But it turns out that I'm not the only person who is bullish on Microsoft for the long term.

Needless to say, Steve Ballmer is bullish on Microsoft:

We are on a good path with our existing search and advertising product roadmaps. To date, we have made progress in our organic online services and advertising efforts, and by joining with Yahoo!, we will take the next step toward becoming a major search destination and social platform for consumers....

Through our recent acquisitions of aQuantive and Tellme, we understand what it takes to successfully integrate new talent, assets, and infrastructure into our company. Leaders from both Microsoft and Yahoo! will work together closely on the integration process to ensure that we are thoughtful about the questions we ask and the decisions we make. As we move forward, we’ll look carefully at how to bring our assets together to create the greatest value for customers, employees, and shareholders.

And Robert Scoble had a positive take on his ex-employer:

It’s the fear that Google’s Docs and Spreadsheets might someday take marketshare away from Office that I think was driving this deal.

Sad thing? I still own Microsoft stock, which went down today on the news. But I think that long-term this is a good deal for Microsoft’s shareholders too. With one caveat: Microsoft and Yahoo employees need to work together to create value, not destroy it. That’s going to be pretty tough since the cultures of the two companies aren’t a total fit....

Microsoft has a world-class advertising sales team and this gives that team a ton of new inventory to sell.

Vinnie Mirchandani is also positive:

[W]ith Yahoo!, Microsoft is becoming a player at the lowest levels in the Valley. Where a lot of innovation is happening.

But Jeff Pulver made the strongest statement in favor of Microsoft:

One thing I’ve learned over the years is to "Never under estimate Microsoft...". Microsoft seems to be one of the companies that when others have written it off, it just bounces back and has always been able to re-invent itself.

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content