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If Microsoft Bought Yahoo…

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[Disclaimer: Though I work at Yahoo and know several Microsoft folks, I have absolutely no insider knowledge related to this post.]

Every now and then someone floats that idea that what Microsoft most needs to “win” on the Web is to buy someone else, typically AOL or Yahoo. Henry Blodget’s Microsoft’s Long, Slow Slide Into Web Irrelevance, Greg Linden’s Is Microsoft’s Web war lost?, and John Battelle’s When Microsoft (and Yahoo) Are Sucking Wind, Is It Fun to Be Google? make me wonder if this a better idea (for Microsoft) that I had first thought.

Sure, there would be cultural problems, integration challenges, and many people who’d likely walk. But at the end of the day, Microsoft would end up with a much larger set of online services, a better advertising network, and people who know how to build, brand, and market web stuff that people actually use.

Yahoo would suddenly be part of an organization with an even more diversified revenue stream (it’s improved a lot since the Tim Koogle days, of course), very deep pockets, and some serious bargaining power.

I know that Microsoft takes the long-term view. They’re often quite comfortable pouring money into ventures for years before they make a profit. (You know, wait for version 3.0…) They can afford to do that. But on the other hand, I look at how long they’ve been trying to get good at the web and start to really wonder. They say they’re serious about it, but some days I find that hard to believe. It’s been a long time and the web moves quickly.

Don’t get me wrong. They’ve built some great stuff. TerraServer is awesome and their Local stuff really shows promise. But this is 2007 and Microsoft is the biggest software company in the world. I expect more. A lot more.

The only glimmer of hope is the thought that thousands of developers who were working on Vista are finally getting feed up to work on Web related projects. A few folks mentioned this when I visited Microsoft a couple months back. That could result in some very interesting products in a few years, assuming they can ship on a web time scale (rather than an OS time scale).

So anyway, what if…?

Discuss. :-)

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Jeremy Zawodny is the author of the popular Jeremy Zawodny’s blog. Jeremy is part of the Yahoo search team and frequently posts in the Yahoo! Search blog as well.

Visit Jeremy’s blog: Jeremy Zawodny’s blog.

If Microsoft Bought Yahoo…
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