Microsoft Complains About DoubleClick Deal
Allowing Google to acquire advertising network operator DoubleClick would create an imbalance in the online ad market, and Microsoft thinks the deal should be quashed by regulators.
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Google’s $3.1 billion bid for DoubleClick has become a lightning rod for criticism since its announcement on Friday the 13th. Microsoft has no desire to play camp counselor to Google’s Jason Voorhees, and has called for a review of the deal.
Brad Smith, Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Microsoft, said in a statement: "This proposed acquisition raises serious competition and privacy concerns in that it gives the Google DoubleClick combination unprecedented control in the delivery of online advertising, and access to a huge amount of consumer information by tracking what customers do online.
"We think this merger deserves close scrutiny from regulatory authorities to ensure a competitive online advertising market."
AT&T, AOL, and Yahoo, have also complained after Google came along with its massive all-cash deal to scoop up the prize. Yahoo and AOL had been in the running for DoubleClick along with Microsoft, while AT&T seems to fear Google could treat them and other broadband providers as mere conduits for information, the New York Times said:
"We think antitrust authorities should take a hard look at this deal and the implications," said Jim Cicconi, senior executive vice president for external affairs at AT&T. "If any one company gets a hammerlock on the online advertising space, as Google seems to be trying to do, that is worrisome."
"For many of these new Web services, it could be that the advertising-supported model is the predominant business model," he said. "The danger here is that Google could be in a position to pick winners and losers."
In the same report, Google CEO Eric Schmidt dismissed Microsoft’s concerns: "We’ve studied this closely, and their claims, as stated, are not true."
It would be easy to mock Microsoft for its antitrust complaints, as Andy Beal did on his blog. Microsoft has been in antitrust fights in the US and Europe, due to their business practices.
AT&T’s insertion into the discussion is more interesting. The virtually reconstructed telecom monolith wants to be an online player, to compete with broadband providers like Comcast. They have no desire to be relegated to utility status.
Even though Microsoft made the first noise about antitrust concerns, AT&T could be the company with the stronger case against the DoubleClick deal.