Over the weekend, a report came out indicating that Yahoo and Facebook have been talking about collaborating on search. Katherine Rushton at The Telegraph writes:
Sources have told The Sunday Telegraph that Marissa Mayer, chief executive of Yahoo!, has held discussions with Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, about how the two companies can work more closely together.
The two internet giants have already collaborated together on a number of small projects, for example to share Yahoo! news on Facebook, and recently agreed to settle a number of long-standing lawsuits over patents. However, board members expect the talks to lead to much more substantial collaboration based around web-based search.
Kara Swisher, who has a strong track record of breaking Yahoo-related news, and obtaining leaked memos from within the company, reports that Yahoo and Facebook are “not in search alliance discussions”. She writes:
Yahoo and Facebook are not currently in talks about forming a search alliance or building a search engine together, according to my sources, who scoffed about such a deal reported in a thinner-than-tissue-paper post by the Telegraph earlier today.
In addition, Yahoo is not anywhere near ending its search partnership with Microsoft, although new CEO Marissa Mayer has been in touch with the software giant about improving performance that has been less than lackluster over the course of its history so far.
The two reporters shared an exchange on Twitter:
@kerushton well, stick to your guns then.
Swisher also tells TheStreet.com’s social media director:
@rocco_thestreet oh, i am not wrong on this one. but thanks
Search industry analyst Danny Sullivan chimed in to say:
Seriously, the Telegraph article on Yahoo the Kingmaker is laughable. What Yahoo board member fed all this stuff out?
He also put together a piece called “A Yahoo-Facebook Search Partnership? Reality Check Time!” He writes, “The rest of the article is full of speculative assumptions, perhaps things fed to the reporter by those sources. On the face of it, these seem to make a compelling argument for a Yahoo-Facebook search partnership. But, if you know anything about the web search space, they quickly fall apart. Debunking time.”
He makes the point that Facebook already has a search partner with BIng, and brushes off the notion that Yahoo could have anything to offer in search that Bing could not. He argues against another statement Rushton makes about algorithms becoming more powerful as more people use them, indicating that Yahoo would already have plenty of data to improve upon its own, without the help of Facebook. Then, he laughs off another point she raised in that Yahoo could somehow attract more engineering talent if it partnered with Facebook.
There have been rumors that Microsoft and Yahoo could end their deal premature. Google has even expressed a renewed interest in taking Microsoft’s place. Facebook has expressed an interest in search. That is a fact, and we’re still waiting to see what will become of it.
Despite the Telegraph’s report, whether it’s accurate or not, there’s little to do other to than to wait and see what happens.
Facebook has at least, been experimenting with ways to monetize search.
Update: TechCrunch is sharing a statement from Facebook denying any talks:
People expect a better search experience on Facebook. We are working on improvements to better meet those expectations but are not in talks to enter into a new search partnership.