Category Archives: Public Companies

Microsoft – Yahoo saga seems to be over!

Well, after 3 months of negotiations, speculations and rumors the saga between Microsoft and Yahoo seems to be over, for now. Microsoft has formally withdrawn their offer to buy Yahoo while the second publicly declared a victory for the Web at all. While there are clearly no winners in this virtual war here is what the people at Microsoft have told Yahoo today.

“We continue to believe that our proposed acquisition made sense for Microsoft, Yahoo! and the market as a whole. Our goal in pursuing a combination with Yahoo! was to provide greater choice and innovation in the marketplace and create real value for our respective stockholders and employees,” said Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer of Microsoft.

“Despite our best efforts, including raising our bid by roughly $5 billion, Yahoo! has not moved toward accepting our offer. After careful consideration, we believe the economics demanded by Yahoo! do not make sense for us, and it is in the best interests of Microsoft stockholders, employees and other stakeholders to withdraw our proposal,” said Ballmer.

“We have a talented team in place and a compelling plan to grow our business through innovative new services and strategic transactions with other business partners. While Yahoo! would have accelerated our strategy, I am confident that we can continue to move forward toward our goals,” Ballmer said.

“We are investing heavily in new tools and Web experiences, we have dramatically improved our search performance and advertiser satisfaction, and we will continue to build our scale through organic growth and partnerships,” said Kevin Johnson, Microsoft president for platforms and services.

On the other side here is Yahoo’s response to Microsoft

“We remain focused on maximizing shareholder value and pursuing strategic opportunities that position Yahoo! for success and leadership in its markets. From the beginning of this process, our independent board and our management have been steadfast in our belief that Microsoft’s offer undervalued the company and we are pleased that so many of our shareholders joined us in expressing that view. Yahoo! is profitable, growing, and executing well on its strategic plan to capture the large opportunities in the relatively young online advertising market. Our solid results for the first quarter of 2008 and increased full year 2008 operating cash flow outlook reflect the progress the company is making. Today, Yahoo! has:

– a refined strategic focus to drive enhanced volume and yield;

– reorganized to focus its efforts on its most promising products and services;

– invested in innovations designed to revolutionize display advertising and facilitate closing the competitive gap in search; and

– enhanced expense and resource management to support improved profitability.”

Jerry Yang, co-founder and chief executive officer, Yahoo! Inc. added, “I am incredibly proud of the way our team has come together over the last three months. This process has underscored our unique and valuable strategic position. With the distraction of Microsoft’s unsolicited proposal now behind us, we will be able to focus all of our energies on executing the most important transition in our history so that we can maximize our potential to the benefit of our shareholders, employees, partners and users.”

The simple truth is that Microsoft has definitely been hurt on its image and is walking out from this with serious dose of frustration. As to Yahoo they will surely take a serious hit by the stock market, their market capitalization will be big time hurt and they are probably going to become an easy pray to private equity players. There are all signs to believe that Microsoft will eventually return for Yahoo when time comes and the valuations are less. Rumors have it that Yahoo might eventually pursue a merger with AOL. Teaming up with Google is not an option. Aside having anti-trust implications it might also hurt their Panama advertising strategy on the long term run. 

Really more from MS/Yahoo’s saga

http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2008/may08/05-03letter.mspx
http://yhoo.client.shareholder.com/press/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=308131
http://webinsider.blogspot.com/2008/05/microsoft-cancelled-bid-for-yahoo-why.html
http://blog.pmarca.com/2008/05/examining-micro.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/05/03/yahoos-tough-week-ahead/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/05/03/yahoo-responds/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/29/yahoos-new-rock-star-retention-program/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/05/03/breaking-microsoft-walks/
http://mashable.com/2008/05/03/breaking-microsoft-corporation-rescinds-offer-for-yahoo-inc/
http://venturebeat.com/2008/05/03/yahoo-breaks-the-wrist-microsoft-walks-away/
http://www.centernetworks.com/microsoft-yahoo-aol
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/04/03/despite-rumors-microsoft-is-highly-unlikely-to-increase-its-bid-for-yahoo/
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120701820580579519.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/26/yahoo-shares-up-44-on-rumors-microsoft-will-increase-the-bid-to-34/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/25/citigroup-raises-yahoo-target-to-34-based-on-revised-microsoft-bid/
http://www.infoworld.com/article/08/03/25/Citigroup-says-Microsoft-likely-to-raise-bid-for-Yahoo_1.html
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=MSFT
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=yhoo
http://uk.reuters.com/article/technology-media-telco-SP/idUKN1819990520080219
http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-6231021.html
http://mashable.com/2008/02/18/bill-gates-were-not-raising-the-yahoo-bid/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/01/yes-we-were-right-yahoo-was-seriously-undervalued-microsoft-offers-446b-for-the-company-a-62-premium-over-their-value-from-yesterday/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/02/is-google-going-to-be-the-winner-from-the-microsoft-yahoo-deal/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/04/google%e2%80%99s-chief-legal-officer-vs-microsoft%e2%80%99s-general-counsel/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/08/one-after-another-the-potential-competitive-bidders-for-yahoo-drop-off-is-yahoo-going-to-surrender-to-microsoft/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/09/end-of-speculations-yahoo-rejected-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/11/yahoo%e2%80%99s-official-response-to-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer-no/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/12/and-here-is-what-microsoft-has-to-tell-yahoo/
http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/080211/aqm241.html
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?d=t&s=msft
http://money.cnn.com/2008/02/09/magazines/fortune/yahoo_rejects_bid_report.fortune/?postversion=2008020914
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fffc1006-d5e8-11dc-bbb2-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1
http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2008/02/05/yahoo-the-five-scenario-analysis/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/08/yahoo-board-to-determine-fate-of-company-today/
http://www.techmeme.com/080201/p78#a080201p78
http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_8149194
http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/feb2008/tc2008021_885192.htm?chan=rss_topStories_ssi_5
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/02/AR2008020200568.html
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/02/MN8OUQGNB.DTL&type=tech
http://kara.allthingsd.com/20080201/microsoft-to-yahoo-two-days-to-respond-or-else/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/hold-everything-we-may-get-another-yhoo-bidder.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/what-would-a-combined-microsoft-yahoo-look-like/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/ballmers-internal-e-mail-to-the-troops-explaining-the-yahoo-acquisition/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/02/news-corp-scrambles-to-bid-for-yahoo/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/microsoft-yahoo-combined-financials.html
http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=206107168
http://mashable.com/2008/02/10/yahoo-aol-merger/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/10/wait-yahoo-and-aol-i-was-looking-forward-to-something-moreintelligent/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/09/microsofts-80-billion-and-growing-yahoo-headache/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/09/end-of-speculations-yahoo-rejected-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer

Amazon Web Services on its way to surpass $500M in sales this year

In a recent conference call Amazon has announced that it has reached over $131M in sales during the fourth-quarter of 2007 from its Web Services, which much or less means more than $500M in revenues for the entire fiscal 2008 for Amazon coming solely from its Web Services. When compared to the $5.7B for the same quarter coming in from its core business activates that amount looks tiny and small, but it is symbolic for the major transition undertaken at Amazon to shift the focus from simply an online retailer to a broader Internet company and mostly an innovator in the web space. We are also sure that the margins are surely greater in the web services field for Amazon than the profits derived from its traditional retail business. Standing alone the Amazon Web Services’ revenues are certainly huge and newsworthy. Amazon Web Services turn out to be a very successful strategy for Bezos’ globe-spanning empire to drive sales and profits up. The company claims as well there are over 60,000 different customers across the various Amazon Web Services.

What is also interesting and noteworthy from the information that recently became publicly available online is the fact that the biggest users of Amazon Web Services are not the army of web 2.0 start-ups but large-scale corporations from the banking and the pharmaceutical sectors.

More about Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services provides developers with direct access to Amazon’s robust technology platform. Build on Amazon’s suite of web services to enable and enhance your applications. We innovate for you, so that you can innovate for your customers.

Amazon WS include Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, Amazon SimpleDB, Amazon Simple Storage Service and Amazon Simple Queue Service.

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) – Beta

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers. Amazon EC2’s simple web service interface allows you to obtain and configure capacity with minimal friction. It provides you with complete control of your computing resources and lets you run on Amazon’s proven computing environment. Amazon EC2 reduces the time required to obtain and boot new server instances to minutes, allowing you to quickly scale capacity, both up and down, as your computing requirements change. Amazon EC2 changes the economics of computing by allowing you to pay only for capacity that you actually use.  Amazon EC2 provides developers the tools to build failure resilient applications and isolate themselves from common failure scenarios.

Amazon SimpleDB™- Limited Beta

Amazon SimpleDB is a web service for running queries on structured data in real time. This service works in close conjunction with Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), collectively providing the ability to store, process and query data sets in the cloud. These services are designed to make web-scale computing easier and more cost-effective for developers. Traditionally, this type of functionality has been accomplished with a clustered relational database that requires a sizable upfront investment, brings more complexity than is typically needed, and often requires a DBA to maintain and administer. In contrast, Amazon SimpleDB is easy to use and provides the core functionality of a database – real-time lookup and simple querying of structured data – without the operational complexity.  Amazon SimpleDB requires no schema, automatically indexes your data and provides a simple API for storage and access.  This eliminates the administrative burden of data modeling, index maintenance, and performance tuning. Developers gain access to this functionality within Amazon’s proven computing environment, are able to scale instantly, and pay only for what they use.

Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3)

Amazon S3 is storage for the Internet. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers. Amazon S3 provides a simple web services interface that can be used to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web. It gives any developer access to the same highly scalable, reliable, fast, inexpensive data storage infrastructure that Amazon uses to run its own global network of web sites. The service aims to maximize benefits of scale and to pass those benefits on to developers.

Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS)

Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS) offers a reliable, highly scalable, hosted queue for storing messages as they travel between computers. By using Amazon SQS, developers can simply move data between distributed components of their applications that perform different tasks, without losing messages or requiring each component to be always available. Amazon SQS makes it easy to build an automated workflow, working in close conjunction with the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and the other AWS infrastructure web services. Amazon SQS works by exposing Amazon’s web-scale messaging infrastructure as a web service. Any computer on the Internet can add or read messages without any installed software or special firewall configurations. Components of applications using Amazon SQS can run independently, and do not need to be on the same network, developed with the same technologies, or running at the same time.

There are many other companies in the sector and among others are Nirvanix (recently received funding from European Founders Fund) and RackSpace’s Mosso.

More

http://www.amazon.com/gp/browse.html?node=3435361
http://www.wired.com/techbiz/it/magazine/16-05/mf_amazon
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/21/who-are-the-biggest-users-of-amazon-web-services-its-not-startups/
http://aws.amazon.com/ec2
http://aws.amazon.com/s3
http://www.amazon.com/SimpleDB-AWS-Service-Pricing/b?ie=UTF8&node=342335011
http://www.amazon.com/Simple-Queue-Service-home-page/b?ie=UTF8&node=13584001
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/30/amazon-earnings-call-details-web-services-use-up-more-bandwidth-than-amazoncom-the-kindle-is-a-hit/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/03/14/amazon-grid-storage-web-service-launches/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/03/14/amazon-grid-storage-web-service-launches/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/14/amazon-takes-on-oracle-and-ibm-with-simple-db-beta/
http://www.fabianschonholz.com/2008/03/11/a-hybrid-solution/
http://open.nytimes.com/2007/11/01/self-service-prorated-super-computing-fun/
http://www.nirvanix.com/
https://www.mosso.com/

Nice exit for Sphere.com

While AOL is trying to shop itself around they seem are not stopping the shopping spree themselves and keep on buying second tier web companies. After snatching Bebo last month, they have bought yesterday the related content engine Sphere, which is mainly used across blogs on Web.  So it seems to be official already: AOL has acquired sphere.com. Despite financial terms of the deal were not disclosed the price was rumored to be in the $25M range that comes on top of Sphere’s $3.5M total funding to date. That is supposed to be a nice exit for Sphere’s existing investors. There are bunch of angels and a couple of institutional investors in Sphere’s two rounds of funding. The first one was in the $500K range and the participating private investors then were Radar Partners, True Ventures, Winton Partners, David Mahoney, Scott Kurnit, Vince Vannelli, William Randolph Hearst III, Kevin Compton and Doug Mackenzie while their institutional round was closed by Hearst Corporation and Trident Capital and was in the $3M range. Well, other sources claim the company has taken over $4M in funding so we are not really sure which number is the correct one.

Sphere is basically providing contextually relevant content tools that make connections between text, video, photos and ads and according to the company is currently integrated into over 70,000 leading sites and is live on over 2 Billion monthly article pages across the web. If true that is pretty impressive number and should have been able to command a price way higher than the $25M rumored to have been paid for the company.

According to their blog “we are very excited about becoming part of AOL and wanted to share with you what it will mean for Sphere and our publisher partners, including “mainstream” media, micro-publishers and blog sites.”

Sphere has always been a publisher/ blogger -centric company, even in our early days as a fledgling blog search engine. We founded Sphere with a mission to make contextually relevant connections between all forms of content (mainstream media articles, archived articles, videos, blogs, photos, ads) that enable the reader to go deep on topics of interest. We also, by virtue of our starting point, set out to be a vehicle to enable the individual voice to join the conversation as well as expose their voice to a broader audience of readers. The benefit of joining the ‘sphere is straightforward: publishers/ bloggers who successfully promote distribution of their content and that of others will be in a position to derive more value (aka….make more money, gain more influence, etc.) from media distribution.”

We humbly thank everyone involved: our awesome team; advisors (Josh Macht; Toni Schneider; Matt Mullenweg; Mike Monteiro; Ron McCoy; Mary Hodder; and Scott Kurnit); investors, many of which wear halo’s (True Ventures; Trident Capital; Radar Partners; Hearst Interactive; Blacksmith; Phil Black; Will Hearst; David Mahoney; Mike Winton; Scott Kurnit; Vince Vannelli; Adaptive Path); our board (Venetia Kontogouris; Phil Black; Darcy Bentley; Scott Kurnit); publisher/ blog partners; the gang at Oddpost who showed us the way to build frugally/ intelligently; OM Malik, Mike Arrington, Kara Swisher, Dan Farber, Matt Marshall and the many other bloggers who’ve partnered, written, and given us advice; our attorney (Stefan Clulow); Howard Zeprun and Ira Parker who insured the dialog kept moving forward; Jen Consalvo who understood our potential and introduced to a number of AOL groups, Lewis Dvorkin and Bill Wilson who paid us the nicest compliment of all in offering to acquire our company and then doing so, family and friends. We’re thrilled to be part of this new genesis!

Sphere was founded by Tony Conrad, Martin Remy, Steve Nieker and Toni Schneider in 2005 and is based in San Francisco. Sphere uses its contextual-search platform technology to make connections between content from blogs, video, media, photos and advertisements. These contextual results are then displayed in a pop-over window or an integrated widget that lets publishers enhance articles by incorporating related articles and blog posts from archived content and across the Web.

Prior to the acquisition, AOL partnered with Sphere to offer its widget technology on AOL News and the myAOL service, Mgnet. Sphere’s third-party network includes more than 70,000 content publishers and blogs and is live on an average of more than 2 billion article pages across the web every month.

“Our focus at AOL is providing consumers relevant content wherever they are on the Web, and Sphere’s capabilities fit in perfectly with this effort. Not only will it let us enhance content on our own sites, it will let us distribute our content across Sphere’s growing third-party publisher network,” said Ron Grant, President and COO of AOL. “In addition, this acquisition provides AOL with access to advertising inventory across Sphere’s network, while growing its reach to content publishers via the widget.”

Sphere will be integrated in Bill Wilson’s organization, the EVP of Programming at AOL. His division controls AOL’s content properties (Entertainment, Finance, Weblogs, etc.).

Competition include Proximic, Lijit, Adaptiveblue, LinkedWords, somehow NosyJoe, Jiglu, among others. Other, although remote, players in this space include Attendi, Diigo, Twine and Freebase.

More about AOL

A Global Ad-Supported Web Services Company

AOL is a leading global advertising-supported Web company, with the most comprehensive display advertising network in the U.S., a substantial worldwide audience, and a suite of popular Web brands and products.

The company’s strategy focuses on increasing the scale and sophistication of its advertising platform and growing the size and engagement of its global online audience through leading products and programming.

Core Statistics

  • 109 million – Average domestic monthly unique visitors to the AOL network of Web properties during the quarter ending December 31, 2007, according to comScore Media Metrix.
  • 49.2 billion – Domestic page views for the AOL network of Web properties during the quarter ending December 31, 2007, according to comScore Media Metrix.
  • 150 – Average monthly page views per unique visitor to the AOL network of Web properties, during the quarter ending December 31, 2007.

 A sophisticated advertising network

AOL offers advertisers access to the broadest display advertising network in the U.S. and some of the most sophisticated tools available to target and measure online advertising campaigns through AOL’s Platform-A business group. Platform-A consists of Advertising.com, which operates the largest third-party display networks; behavioral targeting leader TACODA; Third Screen Media, which operates one of the largest mobile media networks; market leading video ad serving platform Lightningcast; Quigo, which offers advertisers the ability to target ads based on the content of Web pages; and ADTECH‘s global ad serving platform.

In addition, Platform-A Marketing Solutions provides large brand customers with coordinated access to the full Platform-A product suite, enabling advertisers and agencies to more easily harness the full power of digital media.

Industry-leading products and programs

AOL’s network of Web properties is one of the top three in the United States, attracting an average of 109 million unique visitors each month during the quarter ending December 31, 2007, according to comScore Media Metrix, and many are leaders in their categories.

MapQuest, for example, is the leading U.S. provider of online maps and directions; AIM is the No. 1 messaging service in the U.S.; and TMZ, developed in partnership with Warner Bros.’ Telepictures Productions, is the No. 1 domestic entertainment news site on the Web. Other popular destinations include Black Voices, a premiere site for the African-American community, and AOL Latino, a leading bilingual portal for U.S. Hispanics.

In the past year, AOL has relaunched all its major programming channels, including News, Sports, Money & Finance, Living, and launched several new sites, including Switched.com, PopEater, Stylelist, DIYLife and Green Daily.

AOL also has been upgrading its product suite, including the new AOL.com home page, improved AOL Mail, the new AOL Desktop, Safety and Security and Parental Control tools, and the new Winamp player. In addition, AOL has launched breakthrough products such as BlueString, which lets users easily store and share their pictures and movies, and myAOL, which lets users easily customize their homepage.

AOL’s Truveo video search tool, the leading video search engine, continues to expand its reach. During 2007, Truveo’s index of searchable videos grew 20-fold to more than 100 million. Truveo tracks more than 500,000 new videos uploaded to the Web each day. Queries across the Truveo video search network increased 20 fold during 2007. Unique monthly visitors across the sites powered by Truveo exceeded 50 million. Truveo has also launched localized versions of its video search product in 16 countries.

Expanding worldwide

As part of its aggressive international growth plans, AOL launched portals in Austria, The Netherlands, India, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Poland and Belgium. In addition, AOL teamed up with HP – a leading PC maker in the U.S. – to include localized versions of the AOL.com portal and other AOL services as the default setting on HP computers shipped in the United States and more than two-dozen countries worldwide.

AOL continues to operate one of the largest Internet subscription businesses in the United States, with 10 million domestic subscribers at the end of the third quarter of 2007.

More

http://www.sphere.com
http://www.sphere.com/blog/
http://aol.com/
http://corp.aol.com/press_releases/2008/04/aol-acquires-sphere
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/14/aol-buys-sphere-content-engine/
http://gigaom.com/2008/04/14/aol-buys-sphere/
http://www.crunchbase.com/person/tony-conrad
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/sphere
http://www.sphere.com/blog/2008/04/15/aol-buys-sphere/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/14/22m-uniques-mo-site-bebo-goes-to-aol-for-850m-in-all-cash-deal/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/12/aol-is-offered-up-for-sale/
http://www.crunchbase.com/person/tony-conrad
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/05/22/timecom-adds-sphere-it-links/
http://www.tridentcap.com/
http://kara.allthingsd.com/category/radar-partners/

Despite rumors Microsoft is highly unlikely to increase its bid for Yahoo

When last week we wrote about Yahoo’s shares going up on rumors that Microsoft is going to increase their bid for the Internet giant it seems those rumors were not very accurate. This week Microsoft gave Yahoo a very strong signal it won’t happen.

Sources “close to the company” tell the Wall Street Journal that Microsoft is standing firm on its initial offer of $31 a share (which has now declined in value, in step with Microsoft’s stock price, from $44.6B to about $42B).

“There’s no reason to bid against ourselves,” one of these people said.

Microsoft’s strategists believe that time is on their side, the people close to the company say. The strategists argue that Yahoo’s recent roadshow failed to dazzle investors and nothing in its presentations will justify a higher price, the people say. In addition, the strategists argue that the worsening economic downturn and stock-market weakness make the original bid look even more generous.

The WSJ is also saying that Microsoft won’t reveal its alternate slate of directors until it has to—and that won’t be until ten days after Yahoo announces the date of its 2008 shareholders meeting, which it has yet to do.

Despite the fact those rumors were the reason behind Yahoo’s recent increase in their share price with 4.4% to $28.73 the company’s stock price did not fall much on today’s trade and remained close to $28 compared to the moment the rumors were broadcasted publicly.

Really more from MS/Yahoo’s saga

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120701820580579519.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/26/yahoo-shares-up-44-on-rumors-microsoft-will-increase-the-bid-to-34/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/25/citigroup-raises-yahoo-target-to-34-based-on-revised-microsoft-bid/
http://www.infoworld.com/article/08/03/25/Citigroup-says-Microsoft-likely-to-raise-bid-for-Yahoo_1.html
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=MSFT
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=yhoo
http://uk.reuters.com/article/technology-media-telco-SP/idUKN1819990520080219
http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-6231021.html
http://mashable.com/2008/02/18/bill-gates-were-not-raising-the-yahoo-bid/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/01/yes-we-were-right-yahoo-was-seriously-undervalued-microsoft-offers-446b-for-the-company-a-62-premium-over-their-value-from-yesterday/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/02/is-google-going-to-be-the-winner-from-the-microsoft-yahoo-deal/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/04/google%e2%80%99s-chief-legal-officer-vs-microsoft%e2%80%99s-general-counsel/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/08/one-after-another-the-potential-competitive-bidders-for-yahoo-drop-off-is-yahoo-going-to-surrender-to-microsoft/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/09/end-of-speculations-yahoo-rejected-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/11/yahoo%e2%80%99s-official-response-to-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer-no/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/12/and-here-is-what-microsoft-has-to-tell-yahoo/
http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/080211/aqm241.html
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?d=t&s=msft
http://money.cnn.com/2008/02/09/magazines/fortune/yahoo_rejects_bid_report.fortune/?postversion=2008020914
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fffc1006-d5e8-11dc-bbb2-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1
http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2008/02/05/yahoo-the-five-scenario-analysis/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/08/yahoo-board-to-determine-fate-of-company-today/
http://www.techmeme.com/080201/p78#a080201p78
http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_8149194
http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/feb2008/tc2008021_885192.htm?chan=rss_topStories_ssi_5
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/02/AR2008020200568.html
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/02/MN8OUQGNB.DTL&type=tech
http://kara.allthingsd.com/20080201/microsoft-to-yahoo-two-days-to-respond-or-else/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/hold-everything-we-may-get-another-yhoo-bidder.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/what-would-a-combined-microsoft-yahoo-look-like/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/ballmers-internal-e-mail-to-the-troops-explaining-the-yahoo-acquisition/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/02/news-corp-scrambles-to-bid-for-yahoo/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/microsoft-yahoo-combined-financials.html
http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=206107168
http://mashable.com/2008/02/10/yahoo-aol-merger/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/10/wait-yahoo-and-aol-i-was-looking-forward-to-something-moreintelligent/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/09/microsofts-80-billion-and-growing-yahoo-headache/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/09/end-of-speculations-yahoo-rejected-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer
 

Looks like SpinVox is about to get a real run for the money, Nuance enters their niche

Everything leads us to the simple conclusion that Nuance is taking on SpinVox’s voice-to-text technology. It has always been interestingly enough to see how pouring big VC money into an idea, market niche, product or solution is always attracting some bigger player to try and exploit it. It seems the case with SpinVox today is pretty much the same. Nuance Communications, Inc., (the bigger player) announced today at CTIA Wireless 2008  the “Nuance Voicemail to Text” . Offered via wireless carriers, transcribed messages are sent to users as SMS or email messages. This news is hard not to connect to SpinVox’s massive round of funding that took place just a few weeks ago.

“Converting voicemail to text is a powerful and simple concept. But implementing a highly scalable semi-automated service is far more complex and requires highly accurate speech recognition – technology that takes decades to develop,” said Steve Chambers, president, mobile and consumer services division, Nuance. “The Nuance Voicemail to Text Service integrates speech technology with over 3,000 Nuance transcriptionists, hosted in a Nuance-owned facility, with proven security, scalability, and reliability.” 

Nuance’s telco-grade Voicemail to Text service delivers high-quality readable messages in minutes, giving you quick access to accurate transcriptions of your voicemail messages. Your entire voicemail message is transcribed and delivered directly to your mobile device. Users don’t have to worry about writing down or losing information while on-the-go. Messages can be saved, indexed in an archive and retrieved anytime, anywhere.

Nuance has revolutionized voicemail to text through high levels of automation. Nuance can deliver the world’s most accurate solution for turning speech into text with Dragon NaturallySpeaking, the world’s leading proprietary speech recognition engine, backed by 400 patents worldwide and proven by millions of users over 10 years. Nuance’s own state-of-the-art speech technology is supported by 3,000 in-house transcriptionists, hosted in a Nuance-owned facility with “five nines” (99.999%) uptime and reliability.

While the early, direct to consumer model of voicemail to text services was needed for a proof-of-concept, Nuance is changing the model to bring speech-enabled services to the mobile consumer through carriers. Nuance hosts the Voicemail to Text for service providers, integrating it with any standard voicemail system. Callers simply leave a message on a voicemail system that’s Nuance-enabled, and the message is transcribed to text and sent back to the voicemail platform, which delivers it to users through different messaging mediums such as email or SMS.

Nuance Communications, Inc. (NUAN) is a $3.8B market capitalization company that generates over $600M (2007) in revenues per year.

As just like some other technology blogs have already noticed and commented on, we also think all this looks like SpinVox is about to get a real run for the money to justify its huge valuation of $500M pre-money!

SpinVox, a London based voice-to-text technology has just recently raised $100M round of funding from a bunch of high-profile investors among which are Goldman Sachs, GLG Partners, Blue Mountain Capital Management and Toscafund Asset Management. Some of those venture capitalists have surely been seriously upset today.

The service can basically be described as a solution that transcribes voicemails to text so that they can be more easily digitized, searched, and manipulated. SpinVox’s software works simply by converting a voicemail message into text, which it then e-mails to a computer or sends via SMS to a phone. It removes the need to dial one’s voicemail, punch in a password and listen to messages.

More about Nuance

Nuance Communications, Inc. (Nuance) is a provider of speech-based solutions for businesses and consumers worldwide. The Company’s speech solutions are designed to transform the way people interact with information systems, mobile devices and services. Nuance offers businesses and consumers value-added speech, dictation and imaging solutions that facilitate the way people access, share, manage and use information in business and daily life. The Company provides speech solutions to enterprise speech, mobility, and healthcare dictation and transcription markets. Nuance markets and distributes its products indirectly through a global network of resellers, including system integrators, independent software vendors, value-added resellers, hardware vendors, telecommunications carriers and distributors, and directly through its sales force and through the Company’s e-commerce Website.

More about SpinVox

We launched in 2005 through The Carphone Warehouse, The Link and other retail channels. Pretty soon we had over 130,000 regular users, with an unprecedented customer retention rate of 80%. People who started speaking through SpinVox soon found they couldn’t live without it.

SpinVox has since won major industry awards from people like the GSM Association, Red Herring and Ernst & Young. No, we’re not boasting, we’re just pleased. In fact we’re amazed at how SpinVox is changing people’s lives.

At the heart of SpinVox is our patented Voice Message Conversion System™ (or VMCS to keep it simple). It underpins everything we do – our retail, enterprise, service provider and global carrier services. It’s maintained on an enterprise-class hardware infrastructure by an expert management team, to meet the rigorous demands of global carriers and their customers. Which means it just works, brilliantly.

From retail brands and direct customers, to global carriers and Web 2.0 brands, we are leading the way in converging voice and screens. SpinVox products are used on five continents, in five languages, with new carrier and technology partners joining us every month. SpinVox has 300 employees and offices in nine countries.

Some other competitors include Jott, Pinger, SimulScribe, among others.

More

http://www.nuance.com/
http://www.nuance.com/vm2text/
http://www.nuance.com/naturallyspeaking/
http://finance.google.com/finance?&q=NUAN
http://wirelessspeech.blogspot.com/2008/04/nuance-challenges-spinvox-in-voicemail.html
http://mashable.com/2008/04/01/nuance/
http://www.ctia.org/conventions_events/wireless/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/21/spinvox-raises-100m-at-a-whopping-500m-valuation/
http://www.spinvox.com/
http://blog.spinvox.com/
http://www.spinvox.com/spinvox-secures-over-100-million-in-new-funding-round..html
http://www.moconews.net/entry/419-voicemail-to-text-firm-spinvox-raises-100-million-500-million-valuation/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/20/spinvox-translates-voice-to-text-service-into-a-100-million-round/
http://mashable.com/2008/03/20/spinvox-funded/
http://uk.techcrunch.com/2008/03/19/it-looks-like-spinvox-has-raised-50m/
http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idUKN1932303420080319?rpc=44
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/13/your-phone-is-your-mic-spinvox-lets-users-talk-to-twitter-facebook-and-jaiku-europe-only/
http://www.spinvox.com/spinvox-targets-cambridge-for-speech-recognition-skills..html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allied_Domecq
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedro_Domecq
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/spinvox

An Israeli sync start-up acquired for reportedly $25M

BeInSync Ltd., an Israeli-based provider of an all-in-one solution that allows users to backup, synchronize, share and access data online has been acquired by Phoenix Technologies for an undisclosed amount. However, Techcrunch has reported the company went for $25M.

Phoenix Technologies, based in Milpitas Calif., is a public company (PTEC) established in 1979 and designs, develops and supports core system software for personal computers and other computing devices. The Company’s product supports and enables the compatibility, connectivity, security, and manageability of the various components and technologies used in such devices. It sells these products primarily to computer and component device manufacturers. Phoenix Technologies has more than 300 employees and company’s today market capitalization was $426M on $47M revenues for the fiscal 2007.

BeInSync, on the other side, is just four and a half year old startup that is known to have raised $8M to date from several institutional investors like Alta Berkeley Venture Partners, Aviv Venture Capital Fund, and Eurofund. Looking at the numbers this seems not the dream exit for the investors – only $25M off $8M invested, but is perhaps better than nothing on the long term run considering the huge competition in the space of file sharing and synchronization among any type of devices from computers to mobile phones. The company’s founders are Tal Barnoach, Sharon Carmel, and Adi Ruppin.

The acquisition, which is anticipated to close within the next several weeks, represents yet another step by Phoenix in delivering on its PC 3.0 promise of Embedded Simplicity.

BeInSync’s technology redefines the way consumers and SMBs backup, access, share and protect documents, rich media files, and other important data. The company’s patent-pending, peer-to-peer technology allows users to seamlessly and securely access their latest files anytime and anywhere, automatically keeping files and folders ‘in sync’ and backed up across multiple computers, including home PCs, office PCs and laptops.

“This acquisition is a leap forward in our effort to redefine and significantly improve the PC experience by embedding simplicity for end users,” said Woody Hobbs, President and CEO of Phoenix Technologies. “PC 3.0 eliminates complexity and provides users with the kind of convenience they expect from their digital devices. We are bringing new benefits to the hundreds of millions of PC users globally who require built-in functionality on PCs by enabling secure and easy online access and collaboration and automated data protection to help them manage their digital lives.

“The integration of breakthrough synchronization technology from BeInSync will allow Phoenix and its customers to help end-users alleviate concerns about the loss of important files and to give them complete mobile freedom to access their data from any Internet-connected computer.”

Phoenix Technologies’ management team itself has extensive experience in synchronization technologies. Before joining Phoenix, Woody Hobbs served as President and CEO of Intellisync, a leader in wireless email and synchronization solutions, which was acquired in 2006 by Nokia.

“Given our past experience in synchronization solutions, it was fairly easy for us to identify the best possible technology existing out there that would fit in with our corporate vision and product strategy,” continued Hobbs. “We were very impressed with BeInSync’s people and their technology and we’re excited to work with them to transform data access and continuity for PC users in consumer and small business markets as well as in enterprise departments.

“End-users want to stay connected and always ‘be in sync’ with colleagues, friends, remote files and computer systems. We look forward to working with our OEM customers to make online synchronization and continuity a core part of the PC end user experience. Together, the two companies will meet a wider set of customer needs and have a significantly greater opportunity to enable PC OEMs to grow their markets.”

“We are very excited to be a part of Phoenix Technologies, the global leader in core systems firmware for PCs,” said Tal Barnoach, Founder and Chairman of BeInSync. “With this acquisition, Phoenix is extending its leadership in the PC industry to include products in its portfolio that will set the standard yet again for providing the best-in-class solutions to PC OEMs and their customers.”

Upon the closing of the acquisition, Sharon Carmel, Founder & Vice President of R&D at BeInSync, will join Phoenix as Vice President & Chief Scientist of Synchronization and Continuity Solutions and Phoenix will continue to maintain operations out of Tel Aviv, Israel. The two companies are developing integration plans that build on corporate similarities and the best business and product development practices from each company.

“Both Phoenix and BeInSync are passionate about creating and enabling great user experiences across the entire range of mobile PCs,” said Carmel. “Our combined teams will be a powerful force for innovation around emerging mobile computing platforms for delivering web-based data management and data protection solutions. PC 3.0 users will no longer be dependent on a single, stand-alone PC for access to their files and digital life. At the same time, Phoenix’s OEM customers will have new opportunities to differentiate their offerings, and provide additional value-added services as part of the PC sale.”

More about BeInSync

BeInSync redefines the way consumers and businesses access, share and protect their documents, photos, videos and music. With over 4 million downloads, BeInSync offers users complete freedom when dealing with their digital content, by allowing them to seamlessly sync, share, access and backup their data. Based on patent-pending secure peer-to-peer technology, BeInSync creates your own private data network that makes it easy to stay connected and always in sync with colleagues, friends, remote files and computers.

More about Phoenix Technologies

Phoenix Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: PTEC) is the global market leader in system firmware that provides the most secure foundation for today’s computing environments. The PC industry’s top builders and specifiers trust Phoenix to pioneer open standards and deliver innovative solutions that will help them differentiate their systems, reduce time-to-market and increase their revenues. The Company’s flagship products, AwardCore, SecureCore, FailSafe and HyperSpace, are revolutionizing the PC user experience by delivering unprecedented security, reliability and ease-of-use. The Company established industry leadership with its original BIOS product in 1983, has 155 technology patents and 139 pending applications, and has shipped in over one billion systems. Phoenix is headquartered in Milpitas, California with offices worldwide.

More

http://www.beinsync.com
http://www.beinsync.com/company/press-releases/press_release_phoenix_anouncement.php
http://www.phoenix.com
http://investor.phoenix.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=301730
http://www.thecoils.com/2008/03/27/beinsync_exit/ (in Hebrew)
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/26/beinsync-acquired-by-phoenix-technologies-for-25m/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/beinsync
http://www.beinsync.com/
http://investor.phoenix.com/common/download/download.cfm?companyid=PTEC&fileid=183485&filekey=d858c202-a278-42bf-b2b4-23ce4ce3a404&filename=301730.pdf
http://finance.google.com/finance?q=PTEC
http://www.altaberkeley.com/
http://www.avivvc.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extensible_Firmware_Interface
http://www.eurofund.co.il/

Yahoo shares up 4.4% on rumors Microsoft will increase the bid to $34

To make a long story short a Citigroup Investment Research analyst believes that rather than let the deal fall apart, Microsoft will increase its buyout offer for Yahoo. Citigroup has raised its Yahoo price target to $34 per share based on their belief that Microsoft will revise its takeover offer. The guy is named Mark Mahaney and he said “We believe that a Yahoo sale to Microsoft — at a price higher than the initial $31 bid is the most likely outcome”.

On those rumors and others Yahoo shares closed at $28.73 Tuesday, which is up 4.4%.

Mahaney also said Microsoft is yet to make significant inroads in the area of online advertising, especially against market leader Google, despite efforts to do so for the past three to four years. The only way Microsoft could compete with Google would be to acquire Yahoo, the analyst said.

It was also said Yahoo keeps on aggressively pursuing other alternatives to Microsoft’s unsolicited takeover bid, although there are no any other competing bidders for the company at this time. Rumored possibility is Time Warner, but analysts are saying it is more likely to force Microsoft increase its bid rather than ending up in a deal with Yahoo.

Really more

http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/25/citigroup-raises-yahoo-target-to-34-based-on-revised-microsoft-bid/
http://www.infoworld.com/article/08/03/25/Citigroup-says-Microsoft-likely-to-raise-bid-for-Yahoo_1.html
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=MSFT
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=yhoo
http://uk.reuters.com/article/technology-media-telco-SP/idUKN1819990520080219
http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-6231021.html
http://mashable.com/2008/02/18/bill-gates-were-not-raising-the-yahoo-bid/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/01/yes-we-were-right-yahoo-was-seriously-undervalued-microsoft-offers-446b-for-the-company-a-62-premium-over-their-value-from-yesterday/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/02/is-google-going-to-be-the-winner-from-the-microsoft-yahoo-deal/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/04/google%e2%80%99s-chief-legal-officer-vs-microsoft%e2%80%99s-general-counsel/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/08/one-after-another-the-potential-competitive-bidders-for-yahoo-drop-off-is-yahoo-going-to-surrender-to-microsoft/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/09/end-of-speculations-yahoo-rejected-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/11/yahoo%e2%80%99s-official-response-to-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer-no/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/12/and-here-is-what-microsoft-has-to-tell-yahoo/
http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/080211/aqm241.html
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?d=t&s=msft
http://money.cnn.com/2008/02/09/magazines/fortune/yahoo_rejects_bid_report.fortune/?postversion=2008020914
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fffc1006-d5e8-11dc-bbb2-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1
http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2008/02/05/yahoo-the-five-scenario-analysis/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/08/yahoo-board-to-determine-fate-of-company-today/
http://www.techmeme.com/080201/p78#a080201p78
http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_8149194
http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/feb2008/tc2008021_885192.htm?chan=rss_topStories_ssi_5
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/02/AR2008020200568.html
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/02/MN8OUQGNB.DTL&type=tech
http://kara.allthingsd.com/20080201/microsoft-to-yahoo-two-days-to-respond-or-else/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/hold-everything-we-may-get-another-yhoo-bidder.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/what-would-a-combined-microsoft-yahoo-look-like/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/ballmers-internal-e-mail-to-the-troops-explaining-the-yahoo-acquisition/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/02/news-corp-scrambles-to-bid-for-yahoo/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/microsoft-yahoo-combined-financials.html
http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=206107168
http://mashable.com/2008/02/10/yahoo-aol-merger/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/10/wait-yahoo-and-aol-i-was-looking-forward-to-something-moreintelligent/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/09/microsofts-80-billion-and-growing-yahoo-headache/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/09/end-of-speculations-yahoo-rejected-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer

Website Optimization company and CMS leader joined forces

An interesting deal happened a few months ago, announced in October 2007 and closed in November the same year. Interwoven, a public company traded on NASDAQ, has acquired the said website optimization pioneer Optimost.

The both companies then said that combination of Interwoven’s Content Management Solutions with Optimost’s Multivariable Testing and Optimization Solution will help organizations maximize online business performance.

Under the terms of the agreement between Optimost and Interwoven, Interwoven will pay approximately $52 million in cash for all outstanding shares of Optimost and assume certain existing employee stock options. From what we were able to dig up, Optimost is probably having less than $8M in revenues per year, which translates into multiple around 6X the revenues, which is not that impressive number after all. Interwoven is based in San Jose, Calif, and is making itself over $200M in revenues enjoying a market capitalization of 539.57M (March 17 2008).

As businesses continue to spend unprecedented amounts to drive traffic to their Websites through search engine marketing, pay-per-click ads, banner ads, e-mail, and other tactics, they face a significant challenge in converting traffic into revenue-generating customers. The combination of Interwoven’s content management solutions and Optimost’s optimization solution helps businesses address this challenge by providing marketers with the industry’s most complete set of capabilities for creating, deploying, testing, analyzing, and optimizing targeted content to Website visitors.

“This acquisition supports our strategy to power our customers’ online presence, and we believe it puts Interwoven at the top of the short list of a company’s must-have partners for online business,” said Joe Cowan, chief executive officer at Interwoven. “Companies today understand that maximizing their online business performance is the key to accelerating growth and profits, and that content is at the core of their online strategy. By acquiring Optimost, we are providing customers with a powerful solution for optimizing their content – which creates the connection point between the visitor and the Web – to provide the most compelling experience, faster, more efficiently, and more effectively than ever before.”

Founded in 2001, Optimost is a privately-held company headquartered in New York City, whose customers include Ask.com, Auto Trader, Delta Air Lines, FAO Schwarz, Lenovo, and MGM Mirage. Optimost has a proven track record in helping its clients achieve double-digit increases in conversion rates and online sales. For example, Delta Air Lines made changes to Delta.com based on the results of its multivariable optimization initiative, which has added up to approximately $15 million in additional revenue so far this year.

“Today’s announcement is wonderful news for Optimost’s customers,” said Mark Wachen, chief executive officer at Optimost. “When we founded Optimost, our vision was to deliver technology that allows marketers to increase the effectiveness of their online presence to drive measurable business results. Clearly, Interwoven shares the same vision and by combining forces we will be able to extend our innovative technology to a much larger market and provide Optimost customers with a more complete solution for maximizing their marketing investments. We look forward to joining the team at Interwoven.”
In just matter of couple of weeks the deal was closed on November 1st, 2007.

All Optimost employees, including the founders, Mark Wachen and Lance Lovette, have joined Interwoven and will focus on product innovation, customer support, and the continued acceleration of Interwoven’s business in the online marketing arena.

The Optimost solutions are now available through Interwoven as a standalone offering as well as in conjunction with the solutions in Interwoven’s portfolio.

Interwoven expects the Optimost acquisition to contribute in the range of $1.5 million to $2.0 million to total revenue during the fourth quarter of 2007, subsequent to the acquisition date and before considering purchase accounting adjustments to revenues of approximately $1.0 million.

More about Optimost

New York-based Optimost is a technology and services company specializing in comprehensive real-time testing and conversion rate marketing. Pioneers in the field of multivariable testing, the firm is able to create and test virtually limitless permutations of copy, offers and layouts in the time it takes to conduct a standard A/B page comparison test. By combining real-life response data with information about which variables were displayed in the test, Optimost clients are able to determine how much each individual website element contributes to the overall response rate. Client web pages can then be optimized further based on the combinations of most positive individual site elements. Optimost clients include: InterActiveCorp, Lillian Vernon, Delta Air Lines, Time Warner, QVC, and EarthLink.

More about Interwoven

Interwoven is a global leader in content management solutions. Interwoven’s software and services enable organizations to maximize online business performance and organize, find, and govern business content. Interwoven solutions unlock the value of content by delivering the right content to the right person in the right context at the right time. Over 4,200 of the world’s leading companies, professional services firms, and governments have chosen Interwoven, including adidas, Airbus, Avaya, BT, Cisco, Citi, Delta Air Lines, DLA Piper, the Federal Reserve Bank, FedEx, Grant Thornton, Hilton Hotels, Hong Kong Trade and Development Council, HSBC, LexisNexis, MasterCard, Microsoft, Samsung, Shell, Qantas Airways, Tesco, Virgin Mobile, and White & Case. Over 20,000 developers and over 300 partners enrich and extend Interwoven’s offerings.

More

http://www.interwoven.com/
http://finance.google.com/finance?q=NASDAQ:IWOV
http://www.optimost.com/
http://www.interwoven.com/components/page.jsp?topic=MAIN::NEWS&dcr=components/optimost.jsp
http://www.interwoven.com/components/page.jsp?topic=NEWS::RELEASES&dcr=templatedata/announcement/press-release/data/2007/dcr-2007-10-17-optimost.xml
http://www.centernetworks.com/interwoven-acquires-optimost-social-news http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/18/interwoven-acquires-optimost-for-52-million/
http://www.optimost.com/press/2007-11-interwoven-announces-close.php
 

22M uniques / mo site (Bebo) goes to AOL for $850M in all cash deal

Bebo, the global social network strong enough in UK and among the first in US, has quietly been up for sale for quite some time shopped around by the secretive investment firm Allen & Co. A number of potential acquires passed on a deal for Bebo, including News Corp., Microsoft and Google, sources tell. Yahoo is also rumored to may have also taken a long look. Until now when AOL has publicly announced they had acquired bebo.com for $850M in a deal all in cash off only $20M in revenues for 2007. AOL and Bebo have been in talks since September 2007. It is also publicly known fact that Bebo was looking for a price over $1B.

Launched in the middle of 2005 Bebo had quickly grown to millions of visitors per month and today stands at over 40M registered users as per company’s claims. Bebo has raised only (taking into consideration their exit number) $15M from Balderton Capital, which represents a very nice exit for the venture capitalists.  Competitors include MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, Piczo, Google’s Orkut, Flickr, and literally an endless army of social networking sites around the globe. Bebo has offices in the UK, San Francisco and Austin, TX with over 100 employees.

A quick look into the numbers reveals that AOL paid roughly $22 per registered user in Bebo’s acquisition. comScore reports for 22M unique visitors per month to bebo.com, which values each unique visitor at $39. Quantcast reports for less than 2M American visitors per month to bebo’s site but since the site appears to be not quantified we should not take these numbers for the correct ones.

Richard MacManus from RWW does not think this will make much headway for either company and calls it that way “Ultimately we’re talking about two middle of the road Web brands”. The Wall St Journal’s Kara Swisher has analyzed the deal and thinks in first place the numbers are not so big but sees that AOL is getting very attractive social-networking service and a very experienced exec who has been running it. According to the several sources, she quotes, who were privy to Bebo’s financials, for example, Bebo’s revenues for 2006 were only $7 million with $3 million in EBITDA. In 2007, the results are still small, with $20 million in revenues and $5 million in EBITDA. Using 2007 results, that means Time Warner’s (TWZ) AOL paid a handsome 42.5 times revenues and an incredible 160 times EBITDA.

Current President Joanna Shields (in the middle) is said will continue to run Bebo and will report to AOL President Ron Grant (in right) while the founders Michael Birch and Xochi Birch will shortly be leaving the startup, apparently.

Since its inception, Bebo has established a radical new vision for online media and engagement marketing, combining community, self-expression and entertainment, enabling its members to consume, create, discover, curate and share digital content in entirely new ways.  Bebo global users have high engagement levels spending an average of 33 minutes a day on the site. Its groundbreaking Open Media platform ushered in a new way for Bebo users to experience content online, while giving global media companies like MTV, CBS, BBC and more than 400 others, a new way to promote, distribute and monetize their programming. “Engagement Marketing,” is Bebo’s initiative for brands to build long-term relationships with their target audience.  Today, brands from Apple to Nike use Bebo as a platform to establish ongoing conversations with consumers. Bebo pioneered the blending of Web-native original content with interactivity in the social networking environment by co-producing “KateModern,” the most successful TV show on the Web, now in its second season, followed by the soon to be premiered “Sophia’s Diary,” and the upcoming “Gap Year.” In December 2007, Bebo opened its platform to external application developers becoming the first social network to embrace both Facebook and OpenSocial APIs. (a confusing signal, as up till then everyone had assumed that OpenSocial and Facebook platform were direct competitors.) To date, more than 1500 applications have joined the network.

Together with its AIM and ICQ personal communications network, the acquisition will give AOL a premier position in the fast growing world of social media with a network of approximately 80 million unique users.

With a total membership of more than 40 million worldwide, Bebo is a global social media network which combines community, self-expression and entertainment to enable its users to consume, create, discover and share content. Bebo is one of the leading social networks in the UK, and is ranked number one in Ireland and New Zealand, and number three in the U.S. in terms of engagement. Its users are heavily engaged and view an average of 78 pages per usage day.

The deal comes just one week after AOL’s launch of Open AIM 2.0, an initiative that allows the developer community greater freedom to access the AIM network and integrate AIM into its sites and applications, and the announcement by Apple of a downloadable AIM application for the iPhone.

“Bebo is the perfect complement to AOL’s personal communications network and puts us in a leading position in social media,” said Randy Falco, Chairman and CEO, AOL. “What drew us to Bebo was its substantial and fast-growing worldwide user-base, its vision of a truly social web, and the monetization opportunities that leverage Platform-A across our combined global audience. This positions us to offer advertisers even greater reach and marketers significant insights into the desires and needs of consumers.”

“AOL understands the shifting dynamics of the Web and has clearly demonstrated its commitment to leveraging the ever-increasing power of social networks,” said Bebo President, Joanna Shields. “With one and the same vision in this area, it was a natural progression for Bebo to join AOL, and we look forward to working together to continue to expand the online social experience globally.”

“Bebo’s dynamic management team recognizes that the Internet is less about destination and more about connecting people, culture and lifestyles,” said Ron Grant, President and COO, AOL.  “This acquisition supports our key objectives – accelerating the growth, engagement and monetization of one of the world’s most engaged online communities.” 

Analyst eMarketer predicts that by 2011, $4.1 billion will be spent worldwide for social network advertising – a dramatic increase from the $480 million spent in 2006.  In 2008 alone, global ad spend in the social networking arena is expected to increase 75% year over year, amounting to $2.1 billion.

In recent months, AOL has moved aggressively to bolster its position in areas critical to its emergence as a leading advertising-supported Web media and marketing company. Building on its number one position in third party display with Advertising.com, AOL has spent nearly $1 billion on online advertising acquisitions, including market leaders like ADTECH, buy.at, Lightningcast, Quigo, TACODA and Third Screen Media to create Platform-A. Platform-A is the top display ad serving network focused on helping marketers build brands that perform online.* In Web content, AOL’s revitalized network of sites has experienced five months of consecutive page view growth and key categories like Music, Television, Moviefone, TMZ, Money & Finance, News, Living and Body are all in the top four in their respective categories.

As part of its international growth plans, AOL has launched 17 international web sites over the last year and has plans to expand to 30 countries outside the U.S. by the end of 2008. In addition, AOL teamed up with HP last September to include localized versions of the AOL.com portal and other AOL services as the default setting on HP computers shipped in the United States and around the world. Bebo, which has announced plans to launch in five countries this year, will be featured prominently in AOL’s international expansion efforts after the deal is closed.

AOL was advised by Banc of America Securities LLC and Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. Bebo was advised by Allen & Co.

The deal is said to be subject to U.S. and EU antitrust regulations before it effectively closes.

More about AOL

A Global Ad-Supported Web Services Company

AOL is a leading global advertising-supported Web company, with the most comprehensive display advertising network in the U.S., a substantial worldwide audience, and a suite of popular Web brands and products.

The company’s strategy focuses on increasing the scale and sophistication of its advertising platform and growing the size and engagement of its global online audience through leading products and programming.

Core Statistics

  • 109 million – Average domestic monthly unique visitors to the AOL network of Web properties during the quarter ending December 31, 2007, according to comScore Media Metrix.
  • 49.2 billion – Domestic page views for the AOL network of Web properties during the quarter ending December 31, 2007, according to comScore Media Metrix.
  • 150 – Average monthly page views per unique visitor to the AOL network of Web properties, during the quarter ending December 31, 2007.

 A sophisticated advertising network

AOL offers advertisers access to the broadest display advertising network in the U.S. and some of the most sophisticated tools available to target and measure online advertising campaigns through AOL’s Platform-A business group. Platform-A consists of Advertising.com, which operates the largest third-party display networks; behavioral targeting leader TACODA; Third Screen Media, which operates one of the largest mobile media networks; market leading video ad serving platform Lightningcast; Quigo, which offers advertisers the ability to target ads based on the content of Web pages; and ADTECH‘s global ad serving platform.

In addition, Platform-A Marketing Solutions provides large brand customers with coordinated access to the full Platform-A product suite, enabling advertisers and agencies to more easily harness the full power of digital media.

Industry-leading products and programs

AOL’s network of Web properties is one of the top three in the United States, attracting an average of 109 million unique visitors each month during the quarter ending December 31, 2007, according to comScore Media Metrix, and many are leaders in their categories.

MapQuest, for example, is the leading U.S. provider of online maps and directions; AIM is the No. 1 messaging service in the U.S.; and TMZ, developed in partnership with Warner Bros.’ Telepictures Productions, is the No. 1 domestic entertainment news site on the Web. Other popular destinations include Black Voices, a premiere site for the African-American community, and AOL Latino, a leading bilingual portal for U.S. Hispanics.

In the past year, AOL has relaunched all its major programming channels, including News, Sports, Money & Finance, Living, and launched several new sites, including Switched.com, PopEater, Stylelist, DIYLife and Green Daily.

AOL also has been upgrading its product suite, including the new AOL.com home page, improved AOL Mail, the new AOL Desktop, Safety and Security and Parental Control tools, and the new Winamp player. In addition, AOL has launched breakthrough products such as BlueString, which lets users easily store and share their pictures and movies, and myAOL, which lets users easily customize their homepage.

AOL’s Truveo video search tool, the leading video search engine, continues to expand its reach. During 2007, Truveo’s index of searchable videos grew 20-fold to more than 100 million. Truveo tracks more than 500,000 new videos uploaded to the Web each day. Queries across the Truveo video search network increased 20 fold during 2007. Unique monthly visitors across the sites powered by Truveo exceeded 50 million. Truveo has also launched localized versions of its video search product in 16 countries.

Expanding worldwide

As part of its aggressive international growth plans, AOL launched portals in Austria, The Netherlands, India, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Poland and Belgium. In addition, AOL teamed up with HP – a leading PC maker in the U.S. – to include localized versions of the AOL.com portal and other AOL services as the default setting on HP computers shipped in the United States and more than two-dozen countries worldwide.

AOL continues to operate one of the largest Internet subscription businesses in the United States, with 10 million domestic subscribers at the end of the third quarter of 2007.

Meanwhile AOL seems to be looking for a buyer for … itself.

More

http://www.bebo.com/
http://developer.bebo.com
http://aol.com/
http://corp.aol.com/press_releases/2008/03/aol-acquire-global-social-media-network-bebo
http://developer.bebo.com/blog/index.php/2008/03/13/company-and-platform-newsjs-and-pre-load-sql-coming-soon/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/13/aol-buys-bebo-for-750-million/
http://mashable.com/2008/03/13/aol-bought-bebo/
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/aol_acquires_bebo.php
http://kara.allthingsd.com/20080313/bebo-by-the-not-so-big-numbers/
http://www.techmeme.com/080313/p77#a080313p77
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/14/aol-on-a-bender-kickapps-may-be-next-acquisition/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/12/bebo-1-billion-acquisition-definitely-happened/
http://kara.allthingsd.com/20080314/is-kickapps-next-to-board-aols-gravy-train/
http://www.rev2.org/2007/07/31/bebo-an-in-depth-look/
http://www.lastpodcast.net/2008/03/13/thursday-night-thoughts/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/bebo
http://www.centernetworks.com/bebo-aol-live-call
http://www.quantcast.com/bebo.com
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/12/aol-is-offered-up-for-sale/

AOL is offered up for sale

Today is a sad day for AOL, which somehow contrasts to the big day the company had in 2000 when they merged with Time Warner in what was then the biggest deal for the dot com era. All indicates that AOL is offered up for sale.

AOL, which is a symbolic company for the Internet the has tried to reinvent itself many times. The latest effort, like those before it, does not seem to be going well.

On Tuesday, Jeffrey L. Bewkes, the chief executive of Time Warner, AOL’s parent company, acknowledged weakness in the business and said he was open to combining AOL with another company — “whatever configuration makes it the strongest and the most valuable.”

Could this be an indirect signal to Yahoo to join forces with AOL? Yahoo anyway lost News Corp for a possible partner and after turning Microsoft down they are left now in sort of hot water to deal with their angry shareholders. It is known fact that Time Warner explored merging AOL with Microsoft’s online operation two years ago and is now discussing a potential deal with Yahoo.

AOL has recently shifted the entire focus and is betting its future on a new strategy of selling advertising across the Internet and has spent more than $1 billion on related acquisitions. The company has acquired a massive number of ad-related companies like Quigo, Tacoda, Userplane, Truveo and their first one Advertising.com for $435M back in 2004.  

AOL appears to be very close to Yahoo by destiny and just like them it seems they are also going through bad times.  On Monday, the third of four top executives installed last summer to run the new advertising division, known as Platform A, left the company. The executive, Curtis G. Viebranz, was fired and replaced by the executive who had been battling his strategy through the fall, Lynda Clarizio.

Several recently departed executives contacted this week described the climate at AOL as acrimonious. They said there had been confrontational meetings of employees as well as screaming matches in offices, as senior executives worried about making their aggressive quarterly ad sales goals. Mr. Bewkes acknowledged Tuesday that revenue at AOL would be flat for at least another quarter.

New York Times says that the company is still major player on Internet with a very prestigious brand name to an enormous revenue stream of $5.2B in 2007. AOL’s Web sites attract 112 million visitors per month and 9.3 million Americans still pay the company for Internet services. Yet the revenues are down 33% from 2006 and so their traffic too seems to be seriously declining over the past year as seen on Compete’s traffic graph. The company’s overall revenue was said has declined as it lost dial-up access subscribers while the advertising revenue totaled $2.2 billion in 2007, up 18 percent from the previous year, yet the pace of growth has slowed each quarter, too.

By contrast, if Facebook with their almost 100M uniques per month make even the half of what AOL is making off theirs the Facebook’s market value would then perhaps be justified at the $15B mark, but the “big” F is doing nothing compared to AOL’s revenues made from advertising alone.

It seems AOL is going to blindly follow the hot trend for today which is an ad network that sells ads on thousands of other sites. It is quite lazy and easy business, instead of building your own traffic, which is taking ages long to achieve you better attract third party sites to use their traffic to make money from. Perhaps this is the reason why we witness so many new ad networks lately.

“We were ahead of the curve in the creation of Platform A and remain in a great position to compete in this intensely competitive marketplace,” said Randy Falco, the chief executive of AOL. The management changes, he said, were necessary to be able to move quickly. After spending dearly to amass assets, “the trick was to get them working together and integrated in a very meaningful way.”

On Tuesday Mr. Bewkes, who spoke to analysts at a conference in Palm Beach, Fla., confirmed that AOL no longer saw a meaningful future for its dial-up Internet subscription service, which may be spun off.

The online advertising seems to be one of the most profitable niches over Internet commanding higher profit margins than any other business online. The leader on the market is Google with its AdWords/AdSense making over $10B per year by selling contextual ads on third party web publishers and there are literally thousands of smaller and more aggressive players in the space.

More about AOL

A Global Ad-Supported Web Services Company

AOL is a leading global advertising-supported Web company, with the most comprehensive display advertising network in the U.S., a substantial worldwide audience, and a suite of popular Web brands and products.

The company’s strategy focuses on increasing the scale and sophistication of its advertising platform and growing the size and engagement of its global online audience through leading products and programming.

Core Statistics

  • 109 million – Average domestic monthly unique visitors to the AOL network of Web properties during the quarter ending December 31, 2007, according to comScore Media Metrix.
  • 49.2 billion – Domestic page views for the AOL network of Web properties during the quarter ending December 31, 2007, according to comScore Media Metrix.
  • 150 – Average monthly page views per unique visitor to the AOL network of Web properties, during the quarter ending December 31, 2007.

 A sophisticated advertising network

AOL offers advertisers access to the broadest display advertising network in the U.S. and some of the most sophisticated tools available to target and measure online advertising campaigns through AOL’s Platform-A business group. Platform-A consists of Advertising.com, which operates the largest third-party display networks; behavioral targeting leader TACODA; Third Screen Media, which operates one of the largest mobile media networks; market leading video ad serving platform Lightningcast; Quigo, which offers advertisers the ability to target ads based on the content of Web pages; and ADTECH‘s global ad serving platform.

In addition, Platform-A Marketing Solutions provides large brand customers with coordinated access to the full Platform-A product suite, enabling advertisers and agencies to more easily harness the full power of digital media.

Industry-leading products and programs

AOL’s network of Web properties is one of the top three in the United States, attracting an average of 109 million unique visitors each month during the quarter ending December 31, 2007, according to comScore Media Metrix, and many are leaders in their categories.

MapQuest, for example, is the leading U.S. provider of online maps and directions; AIM is the No. 1 messaging service in the U.S.; and TMZ, developed in partnership with Warner Bros.’ Telepictures Productions, is the No. 1 domestic entertainment news site on the Web. Other popular destinations include Black Voices, a premiere site for the African-American community, and AOL Latino, a leading bilingual portal for U.S. Hispanics.

In the past year, AOL has relaunched all its major programming channels, including News, Sports, Money & Finance, Living, and launched several new sites, including Switched.com, PopEater, Stylelist, DIYLife and Green Daily.

AOL also has been upgrading its product suite, including the new AOL.com home page, improved AOL Mail, the new AOL Desktop, Safety and Security and Parental Control tools, and the new Winamp player. In addition, AOL has launched breakthrough products such as BlueString, which lets users easily store and share their pictures and movies, and myAOL, which lets users easily customize their homepage.

AOL’s Truveo video search tool, the leading video search engine, continues to expand its reach. During 2007, Truveo’s index of searchable videos grew 20-fold to more than 100 million. Truveo tracks more than 500,000 new videos uploaded to the Web each day. Queries across the Truveo video search network increased 20 fold during 2007. Unique monthly visitors across the sites powered by Truveo exceeded 50 million. Truveo has also launched localized versions of its video search product in 16 countries.

Expanding worldwide

As part of its aggressive international growth plans, AOL launched portals in Austria, The Netherlands, India, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Poland and Belgium. In addition, AOL teamed up with HP – a leading PC maker in the U.S. – to include localized versions of the AOL.com portal and other AOL services as the default setting on HP computers shipped in the United States and more than two-dozen countries worldwide.

AOL continues to operate one of the largest Internet subscription businesses in the United States, with 10 million domestic subscribers at the end of the third quarter of 2007.

More

http://aol.com
http://corp.aol.com/about-aol/company-overview
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/12/technology/12aol.html
http://www.aolmedianetworks.com/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/11/official-aol-on-the-table-for-a-deal/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/aol
http://www.techmeme.com/080312/p43#a080312p43
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/3/jeff_bewkes_s_private_hell_twx_
http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-bewkes-shake-ready-to-do-an-aol-deal-twc-spinoff-and-other-options/
http://searchengineland.com/080312-091036.php
http://portalblog.aol.com/

Are Digg’s users the real reason nobody buys them?

While reading over our daily dose of web 2.0 news and stories across our favorite technology blogs, we came across a very interesting theory being discussed on a few of these blogs.

Based on what we have read, and understood, it might turn out that Digg has a track record of surrendering to the mob when things get really bad. Giving control of its users to what shows up on their home page as a story or news is perhaps what made Digg popular but ironically it plays, with the same degree, a very negative role in Digg’s attempt to sell itself out. While the rumors are spreading around Web that potential buyer of Digg might be Microsoft (although they decline that) angry digg users are taking on the site with the promise they never return to it if the Redmond’s giant gets its hands on the popular user generated news site. We have speculated a lot over the past months as to what might be the reason why such a mainstream-like popular site does not get its long-waited exit despite all of its attempts it seems what is attracting potential suitors to Digg (its massive number of users) is what might be scaring them away.

Here is an extraction, as found on Techrunch, of the comments on Digg’s page under the news that Microsoft might be the potential buyer of Digg. 

  • Don’t sell Digg Kevin! Digg this story he needs to know how we feel!
  • Why not sell digg when you don’t care about the community. Sell it and we will be happy.
  • Somehow i think if Microsoft manages to buy digg a larger revolt than 09 F9 11… will happen, at least i know what i will do
  • I would have to see how things went afterward. If Google tried to shoehorn their “style” in to Digg’s interfaces (see: Jotspot), or if Microsoft tried to turn it in to a Windows program, I would switch to Reddit. I like Digg more, but either of those scenarios would kill Digg for me.
  • If MS is in, I’m out.
  • OK guys, Kevin doesn’t give half a shit about you. He cares about what all americans care about: $500,000,000 in his pocket. Good old capitalism, eh?
  • Goodbye Digg… Its been good knowing you… too bad you were gobbled up by corporate america. I remember back in the day when you were a bastion of free speech and unfettered entertainment, but no longer. I guess I will have to revert back to the “best of” section of Craigslist. Don’t sell your soul.
  • As long as they lets us delete our accounts
  • I am new to digg.com and I really like it. If Microsoft were to buy it that would be it for me. I will remove it from my favorites and never come back.
  • Dude. If Microsoft gets its fucking hands on this site then you will definitely have one less viewer. Those fuckers taint everything they touch.
  • Is this for real come on Kevin don’t give up to digg to these huge companies. What makes digg so special and fun is that it’s independent this is not a good idea.
  • If Microsoft purchases this site, go ahead and make your last act to institute a ‘delete your account’ function.
    This is terrible news. Lets see if we can have yet another viable outlet bought up by huge conglomerates which try to feed us what we are allowed to think and censor our beliefs. I tell you what. If digg is sold, I’m not coming here anymore! Kevin please don’t let this happen. Tell us this is about more than money.

Digg’s saga continues.

More

http://blog.digg.com/?p=114
http://digg.com/tech_news/Google_Microsoft_Bidding_For_Digg
http://digg.com/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/09/digg-users-are-doing-their-best-to-kill-an-acquisition/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/05/01/digg-surrenders-to-mob/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/07/google-microsoft-bidding-for-digg/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2007/12/19/digg-guys-are-up-for-sale-again-quietly/
http://www.quantcast.com/digg.com
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/17/for-sale-used-social-voting-site-asking-price-300-million-goes-by-the-name-of-digg/
http://www.hoovers.com/allen-&-company/–ID__51026–/free-co-factsheet.xhtml
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/12/28/no-acquisition-for-digg-raise-series-b-round-instead/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/11/07/just-sell-digg-already-jay/
http://nextnetnews.blogspot.com/2006/12/why-nobody-buys-diggcom.html
http://venturebeat.com/2007/12/17/source-digg-hires-bank-hoping-to-sell-for-300-million-or-more/
http://nextnetnews.blogspot.com/2007/02/diggcom-fights-spam-scam-games.html
http://www.pronetadvertising.com/articles/latest-digg-payola-exposed.html
http://valleywag.com/tech/rumormonger/digg-close-to-a-300-million-sale-320145.php
http://valleywag.com/tech/sun-valley/whos-selling-whos-buying-at-the-allen-confab-276716.php
http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2004/06/28/374371/index.htm

Digg is likely to make a nice exit soon

Digg, the user generated news site, has been pretty serious on getting itself sold for quite long time now. Just late last year they have hired Allen & Company to shop the site for what rumors claim to be anything in the $300 million range. There were literally millions of speculations around the blogosphere why Digg cannot sell so far, some of them summarized can be read over here.

Today we are reading they are about to finally make their long waited exit. Rumored bidders are, of course, Google and Microsoft, among a couple of media type of companies, no names quoted. This time however the price is being said to be way below the price tag of $300M Digg has put on its site last year – in the $200-$225 million range.

According to Quantcast, which we believe is very accurate, Digg.com is hugely popular site and is already reaching more than 25 million unique visitors per month. Just like a couple of months ago, here we again think Digg does worth more than $300M at the very current moment, with or without steady revenues, simply because of its popularity, leadership, reach and target audience. 25 Million unique visitors per month is almost a mainstream site and we have seen sites with less that traffic getting acquired in the 10 digit range.

Taking into consideration the fact that in case Microsoft does not buy the site they are likely to terminate the ad agreement they have with Digg, it seems that other bidders are not including the Microsoft revenues in Digg’s valuation.

More about Allen & Company

Investment bank Allen & Company has been involved in a number of high profile mergers and acquisitions in the past. Interesting for the Allen & Company is the privacy the investment firm seems to be working in as argument for which is the absence of even a basic site for the company on Web. Perhaps they don’t like publicity. Yet, we have found the firm’s contact details, which can be found among the other links on the end of the story’s page.

For Allen & Company, there’s no business like financing show business. The investment bank serves variously as investor, underwriter, and broker to some of the biggest names in entertainment, technology, and information. Viewed as something of a secret society, the firm has had a quiet hand in such hookups as Seagram (now part of Vivendi) and Universal Studios, Hasbro and Galoob Toys, and Disney and Capital Cities/ABC. The firm’s famous annual retreat in Sun Valley, Idaho, attracts more moguls than a double-black ski run (Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and eBay CEO Meg Whitman have attended). Brothers Herbert and Charles Allen founded the company in 1922.

Key people and executives for Allen & Company LLC are as follows:

  • Non-Executive Chairman Donald R. (Don) Keough
  • President, CEO, and Director Herbert A. (Herb) Allen
  • Managing Director and CFO Kim M. Wieland

More

http://digg.com/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/07/google-microsoft-bidding-for-digg/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2007/12/19/digg-guys-are-up-for-sale-again-quietly/
http://www.quantcast.com/digg.com
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/17/for-sale-used-social-voting-site-asking-price-300-million-goes-by-the-name-of-digg/
http://www.hoovers.com/allen-&-company/–ID__51026–/free-co-factsheet.xhtml
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/12/28/no-acquisition-for-digg-raise-series-b-round-instead/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/11/07/just-sell-digg-already-jay/
http://nextnetnews.blogspot.com/2006/12/why-nobody-buys-diggcom.html
http://venturebeat.com/2007/12/17/source-digg-hires-bank-hoping-to-sell-for-300-million-or-more/
http://nextnetnews.blogspot.com/2007/02/diggcom-fights-spam-scam-games.html
http://www.pronetadvertising.com/articles/latest-digg-payola-exposed.html
http://valleywag.com/tech/rumormonger/digg-close-to-a-300-million-sale-320145.php
http://valleywag.com/tech/sun-valley/whos-selling-whos-buying-at-the-allen-confab-276716.php
http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2004/06/28/374371/index.htm

Taylor Nelson Sofres buys Compete.com

Compete, which started out in 2000 as an Idealab company, raised over $40M in funding to date, incurred $4.5M losses for the last year off $15M revenues and had hard time lately to compete with Quantcast has its exit day today. Compete has been acquired by the market research leader Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) for $75M plus another earn-out $75M through out 2008-2010 if certain conditions are met. Total acquisition price could possibly reach $150M. Compete.com calls that brilliant in their blog, which might be true taking into consideration that they have clearly lost the battle with Quantcast in the free traffic measurement space online. According to Compete’s own stats, it attracts about the same number of U.S. visitors a month as Alexa (727,000 for Compete versus 758,000 for Alexa), but Quantcast is the leader with more than double that (1.9M uniques). The deal and its price tag could also be called brilliant for Compete when compared to the comScore’s current market capitalization – $570M.

Since 2006 Compete tried almost everything on the PR front to gain popularity, create buzz, and increase its service awareness, but it had little to no success at all. In many aspects Compete’s traffic measurement, just like Alexa btw, is way inaccurate and incomplete when compared to quantified sites at Quantcast and perhaps TNS decided to buy the third or forth in the market due to a possible higher price Quantcast is currently looking for (or being not for sale) and the current market value comScore has. Both of them have been M&A targets for a while although no public facts are available as to whether TNS has been one of the suitors for either of the companies mentioned. By comparison, in 2007 Experian Group Ltd. paid $240 million to acquire another leading Web intelligence company, Hitwise Pty Ltd., which made money and had annual revenues of roughly $40 million. In other words, at a price tag of $75 million TNS is offering roughly 5 times Compete’s revenue, and it will pay 10 times sales if the target reaches the financial milestones stipulated under the earn-out clause. Experian paid a multiple of only 6 times sales for Hitwise.

One of the company’s latest developments was the partnership they made with Ask.com to provide compete data for sites on ask.com’s binoculars.

TNS is acquiring Compete primarily from a consortium of private venture capital companies. Compete is said it will continue to operate as a stand-alone company, but it has already identified stellar new product opportunities to develop with the TNS media intelligence and custom research teams.   

In additional to Idealab, Compete’s other investors include Charles River Ventures, Commonwealth Capital Partners, North Hill Ventures, Split Rock Partners, and William Blair Capital Partners. Total funding to date is $43M. Their investors were undoubtedly probably hoping for a much better outcome, but a solid double is better than nothing.

This acquisition brings together the global market information strength of TNS with Compete’s digital intelligence products and capabilities.  Digital intelligence combines data on user behavior and interactions on the internet with demographic and competitive information, to help businesses and marketers make critical, strategic and tactical business decisions. 

Through this acquisition, TNS will provide clients with new and valuable insights into how online consumer behavior affects purchasing decisions, enabling clients to improve their marketing effectiveness, both online and offline. Together, TNS and Compete will provide consumer, brand and media research and measurement services that will help businesses succeed in the digital marketing environment.

Compete conducts continuous analysis of internet clickstream data from close to 2 million people, weighted to match the US online population.  This information is used to measure how consumers consider, engage with and buy a client’s products or services online, relative to those of its competition.  This ability to analyze online behavior before a purchase is made enables Compete to advise clients on how to target online communications to individual consumers, to influence both their online and offline purchasing behavior.

As internet usage and e-retailing increases, clickstream data is expected to become a significant information source around which market research and analysis is based.  Recent estimates suggest that the US market in which Compete operates will grow from $325 million in 2007 to $500 million in 2009.  (Morgan Stanley research and Jupiter Research estimates of on-demand US web analytics market)

TNS will apply Compete’s ability to profile, measure and segment the online behavior of consumers to its own 6th dimension access panels.  This will start in the US, where TNS has a fully managed access panel of more than one million people and will then be extended across its network.  This will give TNS an unmatched ability to provide insight based on online and offline behavior and on consumer attitudes. 

David Lowden, Chief Executive of TNS, said: “This acquisition is an important move for TNS that builds on our ability to help clients understand consumer behavior in the new and highly complex digital world.  Compete has built a world-class digital intelligence capability that delivers multiple perspectives on how consumers engage with brands online. Its strength lies in its ability to provide competitive analysis of individuals’ online behavior, a rapidly growing section of the market that has enormous potential. 

“TNS will enhance this offering by putting it together with the understanding of consumer attitudes and behavior that we gain from our access panels.  We will use our network to offer this powerful combination to clients across the globe.  In the longer term, we will look at the opportunities to add further value by using our Worldpanel, Retail & Shopper and audience measurement capabilities to integrate data on purchasing and viewing behavior with internet search and shopping behavior.  We believe this will allow TNS to develop new syndicated and custom products, unique in our industry.”

Donald McLagan, Chairman and CEO of Compete, said: “We welcome this exciting opportunity to join one of the world’s most respected market information and insight groups.  Whether consumers buy online, or simply research online as they reach a purchasing decision, the marketing platforms they encounter bring major opportunities for brands.  Companies need to understand how the internet affects consumer preferences, attitudes, knowledge, understanding and motivation.  They also need help in maximizing the new online sales and marketing opportunities to target their prospective customers more effectively.  For the first time, we have given clients the opportunity to measure their effectiveness across all their marketing programmes.  This ability will be greatly enhanced when we are part of TNS.”

More about Compete

Compete, Inc. is a provider of analytics, research, and business intelligence. Compete gathers web behavior information from users who sign up at their site, then analyzes these data to create customized reports for client companies. Compete also offers a free web analytics tool for the general public at Compete.com.

Compete was founded in 2000 and is based in Boston, Massachusetts.  It analyses internet clickstream information received from its own panel and from internet service providers.  Compete uses proprietary data methodologies to normalize this data, making it representative of the entire US online market place. It specializes in the telecoms, media, automotive, financial services and travel industries, with a sector-based organization mirroring that of TNS.  It also has expertise in the field of online search evaluation.  Current management will remain with the company.  Clients, who include some of the world’s best-known brands, are engaged on a subscription basis, with analysis provided weekly or monthly.  The company has won a range of awards, including the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 two years in a row, the US Advertising Research Foundation David Ogilvy Award and the AdAge Power 150. Bill Gross is the company’s founder who had previously helped create the search engine that became Overture and later was acquired by Yahoo!.  

Compete has several competitors in enterprise-level web analytics and market research, including Nielsen/NetRatings, Hitwise, comScore, Amazon’s Alexa and Quantcast.

More about TNS

TNS is the third-largest market research firm across the globe (Honomichl)
TNS is the biggest provider of online market information in the world
TNS does more custom market research than any other firm worldwide
TNS Media Intelligence is the top-ranked ad spend measurement company
The TNS 6th Dimension access panels reach over two million consumers globally

The 1960s saw the creation of five of the market research companies that are at the heart of the Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) group today:

  • Intersearch in the USA in1960
  • AGB in UK in 1962
  • Sofres in France in 1963
  • Frank Small Associates in Australia in 1964
  • Taylor Nelson in UK in 1965
  • But the very first seeds had been sown in the USA in 1946, when NFO (National Family Opinion) opened for business.

In the 60s, 70s and 80s, all these companies grew significantly, introducing a wide and increasingly sophisticated range of research solutions and using the latest technological developments. And as they and their clients grew, they started to create their international networks:

Sofres opened offices in six European countries, the US and 12 countries in Asia Pacific
 
Taylor Nelson and AGB each developed a UK network of offices and began to acquire businesses in Europe

NFO grew to become the by-word for managed access panels in the USA
It soon became clear that brands were becoming global, and brand owners would need global market information partners.

In the 1990s, the market research industry started to consolidate, as major clients demanded an increasingly international service.

NFO made a series of acquisitions around the world and the companies that now form TNS responded to the changing market by joining forces, enabling them to deliver consistently high quality services to customers around the world.

  • Sofres acquired Secodip (1992)
  • Taylor Nelson joined with AGB  (1992)
  • Sofres combined with FSA (1995)
  • Sofres acquired Intersearch (1997)
  • Taylor Nelson AGB and Sofres merged (1997)
  • TNS acquired NFO (2003)

More
 
http://www.tnsglobal.com/
http://www.tnsglobal.com/investor-relations/news/news-E4DA1FFE67594CB6A72742C5A415BD1B.aspx
http://blog.compete.com/2008/03/03/tns-acquires-compete/
http://www.compete.com/
http://www.competeinc.com/
http://blog.compete.com/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/03/tns-buys-compete-for-75-million/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/compete
http://www.quantcast.com/
http://www.alexa.com/
http://www.comscore.com/
http://www.thealarmclock.com/mt/archives/2007/08/compete_ups_ant.html
http://www.competeinc.com/news_events/pressReleases/114/
http://blog.compete.com/2008/02/11/press-release-compete-celebrates-fifth-straight-year-of-record-growth/
http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-compete-bought-by-tns-for-up-to-150-million/
http://www.centernetworks.com/tns-acquires-compete
http://www.thealarmclock.com/mt/archives/2007/08/compete_ups_ant.html
http://www.centernetworks.com/ask-partners-with-compete-binoculars
http://www.techconfidential.com/money-out/blog/money-out/british-market-research-firm-t.php
http://blog.arhg.net/2008/03/competecom-bought-for-75m.html
http://mashable.com/2008/03/03/compete-acquired/
http://searchengineland.com/080303-105153.php

Stock photography and video footage leader sold out for $2.4B

Getty Images Inc. the world’s leading creator and distributor of visual content and other digital media announced today that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement to be acquired by affiliates of the private equity firm Hellman & Friedman LLC in a transaction valued at approximately $2.4 billion, including the assumption of existing debt.

Under the terms of the agreement, Getty Images stockholders will receive $34.00 in cash for each outstanding share of common stock they own. This price represents a premium of approximately 55 percent over the closing price on January 18, 2008, the last trading day before the Company announced that it was exploring strategic alternatives. Based on Getty’s 61 million fully diluted shares, the cash offer is worth almost $2.1 billion. The buyer is also assuming about $300 million in debt, pushing the total value of the transaction to $2.4 billion. The company’s shares have immediately jumped $7.22, or 29.5 percent, to $31.67 Monday. The company had more than $850M revenues for 2007.

Ten-year-old Getty, whose nearest competitor is privately held Corbis Corp., put itself up for sale in January after taking a beating on Wall Street for two years. After reaching a high above $94 per share in November 2005, Getty’s shares tumbled 77 percent to $21.80 in Jan. 18 of this year, as higher costs ate away at profits. Four days later, the Seattle-based company said it would consider strategic alternatives to boost shareholder value.

The Board of Directors of Getty Images has approved the merger agreement and resolved to recommend that Getty Images’ stockholders approve the transaction. Completion of the transaction is subject to shareholder approval and other customary closing conditions. The transaction is not subject to a financing condition and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2008.

“Our Board of Directors has thoroughly evaluated strategic alternatives for Getty Images and has determined that this outcome is in the best interests of our stockholders as it provides them with superior and certain value. Furthermore, Hellman & Friedman brings specific industry expertise and support for the vision of the Company’s management team that will benefit our employees, customers and partners,” said Jonathan Klein, co-founder and chief executive officer of Getty Images. “Just over a decade ago we started Getty Images with little more than a vision and have achieved industry leadership due to the extraordinary talent, effort and commitment of our employees and partners. We are enthusiastic about entering the next phase of Getty Images’ evolution by partnering with Hellman & Friedman as we continue to provide innovative offerings to businesses and consumers in a very dynamic digital media environment.”

Andy Ballard, managing director of Hellman & Friedman, said, “Getty Images is the leader and pioneer in the visual content and digital media business. We believe in the vision and execution capabilities of Jonathan Klein and his team, and share their commitment to the Company’s stakeholders and customers. We look forward to working with all of Getty Images’ employees to realize the full potential of its traditional businesses while furthering the evolution of Getty Images into a global digital media company.”

Financing commitments have been provided by Barclays Capital, GE Commercial Finance and RBS Greenwich Capital. In addition, Getty Investments and certain related parties, including the co-founder and chairman, Mark Getty, who collectively hold approximately 15 percent of the Company’s shares, have agreed to vote in favor of the transaction and rollover their shares into the acquiring entity.

Goldman, Sachs & Co. was the financial advisor to Getty Images. Barclays Capital and RBS Greenwich Capital are acting as financial advisors to Hellman & Friedman. Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP are serving as legal advisors to Getty Images and Hellman & Friedman, respectively.

Troy Mastin, an analyst at William Blair & Co., said Getty’s core business of selling more-expensive photographs to newspapers and magazines had declined as those media struggled with the rise of Internet content. Sales to direct mail and brochure customers also cooled.

At the same time, though, Getty’s newer businesses grew faster. The company bought iStockPhoto.com, which sold images for as little as $1 for unlimited use, in 2006. Mastin said customers who once bought the low end of Getty’s core stock photos moved over to buy the even cheaper royalty-free photos.

The company has also bought Pump Audio last summer, and bought Scoopt about a year ago. They have strengthened their positions in  both the music and citizen journalism business with both acquisitions, as well as being a solid friend to the independent and freelance journalist with their wire service.

While Getty didn’t give a specific reason for its January decision to seek a buyer, Mastin said it was likely because Getty felt Wall Street was paying more attention to the stagnating core business than to its emerging segments.

It has probably also something to do with the rapidly emerging web 2.0 companies within the space.

More about Getty Images

Getty Images creates and distributes the world’s best and broadest imagery collections, making them available in the most accessible and usable way — 24 hours a day, every day. From contemporary creative imagery to news, sports, entertainment and archival imagery, our products are found each day in the full range of traditional and digital media worldwide.

Mark Getty and Jonathan Klein founded Getty Images in 1995 with the goal of turning a disjointed and fragmented stock photography market into a thriving, modernized industry able to meet the changing needs of visual communicators. We were the first company to license imagery via the web, moving the entire industry online.

Today, gettyimages.com serves an average of 3.2 billion thumbnails, 7.3 million visits and 4 million unique users in addition to an average of 175 million page views each month. Nearly 100 percent of the company’s visual content is delivered digitally.

The company frequently receives industry recognition for both its photography and its business accomplishments. In 2005, American Photo Magazine acknowledged the company’s commitment to the photography industry, naming Getty Images’ co-founders Jonathan Klein and Mark Getty as number one of “The 100 Most Important People in Photography.”

We believe our success comes from our focus on the areas that matter most to our customers:

Simplicity. We built a one-of-a-kind platform to help customers find and manage the right images, and in a few short years it has become the industry standard. We provide the most accessible and reliable way to search, download, license and manage the broadest and deepest selection of relevant still images and film clips.

Expedience. To serve the demands of a fully digital publishing industry, we provide instantaneous feed of news, sport and entertainment images as well as painstaking archival research. We also offer a full-service photo assignment service that can be tailored to your exact photographic needs.

Relevance. We are the first imagery company to employ creative researchers to analyze demographics, sales data and behavioral trends to anticipate the visual content needs of the world’s communicators.

Experience. Our photographers are subject-matter specialists with years of experience, not generalists — a distinction that helps ensure that our images capture defining moments and deep insights.

About Hellman & Friedman

Hellman & Friedman LLC is a leading private equity investment firm with offices in San Francisco, New York and London. The Firm focuses on investing in superior business franchises and serving as a value-added partner to management in select industries including media and marketing services, financial services, professional services, information services, healthcare and energy. Since its founding in 1984, Hellman & Friedman has raised and, through its affiliated funds, managed over $16 billion of committed capital and is currently investing its sixth partnership, Hellman & Friedman Capital Partners VI L.P., with over $8 billion of committed capital. Representative investments in media and marketing services include: DoubleClick Inc., Catalina Marketing Corporation, Young & Rubicam Inc., Digitas Inc., The Nielsen Company, and Axel Springer AG.

The private equity group has invested in other rapidly changing digital businesses, including online advertising company Digitas, acquired by Publicis Groupe, and DoubleClick, whose buyout by Google Inc. is pending regulatory approval in Europe.

Hellman & Friedman LLC has also some recent acquisitions of non-tech companies like Saipem SA, which is oil and gas related organization, and a number of smaller private equity firms.

More

http://www.gettyimages.com/
www.hf.com
http://corporate.gettyimages.com/source/about/
http://corporate.gettyimages.com/source/investors/index.aspx?pageID=financialReleases&shPage=releaseDetail.cfm&ReleaseID=295764
http://finance.google.com/finance?q=GYI+&hl=en
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Getty
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Klein_%28Getty_Images%29
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/feb/25/mediabusiness.digitalmedia?gusrc=rss&feed=media
http://mashable.com/2008/02/27/getty-images-buyout/
http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2008/02/26/getty_images_accepts_buyout/
http://www.macworld.com/article/132247/2008/02/getty.html
http://www.cnn.com/2008/BUSINESS/02/25/getty.images.ap/index.html
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2004199788_apgettyimagessale25.html
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23333922/
http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/080225/getty_images_sale.html
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/352615_getty26.html
http://mashable.com/2007/03/12/scoopt-acquired-by-getty-images/
http://www.pehub.com/article/articledetail.php?articlepostid=10502
http://mashable.com/2007/06/20/getty-images-acquires-pump-audio/
http://www.newratings.com/en/main/company_headline.m?section=company&option=headline&id=1703741

Yahoo makes an acquisition of its own – the online video platform Maven Networks

Undeterred by the threat of a hostile takeover Microsoft imposed over them a couple of weeks ago Yahoo seems to have completed an acquisition of its own Tuesday by buying online video service Maven Networks Inc. for $160 million.

The deal marks Yahoo’s latest attempt to expand its online advertising network and more concrete its online video advertising in particular. Yahoo plans to use Maven’s technology to host video for media partners and incorporate Maven’s video-ad insertion technology into its overall advertising platform.

The talks to buy Cambridge, Mass.-based Maven began before Microsoft announced its bid Feb. 1, said Tim Cadogan, Yahoo’s senior vice president of marketing products. Maven helps television and movie studios find Web sites to show their videos and manage the accompanying advertisements. The six-year-old startup works with a wide range of media outlets, including CBS Sports, Gannett Co., News Corp., Hearst Corp. and Sony Pictures.

“We think video is going to become the third leg of the advertising stool,” said Cadogan. Ads tied to search requests is currently the Internet’s biggest moneymaker, followed by so-called display ads featuring photos, illustrations and other images.

As of December, Yahoo held a 3.4 percent share of the U.S. online video market, lagging far behind Google, whose ownership of industry leader YouTube.com gave it nearly one-third of the market, according to comScore Inc.

Yahoo plans to retain Maven’s roughly 70 employees even as it completes plans to lay off 1,000 workers in other divisions as part of a plan announced two days before Microsoft’s bid.

More about Maven Networks

Maven Networks is an online video platform provider with end-to-end video syndication, content management and advertising solution. Maven helps media companies create, distribute and profit from direct-to-consumer Internet TV channels and networks. The Maven Internet TV Platform(TM) is used by organizations such as CanWest, CBS Sports, CBC, CNET, Gannett, The Financial Times, Fox Business Network, Fox News, Hearst, MediaNews Group, Ogilvy, Scripps Networks, Sony BMG, Sony Pictures Television, and TV Guide.

The company is based in Cambridge, MA. Maven had some high-profile investors, including Accel Partners‘ Jim Breyer, who also is a board member and large investor in Facebook, Walmart Stores, Inc.  and Marvel Entertainment. Accel is known to have been investing heavly in video for almost 20 years now. The firm’s more popular participations include Macromedia, Real Networks, among others. Current investments include user-generated video-sharing site MetaCafe, peer-to-peer file-sharing service BitTorrent and Brightcove.

The Market

Video advertising is promising to be huge opportunity online and the sector is extremely competitive with new players entering every couple of weeks. Venture capitals also do think the online video advertising holds the chances to be the next big thing on Internet to bring billions of revenues in and are pouring big money into start-ups with the hope they come up to the groundbreaking technology that might shake the sector and make them the huge ROI.   

No matter what standard for video ads the sector might adopt – pre-roll ads, mid-roll adspost-roll ads, watermark ads, viral ads or overlay ads, the undisputed leader remains Google’s YouTube with its huge number of eyeballs. That’s why the smaller players are focusing not on the reach but on different approaches and technologies to more effectively serve, track and measure these video ads. The video ads are in their infancy on Web and there is plenty of room for innovation and growth and all those small start-up companies hold their good chances for success.

Some companies, as we know them, include BlackArrow, BrightRoll, XillianTVPodaddies, VMIX and MeeVee. BrightRoll video ad network itself has raises $5 Million while VMIX, yet another video network company has also raised a whopping amount of money $16.5M to expand its business. Other video advertising players include Revver, VideoEgg’s TheEggNetwork, ScanScout, Adap.tv, AdBrite’s InVideo platform, BroadRamp and Blinkx.

eMarketer predicts online video advertising to nearly double in 2008 to $1.3 billion and $4.3B by 2011, but no one’s really nailed a scalable ad platform for video. However, Google’s been quietly testing their own system and there are a bunch of other startups tackling it as well.

Meanwhile the Microsoft / Yahoo saga is continuing.

The common expectations of the most likely outcome from the situation are that Microsoft is going to increase its bid to as much as $35 thus effectively raising their bid to $50B.

“We think (Microsoft) will have to enhance its offer if it wants to complete a deal,” wrote Bill Miller, a respected fund manager for Legg Mason Inc., which owns more than 80 million Yahoo shares.

Like many other industry analysts, Miller predicted Yahoo ultimately will end up in Microsoft’s clutches.

“We think it will be hard for (Yahoo) to come up with alternatives that deliver more value than (Microsoft) will ultimately be willing to pay,” he wrote.

Miller also wrote that he has already met with Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive, and spoken to Jerry Yang, Yahoo’s CEO and co-founder, to share his views.

Microsoft, on the other side, so far has indicated it’s not budging from its original offer, calling the proposal “full and fair.” Analysts believe the tense mating dance will last at least a few more weeks.

Yahoo has been discussing a search advertising partnership with the market leader, Google Inc., as a way to boost its profits and thwart Microsoft’s bid. But a deal between Google and Yahoo would face significant antitrust hurdles because it would meld the two largest search advertising networks, causing more analysts to conclude an alliance is unlikely.

On the other side it seems that News Corp. is going to enter the bidding war for Yahoo! despite some analyses from earlier this week predicting News Corp. is facing hard time to find enough money to accomplish this major deal. The current debt markets in US were to be blamed.

Today we have found on multiple news sources online that Yahoo and News Corp. are in the middle of series of discussions. The potential deal structure would spin off Fox Interactive Media (MySpace, IGN, Scout Media, Photobucket, Fox Sports, AmericanIdol.com, Flektor, Ksolo; investments in Hulu, Simply Hired and Snocap) into Yahoo, along with a big cash injection from News Corp. and an unnamed private equity fund. The total investment would be valued in the $15B range.

Yahoo would be valued at somewhere around $50 billion before the transaction, north of Microsoft’s $44.6 billion bid. That would leave News Corp., plus the private equity group, with more than 20% of the combined entity. They’d be the largest single stockholder and effectively in control of the combined Yahoo/FIM entity and their nearly 150 billion monthly page views. That amount of traffic/reach would put the combined entity on the globe’s second sport after Google and before Microsoft’s web properties.

In related news Bradley Horowitz, head of Yahoo’s Advanced Technology Division has accepted a position with Google, and have left Yahoo for good. He will be working with Joe Kraus, director of product management and head of Google’s OpenSocial initiative. Bradley joined Yahoo in May 2004 as Director of Multimedia Search, and later worked on Yahoo Desktop Search and the Yahoo Toolbar. He has also played a key role in getting the Flickr acquisition done.

More

http://www.maven.net/
http://www.maven.net/blog/
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080213/ap_on_hi_te/yahoo_acquisition_8;_ylt=AkolBf3dTEHaJIbfAWroBXbZa7gF
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/31/rumor-yahoo-to-announce-large-video-acquisition-today/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/12/yahoo-confirms-maven-networks-acquisition/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/12/yahoo-exec-bails-bradley-horowitz-leaves-for-google/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/12/yahoo-and-news-corp-continue-marathon-discussions-possible-bid-to-counter-microsoft/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/2/yahoo__news_corp__deal_still_in_the_works_
http://yhoo.client.shareholder.com/press/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=293433
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/maven-networks
http://venturebeat.com/2008/02/12/qa-with-jim-breyer-maven-networks-online-video-opportunities-and-facebook/
http://venturebeat.com/2008/01/31/yahoo-buying-maven-networks-to-serve-online-video-ads-for-big-media/
http://www.elatable.com/blog/about/

And here is what Microsoft has to tell Yahoo!

The saga continues. Following the firm “NO” of Yahoo as of yesterday, Microsoft has put up today an official press release responding to the Yahoo!’s NO with “Reiterates Full and Fair Proposal for Microsoft-Yahoo! Combination”

REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 11 — Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) today issued the following statement in response to the announcement by Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) that its Board of Directors has rejected Microsoft’s previously announced proposal to acquire Yahoo!:

It is unfortunate that Yahoo! has not embraced our full and fair proposal to combine our companies. Based on conversations with stakeholders of both companies, we are confident that moving forward promptly to consummate a transaction is in the best interests of all parties. We are offering shareholders superior value and the opportunity to participate in the upside of the combined company. The combination also offers an increasingly exciting set of solutions for consumers, publishers and advertisers while becoming better positioned to compete in the online services market. A Microsoft-Yahoo! combination will create a more effective company that would provide greater value and service to our customers. Furthermore, the combination will create a more competitive marketplace by establishing a    compelling number two competitor for Internet search and online advertising. The Yahoo! response does not change our belief in the strategic and financial merits of our proposal. As we have said previously, Microsoft reserves the right to pursue all necessary steps to ensure that Yahoo!’s shareholders are provided with the opportunity to realize the value inherent in our proposal.

On February 1, 2008, Microsoft announced a proposal to acquire all the outstanding shares of Yahoo! common stock for per share consideration of $31 representing a total equity value of approximately $44.6 billion and a 62 percent premium above the closing price of Yahoo! common stock based on the closing prices of the stocks of both companies on Jan. 31, 2008, the last day of trading prior to Microsoft’s announcement. Microsoft’s proposal would allow the Yahoo! shareholders to elect to receive cash or a fixed number of shares of Microsoft common stock, with the total consideration payable to Yahoo! shareholders consisting of one-half cash and one-half Microsoft common stock.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

This communication does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any securities or a solicitation of any vote or approval. This material is not a substitute for the prospectus/proxy statement Microsoft Corporation would file with the SEC if an agreement between Microsoft Corporation and Yahoo! Inc. is reached or any other documents which Microsoft Corporation may file with the SEC and send to Yahoo! shareholders in connection with the proposed transaction. INVESTORS AND SECURITY HOLDERS OF YAHOO! INC. ARE URGED TO READ ANY SUCH DOCUMENTS FILED WITH THE SEC CAREFULLY IN THEIR ENTIRETY WHEN THEY BECOME AVAILABLE BECAUSE THEY WILL CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE PROPOSED TRANSACTION.

Investors and security holders will be able to obtain free copies of any documents filed with the SEC by Microsoft Corporation through the web site maintained by the SEC. Free copies of any such documents can also be obtained by directing a request to Investor Relations Department, Microsoft Corporation, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, Washington 98052-6399.

Microsoft Corporation and its directors and executive officers and other persons may be deemed to be participants in the solicitation of proxies in respect of the proposed transaction. Information regarding Microsoft Corporation’s directors and executive officers is available in its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended June 30, 2007, which was filed with the SEC on August 8, 2007, and its proxy statement for its 2007 annual meeting of shareholders, which was filed with the SEC on September 29, 2007. Other information regarding the participants in a proxy solicitation and a description of their direct and indirect interests, by security holdings or otherwise, will be contained in any proxy statement filed in connection with the proposed transaction.

Statements in this release that are “forward-looking statements” are based on current expectations and assumptions that are subject to risks and uncertainties. Actual results could differ materially because of factors such as Microsoft Corporation’s ability to achieve the synergies and value creation contemplated by the proposed transaction, Microsoft Corporation’s ability to promptly and effectively integrate the businesses of Yahoo! Inc. and Microsoft Corporation, the timing to consummate the proposed transaction and any necessary actions to obtain required regulatory approvals, and the diversion of management time on transaction-related issues. For further information regarding risks and uncertainties associated with Microsoft Corporation’s business, please refer to the “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Risk Factors” sections of Microsoft Corporation’s SEC filings, including, but not limited to, its annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, copies of which may be obtained by contacting Microsoft Corporation’s Investor Relations department at (800) 285-7772 or at Microsoft Corporation’s website at http://www.microsoft.com/msft.

All information in this communication is as of the date hereof. Microsoft Corporation undertakes no duty to update any forward-looking statement to conform the statement to actual results or changes in the company’s expectations.

While reading over different blogs and news stories we came across an interesting view.

Some experts do not accept the fact that people think Yahoo has little to no options left but to accept Microsoft’s offer. The first group says it is not true – Yahoo is having plenty of options to pursue.

It seems like the most obvious “option” would be for Yahoo to ship great products and radically improve the experience of its customers — this is essentially the process the executive team was busy with before this unsolicited bid came on the scene.

While it may be hard for some to imagine that Yahoo would suddenly get its groove back, Apple fought back from a much worse position (remember $6/share?). For all the posturing on both sides, the real underlying question is which ownership configuration would create the most value for customers and communities on a long term run. It would be tragic for a myopic push for short-term shareholder value (and/or acquisition price) to eclipse that more fundamental discussion.
If Yahoo is “massively undervalued,” it’s because its board believes that an independent company has much more long term potential than a combined company would. Microsoft clearly disagrees, and on a financial basis, their “premium” looks impressive, but imagine the world if Microsoft had swooped in and purchased Apple when they were hurting at $6/share… Would that be a better world?

That’s the question we should all be asking — not what sale price is fair.

On the other hand other people claim that Yahoo’s execs had enough time to prove themselves. That said the similarity with Apple ends at comparison of share price. Apple grew their customer base as a result of their actions and that ultimately led to their resurgence. Even though it wasn’t long ago, it was a different time, different place, different environment, and ultimately different people.

If there is a clear monetization plan for products that bring value over what MS is offering, then the Yahoo team should bring that front and center. It sounds as though the Yahoo exec team is saying “just give us more time, and we’ll get it figured out”.

Given how long they’ve been in play, I think the confidence from shareholders in this team to execute on a plan that brings more value than a MS merger is a tough sell right now.

If one takes a look from different perspective if Yahoo! thinks for itself of being “massively undervalued” then it turns out that Yahoo thinks the market was wrong. Some are even going further by asking is Yahoo! arrogant? ‘Massively undervalued’ – Compared to what? Are they that arrogant that they claim that the ‘actual value’ of the company is ANYTHING else than the value assigned by the stock market? It is pretty ballsy to claim that a bid 30% over market value is an under valuation and could basically mean ‘Our company is worth more but we are so bad at making the value visible that no one understands it’

Some of these thoughts were shared with the public on one of the popular tech blogs and credits were to be given if the commentators were not anonymous.

More

http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/11/yahoo%e2%80%99s-official-response-to-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer-no/
http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/080211/aqm241.html
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=yhoo
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?d=t&s=msft
http://money.cnn.com/2008/02/09/magazines/fortune/yahoo_rejects_bid_report.fortune/?postversion=2008020914
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fffc1006-d5e8-11dc-bbb2-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1
http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2008/02/05/yahoo-the-five-scenario-analysis/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/08/yahoo-board-to-determine-fate-of-company-today/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/02/is-google-going-to-be-the-winner-from-the-microsoft-yahoo-deal/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/04/google%e2%80%99s-chief-legal-officer-vs-microsoft%e2%80%99s-general-counsel/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/01/yes-we-were-right-yahoo-was-seriously-undervalued-microsoft-offers-446b-for-the-company-a-62-premium-over-their-value-from-yesterday/
http://www.techmeme.com/080201/p78#a080201p78
http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_8149194
http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/feb2008/tc2008021_885192.htm?chan=rss_topStories_ssi_5
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/02/AR2008020200568.html
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/02/MN8OUQGNB.DTL&type=tech
http://kara.allthingsd.com/20080201/microsoft-to-yahoo-two-days-to-respond-or-else/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/hold-everything-we-may-get-another-yhoo-bidder.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/what-would-a-combined-microsoft-yahoo-look-like/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/ballmers-internal-e-mail-to-the-troops-explaining-the-yahoo-acquisition/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/02/news-corp-scrambles-to-bid-for-yahoo/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/microsoft-yahoo-combined-financials.html
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/08/one-after-another-the-potential-competitive-bidders-for-yahoo-drop-off-is-yahoo-going-to-surrender-to-microsoft/
http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=206107168
http://mashable.com/2008/02/10/yahoo-aol-merger/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/10/wait-yahoo-and-aol-i-was-looking-forward-to-something-moreintelligent/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/09/microsofts-80-billion-and-growing-yahoo-headache/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/09/end-of-speculations-yahoo-rejected-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer

Yahoo’s official response to Microsoft’s offer: NO!

After we reported the strong NO of Yahoo! to Microsoft over the weekend (Saturday) here is the official response of the Yahoo!’s board of directors.

Yahoo! Board of Directors Says Microsoft’s Proposal Substantially Undervalues Yahoo!

SUNNYVALE, Calif., Feb 11, 2008 — Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO), a leading global Internet company, today said the Yahoo! Board of Directors has carefully reviewed Microsoft’s unsolicited proposal with Yahoo!’s management team and financial and legal advisors and has unanimously concluded that the proposal is not in the best interests of Yahoo! and our stockholders.

After careful evaluation, the Board believes that Microsoft’s proposal substantially undervalues Yahoo! including our global brand, large worldwide audience, significant recent investments in advertising platforms and future growth prospects, free cash flow and earnings potential, as well as our substantial unconsolidated investments. The Board of Directors is continually evaluating all of its strategic options in the context of the rapidly evolving industry environment and we remain committed to pursuing initiatives that maximize value for all stockholders.

Goldman, Sachs & Co., Lehman Brothers and Moelis & Company are acting as financial advisors to Yahoo!. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is acting as legal advisor to Yahoo!, and Munger Tolles & Olson LLP is acting as counsel to the outside directors of Yahoo!.

About Yahoo! Inc.

Yahoo! Inc. is a leading global Internet brand and one of the most trafficked Internet destinations worldwide. Yahoo! is focused on powering its communities of users, advertisers, publishers, and developers by creating indispensable experiences built on trust. Yahoo! is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California. For more information, visit pressroom.yahoo.com.

Yahoo! and the Yahoo! logos are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Yahoo! Inc. All other names are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

Meanwhile speculations and rumors about potential major merger between Yahoo! and AOL emerged today. This appears to us to be more as incentive for Microsoft to increase its offer for Yahoo! rather than anything real behind. We see little to no synergies between Yahoo! and AOL, aside a few such as instant messaging or the combined eyeballs and the potential deal does not address the major problem of Yahoo!, which is Google.

More

http://money.cnn.com/2008/02/09/magazines/fortune/yahoo_rejects_bid_report.fortune/?postversion=2008020914
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fffc1006-d5e8-11dc-bbb2-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1
http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2008/02/05/yahoo-the-five-scenario-analysis/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/08/yahoo-board-to-determine-fate-of-company-today/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/02/is-google-going-to-be-the-winner-from-the-microsoft-yahoo-deal/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/04/google%e2%80%99s-chief-legal-officer-vs-microsoft%e2%80%99s-general-counsel/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/01/yes-we-were-right-yahoo-was-seriously-undervalued-microsoft-offers-446b-for-the-company-a-62-premium-over-their-value-from-yesterday/
http://www.techmeme.com/080201/p78#a080201p78
http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_8149194
http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/feb2008/tc2008021_885192.htm?chan=rss_topStories_ssi_5
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/02/AR2008020200568.html
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/02/MN8OUQGNB.DTL&type=tech
http://kara.allthingsd.com/20080201/microsoft-to-yahoo-two-days-to-respond-or-else/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/hold-everything-we-may-get-another-yhoo-bidder.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/what-would-a-combined-microsoft-yahoo-look-like/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/ballmers-internal-e-mail-to-the-troops-explaining-the-yahoo-acquisition/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/02/news-corp-scrambles-to-bid-for-yahoo/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/microsoft-yahoo-combined-financials.html
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/08/one-after-another-the-potential-competitive-bidders-for-yahoo-drop-off-is-yahoo-going-to-surrender-to-microsoft/
http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=206107168
http://mashable.com/2008/02/10/yahoo-aol-merger/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/10/wait-yahoo-and-aol-i-was-looking-forward-to-something-moreintelligent/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/09/microsofts-80-billion-and-growing-yahoo-headache/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/09/end-of-speculations-yahoo-rejected-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer

End of speculations: Yahoo rejected Microsoft’s offer

Internet giant Yahoo’s board has decided to reject Microsoft’s takeover bid, saying its 44.6 billion dollar offer “massively undervalues” Yahoo, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier today.

Yahoo’s board also believes the Microsoft offer, at 31 dollars per share, does not account for risks facing Yahoo if it pursues a deal that might be ultimately blocked by government regulators.

“Yahoo’s board believes that Microsoft’s is trying to take advantage of the recent weakness in the company’s share price to ‘steal’ the company,” the board further said.

“Yahoo’s board appears to be betting that Microsoft doesn’t want to ‘go hostile’ and try to acquire the company against the wishes of management and the board,” it also said.

Reports today lacked some facts, but they are not totally off mark. A couple of days ago we were researching online for information and commentaries on the scenarios most possible for the outcome of the Microsoft/Yahoo deal and Citigroup’s Mark Mahaney has speculated with several possible roads for Yahoo to take. Aside other speculative scenarios he played with 40% (the highest) weight was given for the chance Yahoo rejecting the Microsoft’s offer with the only mission to have the offer increased with a few dollars per share, which according to him is the most likely outcome. He was right but is he also right for the reason Yahoo is today rejecting the Microsoft’s bid.

Is there any chance for Microsoft to increase its offer?

On February 1 Microsoft unveiled its 44.6 billion dollar offer to take over Yahoo, in an effort to merge the world’s biggest software company with a major Internet player to take on search and advertising juggernaut Google.

Microsoft proposed 31 dollars per share to Yahoo’s board, a 62 percent premium above its closing price the previous day.

Microsoft said a combination of the companies would lead to cost savings of a billion dollars per year.

But Yahoo chief executive Jerry Yang sent a message to employees on Wednesday, assuring them the firm’s leaders were exploring ways to avoid a Microsoft takeover.

“Our board is thoughtfully evaluating a wide range of potential strategic alternatives in what is a complex and evolving landscape,” Yang wrote in the email.

“What’s become clear in the past few days is how much people care about this company. I’ve heard from many of you, and from other friends and colleagues from around Silicon Valley and across the globe, that we need to do what’s best for Yahoo and our shareholders.”

Google earlier condemned Microsoft’s effort as an attack on the very independence of the Internet.

“Microsoft’s hostile bid for Yahoo raises troubling questions,” said David Drummond, Google’s senior vice president for corporate development and chief legal officer, in a statement Sunday.

“This is about more than simply a financial transaction, one company taking over another. It’s about preserving the underlying principles of the Internet: openness and innovation.”

Update: A few people asked us why the logo of Microsoft/Google appears on the story and not a combined one of Microsoft/Yahoo? Because it is all about the battle between Microsoft and Google and Yahoo! appears to be an instrument. Congrats to Yahoo! though for firmly opposing the MS’s hostile bid!

 

More

http://money.cnn.com/2008/02/09/magazines/fortune/yahoo_rejects_bid_report.fortune/?postversion=2008020914
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fffc1006-d5e8-11dc-bbb2-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1
http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2008/02/05/yahoo-the-five-scenario-analysis/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/08/yahoo-board-to-determine-fate-of-company-today/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/02/is-google-going-to-be-the-winner-from-the-microsoft-yahoo-deal/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/04/google%e2%80%99s-chief-legal-officer-vs-microsoft%e2%80%99s-general-counsel/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/01/yes-we-were-right-yahoo-was-seriously-undervalued-microsoft-offers-446b-for-the-company-a-62-premium-over-their-value-from-yesterday/
http://www.techmeme.com/080201/p78#a080201p78
http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_8149194
http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/feb2008/tc2008021_885192.htm?chan=rss_topStories_ssi_5
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/02/AR2008020200568.html
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/02/MN8OUQGNB.DTL&type=tech
http://kara.allthingsd.com/20080201/microsoft-to-yahoo-two-days-to-respond-or-else/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/hold-everything-we-may-get-another-yhoo-bidder.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/what-would-a-combined-microsoft-yahoo-look-like/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/ballmers-internal-e-mail-to-the-troops-explaining-the-yahoo-acquisition/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/02/news-corp-scrambles-to-bid-for-yahoo/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/microsoft-yahoo-combined-financials.html
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/08/one-after-another-the-potential-competitive-bidders-for-yahoo-drop-off-is-yahoo-going-to-surrender-to-microsoft/
http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=206107168


 

One after another the potential competitive bidders for Yahoo drop off; is Yahoo going to surrender to Microsoft?

A few days ago we were trying to analyze who is going to eventually make a counter offer to match or outbid the Microsoft’s $46B offer for Yahoo!.

By that time multiple sources were reporting counter offers are in preparation by competitive bidders trying to snatch Yahoo! before Microsoft does it. We then exclude Google from the list of potential bidders for Yahoo! because some experts cited a 75 percent market share in the paid-search advertising market worldwide if Google/Yahoo deal happens and therefore Google is prevented by antitrust laws from buying Yahoo.

Another rumor was that a big private equity firm from New York is going to enter the bidding war for Yahoo!. No more news for that mystical white knight from New York has ever appeared publicly, so we put that aside. 

Another potential bidder being rumored on a few blogs was the New York-based Quadrangle Partners. Yahoo’s former president, Dan Rosensweig recently joined the firm to open the Silicon Valley office and Quadrangle also has deep media expertise. Yahoo! is after all more like a major media company with Internet nuance rather than pure technology company like, for example, Google.

Nothing happened here and we can clearly erase that bidder from the list too.

Other sources were reporting that News Corp is also frantically trying to put together a competing bid, with the help of private equity firms. This makes sense, given News Corp’s previous interest in trading MySpace for a big Yahoo equity stake. News Corp can’t afford to do the whole deal, but it could certainly provide some funding in exchange for some equity.

Nothing happened here too so we do assume News Corp has given up to fight for Yahoo! – Microsoft has simply put the price tag too high and is effectively preventing other players from offering anything even nearly close to their bid.

Today we learn that Softbank, the Japanese telecommunications and internet group, yesterday said it had no intention of selling its 41 per cent stake in Yahoo Japan after Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo. They also stated they have no intention of selling our Yahoo Japan stake. Mr. Masayoshi Son also said that Softbank, which owns 3.9 per cent of Yahoo, had no plans to take part in a counter-bid for the US company, which owns 33 per cent of Yahoo Japan.

Japan, by the way, is one of the few markets in which Yahoo remains the dominant search engine. Yahoo Japan also operates the country’s leading auction site Ebay.

Clearly Softbank is out of the game too. Anyone else? We hear and read nobody is proposing any counter bid for Yahoo!, so we have only Microsoft left in the game. A few days ago Citigroup’s Mark Mahaney has speculated with several possible roads for Yahoo to take. Aside other speculative scenarios he played with 40% (the highest) weight was given for the chance Yahoo rejecting the Microsoft’s offer with the only mission to have the offer increased with a few dollars per share, which according to him is the most likely outcome.

We have read over a few blogs that Yahoo has scheduled a special board of directors meeting on Friday, which we guess is to finally decide on what the company’s course is going to be. After a though week of dramatic events and speculations, it’s clear that no one is going to step in with a competing acquisition so we are getting nearer to witness a major deal between Microsoft and Yahoo!.  We guess we all learn more in the next few days.

Update: A few people asked us why the logo of Microsoft/Google appears on the story and not a combined one of Microsoft/Yahoo? Because it is all about the battle between Microsoft and Google and Yahoo! appears to be an instrument. Congrats to Yahoo! though for firmly opposing the MS’s hostile bid!

 

More

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fffc1006-d5e8-11dc-bbb2-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1
http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2008/02/05/yahoo-the-five-scenario-analysis/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/08/yahoo-board-to-determine-fate-of-company-today/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/02/is-google-going-to-be-the-winner-from-the-microsoft-yahoo-deal/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/04/google%e2%80%99s-chief-legal-officer-vs-microsoft%e2%80%99s-general-counsel/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/01/yes-we-were-right-yahoo-was-seriously-undervalued-microsoft-offers-446b-for-the-company-a-62-premium-over-their-value-from-yesterday/
http://www.techmeme.com/080201/p78#a080201p78
http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_8149194
http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/feb2008/tc2008021_885192.htm?chan=rss_topStories_ssi_5
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/02/AR2008020200568.html
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/02/MN8OUQGNB.DTL&type=tech
http://kara.allthingsd.com/20080201/microsoft-to-yahoo-two-days-to-respond-or-else/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/hold-everything-we-may-get-another-yhoo-bidder.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/what-would-a-combined-microsoft-yahoo-look-like/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/ballmers-internal-e-mail-to-the-troops-explaining-the-yahoo-acquisition/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/02/news-corp-scrambles-to-bid-for-yahoo/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/microsoft-yahoo-combined-financials.html

An acquisition within the 3-D modeling space

While everybody is waiting to see what is going to happen between Microsoft and Yahoo, the first made yet another technology acquisition – bought the 3D modeling and animation software company called Caligari to further improve its Virtual Earth. Caligari appears to be not the typical web 2.0 company one might think of at first reading – they have been established back in 1986. Terms, typically for Microsoft’s small buys, were not disclosed.

Roman Ormandy, the CEO of Caligari (he has personally very interesting story which you can ready below), stated in a post yesterday in his company’s online forum that his staff as well as the people tasked with building Virtual Earth since the start are committed to a vision ensuring a “long-term commitment to the 3D Web.”

Caligari offers a range of products for 3D enthusiasts and illustrators, researchers and design engineers. All of Caligari’s products feature an immersive real-time interface that allows users to intuitively and directly manipulate objects in a fully-rendered 3D space, thus enhancing and accelerating the overall design process.

The motivation behind this deal seems quite clear – competing with Google and its popular Google Earth/Maps developments.

Interesting fact to note is that in a similar move Google has acquired a similar company back in 2006 called SketchUp, which is also 3-D modeling software that is now used to place 3-D objects inside Google Earth.

The company is based in Mountain View, CA.

The company was founded in 1986 by Roman Ormandy. A prototype 3D video animation package for the Amiga Computer, which led to the incorporation of Octree Software in 1986. From 1988 to 1992, Octree released several software packages including Caligari1, Caligari2, Caligari Broadcast, and Caligari 24. Caligari wanted to provide inexpensive yet professional industrial video and corporate presentation software. In 1993 Octree Software moved from New York to California and became known as Caligari Corporation. In 1994 trueSpace 1.0 was introduced on the Windows platform.

Interesting videos for trueSpace can be seen on YouTube.

More about Caligari Corporation

Founded in 1986, Caligari Corporation is one of the pioneers of 3D modeling and animation. Throughout our history, Caligari has focused on providing powerful, intuitive and affordable tools that enable users to communicate visually, whether the end product is a web page, a fully-rendered image, a 3D model or an interactive simulation. Today, we continue to drive innovation to the 3D authoring process in markets that range from design and engineering to biomedicine and entertainment. The release of trueSpace7 has opened new doors in 3D by providing our users with something that no other 3D company has ever offered: real-time collaborative authoring.

Caligari offers a range of products to satisfy everyone from 3D enthusiasts to illustrators, researchers and design engineers. All of Caligari’s products feature an immersive real-time interface that allows users to intuitively and directly manipulate objects in a fully-rendered 3D space, thus enhancing and accelerating the design process.

In January of 2006, after 20 years of uninterrupted development, Caligari released the 12th generation of its flagship product, trueSpace. Not only has Caligari enhanced the award-winning modeling, surfacing and rendering capabilities of trueSpace; we have revolutionized the way 3D content is created, communicated and shared with others. trueSpace7 is the only 3D authoring product on the market to offer all aspects of real-time design, modeling and animation within a virtual 3D space shared by remote participants over the broadband internet. trueSpace7’s easy-to-use authoring tools are seamlessly integrated into the underlying collaborative process. The trueSpace7 collaboration server enables multiple participants to connect to a shared 3D space to create and manipulate shared content in real-time.

Other products include gameSpace and iSpace. gameSpace offers game artists high-end 3D authoring capabilities at a low-end price. gameSpace provides all the tools game artists need for modeling, texturing, animating, UV mapping, and more; and comes with the built-in ability to export content to multiple game engine formats.

iSpace is an innovative 3D web graphics solution that allows web developers to easily create stunning 3D web pages in HTML and Macromedia Flash format. With iSpace, web designers can import existing 2D HTML pages, convert them into 3D and enhance their layout with easy-to-use styles and graphical elements such as buttons, lights, animations and 3D text. iSpace is also a complete assembly platform, allowing the user to combine .jpg, .gif, and Flash files in the same workspace to quickly and easily create integrated HTML outputs.

The Founder

Born in 1955 in Czechoslovakia, Roman Ormandy obtained an advanced degree in Computer science from Komensky University in Bratislava in 1980. He then undertook post-graduate studies in artificial intelligence, psychology and linguistics at Charles University in Prague. In 1981, he received a research fellowship in the University’s Laboratory for Computational Linguistics.

Later that same year, Ormandy defected to Italy while on “holiday” in Yugoslavia. He spent several months in an Italian refugee camps while his wife, Bibiana, was still in Czechoslovakia. A year later Ormandy was joined in America by Bibiana and their 18-month old son, whom he had never seen, after their dramatic flight across the Yugoslavian border.

Ormandy’s first job in the United States was in a suitcase factory making cases for Apple IIC computers. He then worked in the computer lab of Lexington School for the deaf while attending the graduate program in Computer Science at City University in New York. In 1983, he landed a job programming IBM graphics software for educational applications for Classroom Consortia Media. While here, he authored two educational applications and BrainChild, a software game design for the IBM PC Jr. In 1985, Ormandy became a computer graphics consultant for Edwin Schlossberg Inc., designing interactive laser disc applications and other components of the information system for Manhattans’ World Financial Center.

Ormandy began working on the prototype for a 3D video animation package for the Amiga computer in 1985. The prototype generated intense interest following a preview of Siggraph ’86 Conference. In the fall of 1986, Ormandy incorporated Octree Software, initially working part-time to get his new company off the ground. In 1988 he switched to full-time with the introduction of Caligari, aimed at the industrial video, design and corporate presentation markets. Ormandy grew very interested in creating a more realistic user interface to optimize human physiology and inspired by the belief that creativity would be radically increased if the designer was given direct contact with 3D objects in the workspace.

Two years later, Caligari Broadcast was introduced, offering professional quality 3D animation at a fraction of the cost of comparable systems. Because of its real-time, direct manipulation of objects in real-life perspective, Caligari allowed the computer user to transcend the 2D environment and explore new creative territory of its own.

In April, 1994, Caligari further revolutionized the 3D market by introducing trueSpace 1.0 for Windows, a powerful, usable 3D modeling, rendering and animation package that combined real-time direct manipulation of objects and professional-quality output with an easy-to-learn, icon-based interface. trueSpace’s affordable price, seamlessly integrated organic modeling, photorealistic ray-tracing, broadcast-quality animation and unprecedented ease-of-creation modeling tools created a phenomenon of response in the adolescent 3D market. Its highly usable VR-style immersive interface encouraged experimentation, stimulated creativity and gave users the ability to create stunning renderings and animation easily.

Today the award-winning trueSpace legacy continues unbroken, with the latest version, trueSpace7, still based on the same principles of making professional power available to users while keeping the software easy to use and affordable. Caligari has also expanded the product range to include gameSpace, which allows users to create 3D content for games, and truePlace, an on-line meeting place for social networking, distance learning, and collaboration.

Roman Ormandy and Caligari’s introduction of trueSpace helped redefine how people can create and communicate in media. He believes one of the most far-reaching possibilities is the creation of a new form of knowledge repository based not on symbols, but living, breathing 3D objects encapsulating knowledge into code and shared in collaborative on-line environments.

More

http://www.caligari.com/
http://forums1.caligari.com/truespace/showthread.php?p=59557#post59557
http://mashable.com/2008/02/07/microsoft-acquires-caligari-3d/
http://virtualearth.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!2BBC66E99FDCDB98!11432.entry
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/07/microsoft-buys-caligari-to-pimp-up-virtual-earth/
http://www.caligari.com/Gallery/Animations/2007/jan/anim/2912.wmv
http://sketchup.google.com/
http://www.engadget.com/2007/03/07/playstation-home-revealed/
http://redmondspy.blogspot.com/2008/02/microsoft-kauft-3d-experten-caligari.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TrueSpace
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_type=search_videos&search_query=truespace&search_sort=&search_category=0&page=4
http://lunadude.com/rsrc_trueSpace.htm