Category Archives: Search Engines

2008’s Most Popular Web 2.0 Sites

Today we are living in web 2.0 times more than ever before. PR, press coverage, buzz, evangelism, lobbying, who knows who, who blogs who, who talks about who, mainstream media and beyond – all of those words found in the dictionary of almost every new web site that coins itself as web 2.0, but as the global economy crisis is raising upon us promising to leave us working in a very depressed business environment with little to no liquidation events at all for the next years the real question is: who the real winners in today’s web 2.0 space are based on real people using their web properties since 2005 the web 2.0 term was coined for first time. Since then we have witnessed hundreds of millions of US dollars poured into different web 2.0 sites, applications and technologies and perhaps now is the time to find out which of those web sites have worked things out. We took the time necessary to discover today’s most popular web 2.0 sites based on real traffic and site usage and Not on buzz or size of funding. Sites are ranked based on the estimated traffic figures. After spending years in assessing web 2.0 sites applying tens of different from economical and technological to media criteria in an effort to evaluate them we came up to the conclusion that there is only one criterion worth our attention and it is the real people that use a given site, the traffic, the site usage, etc., based on which the web site can successfully be monetized. Of course, there are a few exceptions from the general rule like sites with extremely valuable technologies and no traffic at all, but as we said, they are exceptions. Ad networks, web networks, hosted networks and group of sites that use consolidated traffic numbers as their own or such ones that rely on the traffic of other sites to boost their own figures (ex.: various ad networks, Quantcast, WordPress etc.) are not taken into consideration and the sites from within those respective networks and groups have been ranked separately. International traffic is of course taken into consideration. Add ons, social network apps and widgets usage is not taken into consideration. Sub-domains as well as international TLDs part of the principal business of the main domain/web site are included. Media sites including such covering the web 2.0 space have also been included. Old buys from the dot com era are not considered and ranked accordingly.

Disclaimer: some data based on which the sites below are ranked may not be complete or correct due to lack of public data available for the traffic of respective sites. Please also note that the data taken into consideration for the ranking may have meanwhile changed and might possibly be no longer the same at the time you are reading the list. Data has been gathered during the months of July, August, September and December 2008.

Today’s most popular Web 2.0 sites based on the traffic they get as measured during the months of July, August and September 2008.

Priority is given to direct traffic measurement methods wherever applicable. Panel data as well as toolbar traffic figures are not taken into cosndieration. Traffic details as taken from Quantcast, Google Analytics*, Nielsen Site Audit, Nielsen NetRatings, comScore Media Metrix, internal server log files*, Compete and Alexa. Press release, public relation and buzz traffic and usage figures as they have appeared in the mainstream and specialized media are given with lower priority unless supported by direct traffic measurement methods.

*wherever applicable

Web Property / Unique visitors per month

  1. WordPress.com ~ 100M
  2. YouTube.com ~ 73M
  3. MySpace.com ~ 72M
  4. Wikipedia.org ~ 69M
  5. Hi5.com ~ 54M
  6. Facebook.com ~ 43M
  7. BlogSpot.com ~ 43M
  8. PhotoBucket.com ~ 34M
  9. MetaCafe.com ~ 30M
  10. Blogger.com ~ 27M
  11. Flickr.com ~ 23M
  12. Scribd.com ~ 23M
  13. Digg.com ~ 21M
  14. Typepad.com ~ 17M
  15. Imeem.com ~ 17M
  16. Snap.com ~ 15.7M
  17. Fotolog.com ~ 15.6M
  18. RockYou.com ~ 15M
  19. Veoh.com ~ 12M
  20. Wikihow.com ~ 12M
  21. Topix.com ~ 11.5M
  22. Blinkx.com ~ 11M
  23. HuffingtonPost.com ~ 11M
  24. Technorati.com ~ 10.6M
  25. Wikia.com ~ 10.8M
  26. Zimbio.com ~ 10.3M
  27. SpyFu.com ~ 10.1M
  28. Heavy.com ~ 9.3M
  29. Yelp.com ~ 8.9M
  30. Slide.com ~ 8.5M
  31. SimplyHired.com ~ 8.5M
  32. Squidoo.com ~ 8.1M
  33. LinkedIn.com ~ 7.5M
  34. HubPages.com ~ 7.2M
  35. Hulu.com ~ 7.1M
  36. AssociatedContent.com ~ 7M
  37. Indeed.com ~ 5.4M
  38. LiveJournal.com ~ 5.2M
  39. Bebo.com ~ 5.1M
  40. Habbo.com ~ 4.9M
  41. Fixya.com ~ 4.5M
  42. RapidShare.com ~ 4.5M
  43. AnswerBag.com ~ 4.4M
  44. Metafilter.com ~ 4.3M
  45. Crackle (Grouper) ~ 4M
  46. Ning.com ~ 3.8M
  47. Breitbart.com ~ 3.8M
  48. BookingBuddy.com ~ 3.7M
  49. Kayak.com ~ 3.6M
  50. Blurtit.com ~ 3.2M
  51. Kaboodle.com ~ 3M
  52. Meebo.com ~ 2.9M
  53. Friendster.com ~ 2.7M
  54. WowWiki.com ~ 2.8M
  55. Truveo.com ~ 2.7M
  56. Trulia.com ~ 2.7M
  57. Twitter.com ~ 2.5M
  58. BoingBoing.net ~ 2.4M
  59. Techcrunch.com ~ 2.2M
  60. Zillow.com ~ 2.2M
  61. MyNewPlace.com ~ 2.2M
  62. Mahalo.com ~ 2.1M
  63. Vox.com ~ 2M
  64. Last.fm ~ 2M
  65. Glam.com ~ 1.9M
  66. Multiply.com ~ 1.9M
  67. Popsugar.com ~ 1.6M
  68. Addthis.com ~ 1.5M
  69. Pandora.com ~ 1.4M
  70. Brightcove.com ~ 1.4M
  71. LinkedWords.com ~ 1.3M
  72. Devshed.com ~ 1.3M
  73. AppleInsider.com ~ 1.3M
  74. Newsvine.com ~ 1.3M
  75. Fark.com ~ 1.2M
  76. BleacherReport.com ~ 1.2M
  77. Mashable.com ~ 1.2M
  78. Zwinky.com ~ 1.2M
  79. Quantcast.com ~ 1.2M
  80. StumbleUpon.com ~ 1.1M
  81. SecondLife.com ~ 1.1M
  82. Magnify.net ~ 1.1M
  83. Uncyclopedia.org ~ 1M
  84. Weblo.com ~ 1M
  85. Del.icio.us ~ 1M
  86. Reddit.com < 1M
  87. Pbwiki.com < 1M
  88. AggregateKnowledge.com < 1M
  89. Eventful.com < 1M
  90. Dizzler.com < 1M
  91. Synthasite.com < 1M
  92. Vimeo.com < 1M
  93. Zibb.com <1M

Web 2.0 sites having less than 1M unique visitors per month even though popular in one way or another are not subject of this list and are not taken into consideration. We know for at least 100 other considered really good web 2.0 sites, apps and technologies of today, but since they are getting less than 1M uniuqes per month they were not able to make our list. However, sites being almost there (850K-950K/mo) and believed to be in position to reach the 1M monthly mark in the next months are also included at the bottom of the list. Those sites are marked with “<“, which means close to 1M, but not yet there. No hard feelings :).

If we’ve omitted one site or another that you know is getting at least 1M uniques per month and you are not seeing it above, drop us a note at info[at]web2innovations.com and we’ll have it included. Please note that the site proposed should be having steady traffic for at least 3 months prior submission to the list above. Sites like, for example: Powerset and Cuil, may not qualify for inclusion due to their temporary traffic leaps caused by buzz they have gotten, a criterion we try to offset. For other corrections and omissions please write at same email address. Requests for corrections of the traffic figures the sites are ranked on can only be justified by providing us with the accurate traffic numbers from reliable direct measurement sources (Quantified at Quantcast, Google Analytics, Nielsen Site Audit, Nielsen NetRatings, comScore Media Metrix, internal server log files, other third party traffic measurement services that use the direct method. No panel data, no Alexa, no Compete etc. will be taken into consideration).

* Note that ranks given to sites at w2i reflect only our own vision for and understanding of the site usage, traffic and unique visitors of the sites being ranked and does not necessarily involve other industry experts’, professionals’, journalists’ and bloggers’ opinions. You acknowledge that any ranking available on web2innovations.com (The Site) is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as investment advice or a recommendation that you, or anyone you advise, should buy, acquire or invest in any of the companies being analyzed and ranked on the Site, or undertake any investment strategy, based on rankings seen on the Site. Moreover, if a company is described or mentioned in our Site, you acknowledge that such description or mention does not constitute a recommendation by web2innovations.com that you engage or otherwise use such web site.

The full list

An Innovative Search Engine Module Was Released

New search engines are ready today!

An innovative search engine module was released to enhance and add value to your company’s existing digital assets.

On October 15, 2008, a multi-dimensional search engine module, MDCache was released by Netsolutions, Inc. It’s a Java library with a simple API to search data by multiple keys efficiently & effortless.

mdcache logoThis software makes it possible to develop web 2.0 ready, unique search engines; such as recommendation engine, image search engine, sound search engine, correlation analysis, location search engine & pattern recognition engine. Check out http://mdcache.com/ for more details.

Multi-dimensional Search Engine
Multi-dimensional searching means searching with multiple keys. MDCache makes it possible to search complex data more efficiently than general databases. It also enables high-performance searching by multiple keys without distributed processing of multiple servers such as with MapReduce. The main benefit is that it can be utilized for converting existing digital assets into unique web 2.0 ready applications -or- new generation search engines at a much lower cost.

Background of MDCache
A database has become an essential commodity for businesses, and using databases in general is popular in today’s digital world. On the other hand, there are case studies of successful players who provide valuable services based on unique data models. The unique data models come from their independent research and analysis. MDCache was developed to produce unique data models by utilizing existing digital assets easily & efficiently.

MDCache Defined
MD is an abbreviation for multi-dimensional. Cache means data storage to retrieve efficiently. MDCache was named as a multi-dimensional caching solution which enables developments to go beyond the limitations of general databases; while utilizing existing digital assets effectively.

About Netsolutions, Inc.
Netsolutions, Inc. is a start-up IT company located at the bottom of Mt. Fuji in Japan. The idea of different scales, realizing unique networks and the greatest possible attention to detail are what make Netsolutions a dynamic, results-driven organization.

Via EPR Network

More Software press releases

 

LinkedWords.com – the consolidated traffic for the entire 2008 is expected to be in the 10 Million range

Launched back in the middle of 2006 LinkedWords has essentially proven over the past years to be very effective vehicle in helping web sites get contextually linked on a content area level so that Internet users and smart robots discover their information in context. Since then the contextual platform has rapidly grown from 30,000 uniques per month back in its early days during 2006 to over 1 million unique visitors per month these past months of 2008.

The successful formula seems to be simple yet very effective: the higher the number of small to mid level sites’ content areas contextually linked in LW’s platform – the higher the number of contextually targeted unique visitors shared among those web sites linked in.

Both Google Analytics and Quantcast measured traffic are now reporting for over 1,000,000 unique visitors per month.

Some interesting facts in regard to the site’s traffic and usage to note are:

1) The 400,000 unique visitors’ mark per month was surpassed for first time in April 2007;

2) For the entire 2007 LW ended up with more than 4,500,000 unique visitors to its contextual platform;

3) For the period of 12 months between Apr 2007 and Apr 2008 LW ended up with more than 7,700,000 unique visitors to its contextual platform;

4) The highest number of monthly visitors so far was encountered during the month of April 2008 when the platform had more than 1,300,000 uniques;

5) 47,564 is the highest number of daily unique visitors ever happened so far, which occurred on April 07, 2008;

This year (2008) was however not all glorious for LinkedWords. During the month of April ’08 their platform has experienced an unprecedented growth in the traffic reaching over 1.3M unique visitors, which resulted in a failure on one of the servers in their cluster causing major downtime. The impacted period was from Friday, April 25 to Friday, May 16, 2008. Millions of unique visitors to LW were said to have been affected. It took them more than 4 months to completely recover both their platform and their reach.

Despite the major downtime that took place during the entire month of May ’08 and had later affected the traffic for a period of several months starting from May and ending on August ’08 considerably slowing it down the anticipated consolidated traffic for the entire 2008 is expected to be in the 10M range, which is double increase from 2007.

About LinkedWords

LinkedWords (LW) is an innovative contextual platform built upon millions of English words and phrases organized into contextual categories, paths, and semantic URLs whose mission is to maximize contextual linking among web sites across the Web.

 

Via EPR Network

Via LinkedWords’ Blog

The modern Boo.com and pets.com

Just like their ancestors Boo.com and pets.com during the dot com boom times companies like Geosign and Capazoo have also spent huge amounts of money in no time and reached nothing but grand failures. But unlike those dot com stars from the past, which at least had serious business models, their modern equivalents from the web 2.0 times can barely be called real businesses.

Under no doubt the most prominent case from the past days is the $160M funding GeoSign took last year and spent in less than a year going belly up. The major lesson learned here is that the click/search arbitrage is dead. If you don’t believe us take a look at GeoSign today. Let’s put it that way Google killed them, and for reason. Given the amount of money flowing to Google, most in Geosign thought the search engine would turn a blind eye, but as it turned out Google is more concerned for its legitimate advertisers and that users would lose interest and faith in the online ad system, if more practices like the one GeoSign kept on exploiting spread across the web than earning several millions of companies like GeoSign.

The media and the bloggers called it that way: “A record $160-million VC investment. A rich Web strategy. A quirky founder. For a few weeks last spring, Guelph, Ont.’s Geosign had it all. Then mighty Google stirred. And it was over.” Now one understands why this company was so quiet over the past year despite the fact it took what is called the biggest ever venture capital funding for a technology company based in Canada.

What is anyway click/search arbitrage?

Essentially, search arbitrage involves an individual or company buying Internet traffic through the acquisition of keywords from Google, then sending viewers who click on the ad links to a site (“landing page” in Google terminology) that appears to have content, but is actually just full of online advertising linked to the original search term. Anyone clicking an ad link there makes money for the keyword holder. For example, a company might bid for the Google rights to the phrase “small town car sales” and send traffic to a website it controls, filled with more car advertisements, called “Alltheautomotive.com.” The keyword cost only 20¢, while a click on the advertising on the website might yield $1.50 return. According to Niki Scevak, an analyst at Jupiter Research in New York, the majority of those initially involved in search arbitrage were small players. “These were guys running search arbitrage out of their basements, making maybe $20,000 a month,” he says.

One of them, it seems, was Geosign. Former Geosign insiders who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirm that the possibility of a big payoff in search arbitrage caught Nye’s attention after he created Geosign. What’s more, he envisioned a network of thousands of websites all automated by software linking keywords to pages filled with ads, returning millions in cash in the process.

By 2005 that was exactly what was happening. Nye crafted a maze of Internet sites that included tens of thousands of Web pages and bought up even more keywords from Google. By connecting the keywords and the websites, Geosign was indeed generating more than $100 million in annual revenue and was extremely profitable. To put a value on the company at this time, analyst Scevak points to Marchex Inc., a publicly traded company in Seattle, Wash., with a comparable business model. At its peak in 2006, Marchex had a market capitalization of US$500 million.

The change in atmosphere had everything to do with measures that Google was taking to rein in those doing search arbitrage. This action was a response to two main concerns. First, that the practice was becoming so widespread, it was hurting legitimate advertisers by artificially inflating keyword prices. And second, that if too many keyword-targeted ad links only took users to pages filled with other ads, that users would lose interest and faith in the online ad system. Obviously, with advertising revenue being the key to Google’s finances, it had to respond. It did so by expanding the terms of service for its AdSense program (published on its website) to place greater restrictions on the way links could be used and by spelling out detailed landing page and site quality guidelines. A top priority there: relevant and original content. By these standards, a landing page full of ads is inadequate – as this text in its current guideline explains: “Provide substantial information. If your ad does link to a page consisting mostly of ads or general search results (such as a directory or catalog page), provide additional, unique content.” Since most companies doing search arbitrage bought both their keywords and landing page ads through Google, it was easy for the company to isolate and monitor them. Non-compliant parties risked being banned from the AdSense program. A simpler tactic, however, saw Google target those abusing the process, raising their fees and making it too costly to continue.

The end came suddenly, well before GeoSign to change the direction of its business. Google had started to look more closely at companies like Geosign, which were buying keywords from Google and ad links from Yahoo! or another provider. And soon Geosign got word that Google would now begin penalizing its Web pages that had “a low landing page quality score” – that is, lots of ads and little or no original content. While Google won’t comment specifically about Geosign, sources say it raised the prices it charged Geosign for keywords overnight. “When Google ‘shuts you down,’ that isn’t exactly what they do,” explains Jupiter’s Scevak. “Instead, what they do is start charging you $50 for what they were charging 10¢ for previously. They make the model financially unfeasible.”

GeoSign’s website is already taken down and is no longer publicly accessible.

The second popular crash down case from the last week is the one of Capazoo.

Capazoo is also based in Canada and is labeled a social networking site. The site has taken $25M in several rounds to date, which as it seems, have also been spent over the past 12 months before the company’s failure. But this is not the only interesting thing  in the story. After firing most of its staff leaving only one sysadmin to keep the site alive and put its offices up for rent some more horrible stories from ex-employees appeared publicly.

It seems that the brothers Michel Verville and Luc Verville (the company’s founders) have had fighting in court for control over the company. Another rumor goes that that the brothers embezzled money from the company. Simply put the guys were taking commissions in the 10% range from all money invested in their company. Capazoo’s $25 million was initially listed as only being “private funding” but more recently National Lampoon became an investor.

Techcrunch has some insider information as listed below:

They did the first round ($8 million) at $72 million pre-money from a bunch of athletes and non-sophisticated angels at $100k-$200k chunks. Most of them didn’t know that management was taking 10% commission themselves (despite owning all the common shares) for all funds raised.

They then raised another $5-10 million (conflicting rumors) at a $132 million pre-money, while still taking commissions. The two brothers took almost $2 million out of the company before reaching more then 10K users and ballooned the staff to 130 staff before starting to do layoffs.

Capazoo’s site is still alive as we last checked it out but for how long one sysadmin can keep it that way?

Well, compared to the 2 cases from above the next one seems relatively small, yet it worth mentioning due to the fact that it seems the founder of that company Lee Wilkins did not pay his employees from Bulgarian, Romania and Russia.

The company name is MyKinda and was a blog network focused on the Eastern European market covering various topics like politics, entertainment, business, among other topics. 

The network is said to have launched just last September and today they are already out of business. Lee Wilkins said the shutdown is temporary to ensure that money due to writers doesn’t continue to add up. The sites will remain down until, he says, “we redefine a more profitable sustainable business model.” The company had total expenses of about €319,000, with no advertising revenue to offset it. Lee Wilkins capitalized the company with €175,000, leaving €144,000 or so in unpaid debts.

Today was the first day in several years where the failure stories were more than the funding deals. In fact we bookmarked 3 funding deals for today so it appears the number is equal.

More

http://www.geosign.com/
http://www.capazoo.com/
http://www.mykinda.com/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/18/how-geosign-blew-160-million/
http://www.financialpost.com/magazine/story.html?id=324817
http://seoblackhat.com/2008/03/18/they-were-flyin-high-then-google-stirred/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/19/capazoo-blows-25-million-heading-to-the-deadpool/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/29/blog-network-mykinda-to-shut-down-today/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/18/national-lampoon-takes-stake-in-capazoo/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/10/capazoo-wants-to-pay-you-for-your-social-networking-time/
http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/business/story.html?id=474dae19-551c-4460-9359-328c570fc36c
http://montrealtechwatch.com/2008/03/19/capazoo-lays-off-60-shops-itself/
http://communities.canada.com/MONTREALGAZETTE/blogs/tech/archive/2008/03/18/r-i-p-capazoo.aspx
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/11/05/mykinda-blog-network-for-eastern-europe-launches-amid-serious-drama/

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
 

Google invests more in DNA projects

After having spent almost $4M on 23andMe, which plans to make the human genome searchable and whose founder is the wife of Google’s Sergey Brin, last year and is in heavy preparation for the launch of the Google Health, Google has now financially backed a project from a Harvard University scientist to unlock the secrets of common diseases by decoding the DNA of 100,000 people.

The project is said will be the largest human genome sequencing project in the world, and may lead to new cures for disease. Under the public information available it is a Harvard University scientist and OrbiMed Advisors LLC that plan to unlock the secrets of common diseases by decoding the DNA.

Harvard’s George Church plans to spend $1 billion to tie DNA information to each person’s health history, creating a database for finding new medicines. The U.S., U.K., China and Sweden this year began working together to decipher the genetic makeup of 1,000 people at a cost of $50 million.

Google, owner of the most popular Internet search engine, is looking for ways to give people greater control over their medical data. The amount of money donated to the Church by Google is not disclosed publicly. Google also said last week that it would work with the Cleveland Clinic to better organize health records.

Church’s plan “would be the largest human genome sequencing project in the world,” Stephen Elledge, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, said in a telephone interview with Bloomberg. “The genetic variations are what make people different, and we need to understand the connections to human disease. They’ll get a tremendous amount of information from this,” said Elledge, who isn’t involved in the project.

Church, who helped develop the first direct genomic sequencing method in 1984, said that while he plans to enroll 100,000 participants, he may not end it there – the plan might be to go for 1 million.

If we can expand the project, we’ll probably go for a million genomes, Church said. Since 1984, Church has advised 22 companies including Helicos Biosciences Inc., which recently began selling high-speed gene sequencers, and 23andMe.

The current project may ideally fit with the overall strategy of Google Health, which is in launching stage now. Google Health plans to help people manage their medical records and test results so they can be shared safely and privately with various specialists. Genomic data may eventually be included, said Marissa Mayer, vice president for search products.

The further involvement of Google into the DNA space has very negative impact on the public markets for some of the current players such as Helicos Biosciences Inc., Illumina, Applied Biosystems and Danaher, which all have their stock declined after the announcement and have lost part of their market capitalization.

Church has already partially sequenced genomes from 10 people, and the jump to 100,000 is under review by a Harvard ethics panel.

About George Church

George Church is Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Center for Computational Genetics. His 1984 Harvard PhD included the first direct genomic sequencing method. He co-initiated the Human Genome Project a few months later as a postdoctoral fellow at Biogen & UCSF. Innovations include molecular multiplexing & tags, homologous recombination methods, array DNA synthesizers & automated sequencing & software (used at Genome Therapeutics Corp. for the first commercial genome sequence — human pathogen, H. pylori, 1994). Current research focuses on the Personal Genome Project & synthetic biology.

More

http://arep.med.harvard.edu/gmc/
http://www.google.com/
http://www.orbimed.com/
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601082&sid=a9FTNggspOLs&refer=canada
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/29/google-invests-in-dna-sequencing-project/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/23andme
http://23andme.com/press.html

ETech, the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference is coming

One of the most important technology conferences for the year will be held in March 3-6 in San Diego, California. ETech the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference, now in its seventh year, will take a wide-eyed look at the brand new tech that’s tweaking how we are seen as individuals, how we choose to channel and divert our energy and attention, and what influences our perspective on the world around us. How does technology help you perceive things that you never noticed before? How does it help you be found, or draw attention to issues, objects, ideas, and projects that are important, no matter their size or location?

Below is what the 2008 version of ETech, the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference will look at. 

Body Hacking. Genomics Hacking. Brain Hacking. Sex Hacking. Food Hacking. iPhone Hacking.
If you can’t open it, you don’t own it. Take over the everyday aspects of your life and take your senses to the next level.

DIY Aerial Drones. DIY Talking Things. DIY Spectrum. DIY Apocalypse Survival.
As technology becomes more accessible you’ll get to do it all on your own. Self-empowerment starts here.

Emerging Tech of India, Cuba, and Africa. International Political Dissidents.
Different environments incubate new ideas and technologies. What these societies bring out will shake up your cultural assumptions and provide a wider world view.

Visualize Data and Crowds. Ambient Data Streaming.
Dynamic systems require new methods of data capture and interaction. Open a window on the methods experts use to interpret and harness collective intelligence.

Good Policy. Energy Policy. Defense Policy. Genetic Policy. Corruption.
Policy inevitably lags behind technology advances. Learn about some areas where it’s catching up, where it’s not, and how these boundaries shape our creativity and freedom.

Alternate Reality Games. Emotions of Games. Sensor Games.
Games provide a platform for experimentation on so many levels. The ones we’ll see engage their players in new and unexpected ways.

ETech 2008 will cover all of these topics and more. We put on stage the speakers and the ideas that help our attendees prepare for and create the future, whatever it might be. Great speakers are going to pull us forward with them to see what technology can do… and sometimes shouldn’t do. From robotics and gaming to defense and geolocation, we’ll explore promising technologies that are just that–still promises–and renew our sense of wonder at the way technology is influencing and altering our everyday lives.

“There’s more good stuff here, more new directions, than we’ve had at ETech in years, which is only to be expected, as the market starts to digest the innovations of Web 2.0 and we are now featuring the next wave of hacker-led surprises.” Read more of Tim O’Reilly’s thoughts on why ETech is our most important conference.

Registered Speakers

Below are listed all confirmed speakers to date.

Dan Albritton (MegaPhone)
Chris Anderson (Wired Magazine)
W. James Au (The Making of Second Life)
Trevor Baca (Jaduka)
Tucker Balch (Georgia Tech)
Kevin Bankston (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
Andrew Bell (Barbarian Group LLC)
Emily Berger (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
Violet Blue (Violet Blue)
Ed Boyden (MIT Media Lab & Dept. of Biological Engineering)
Gary Bradski (Stanford and Willow Garage)
Tom Carden (Stamen Design)
Liam Casey (PCH International)
Elizabeth Churchill (Yahoo! Research)
Cindy Cohn (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
Steve Cousins (Willow Garage)
Bo Cowgill (Google Economics Group)
Mike Culver (Amazon)
Jason Davis (Disney Online)
Regine Debatty (We Make Money Not Art)
Danielle Deibler (Adobe Systems)
Michael Dory (NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP))
Nathan Eagle (MIT)
Alvaro Fernandez (SharpBrains.com)
Timothy Ferriss (The 4-hour Workweek)
Eric Freeman (Disney Online)
Limor Fried (Adafruit Industries)
Johannes Grenzfurthner (monochrom, and University of Applied Sciences Graz)
Saul Griffith (Makani Power/Squid Labs)
Karl Haberl (Sun Microsystems, Inc.)
Jury Hahn (MegaPhone)
Justin Hall (GameLayers)
Jeff Han (Perceptive Pixel, Inc.)
Timo Hannay (Nature Publishing Group)
Marc Hedlund (Wesabe)
J. C. Herz (Batchtags LLC)
Todd Holloway (Ingenuity Systems)
Pablos Holman (Komposite)
Tom Igoe (Interactive Telecommunications Program, NYU)
Alex Iskold (AdaptiveBlue)
Brian Jepson (O’Reilly Media, Inc.)
Natalie Jeremijenko (NYU)
Jeff Jonas (IBM)
Tim Jones (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
Terry Jones (Fluidinfo)
Damien Katz (IBM – CouchDB)
Nicole Lazzaro (XEODesign, Inc.)
Elan Lee (Fourth Wall Studios)
Jan Lehnardt (Freisatz)
Lawrence Lessig (Creative Commons)
Kati London (area/code)
Kyle Machulis (Nonpolynomial Labs)
Daniel Marcus (Washington University School of Medicine)
Mikel Maron (Mapufacture)
John McCarthy (Stanford University)
Ryan McManus (Barbarian Group LLC)
Roger Meike (Sun Microsystems, Inc.)
Chris Melissinos (Sun Microsystems, Inc.)
Dan Morrill (Google)
Pauline Ng (J. Craig Venter Institute)
Quinn Norton
Peter Norvig (Google, Inc.)
Nicolas Nova (Media and Design Lab)
Danny O’Brien (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
Tim O’Reilly (O’Reilly Media, Inc.)
David Pescovitz (BoingBoing.net, Institute for the Future, MAKE:)
Bre Pettis (I Make Things)
Arshan Poursohi (Sun Microsystems, Inc.)
Marc Powell (Food Hacking)
Jay Ridgeway (Nextumi)
Hugh Rienhoff (MyDaughtersDNA.org)
Jesse Robbins (O’Reilly Radar)
Eric Rodenbeck (Stamen Design)
David Rose (Ambient Devices)
Dan Saffer (Adaptive Path)
Joel Selanikio (DataDyne.org)
Peter Semmelhack (Bug Labs)
Noah Shachtman (Wired Magazine)
Michael Shiloh (OpenMoko)
Kathy Sierra (Creating Passionate Users)
Micah Sifry (Personal Democracy Forum)
Adam Simon (NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP))
Michael J. Staggs (FireEye, Inc.)
Gavin Starks (d::gen network )
Alex Steffen (Worldchanging)
John Storm (ind)
Stewart Tansley (Microsoft Research)
Paul Torrens (Arizona State University)
Phillip Torrone (Maker Media)
Kentaro Toyama (Microsoft Research India)
Gina Trapani (Lifehacker)
Nate True (Nate True)
Lew Tucker (Radar Networks)
Andrea Vaccari (Senseable City Lab, MIT)
Scott Varland (NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP))
Merci Victoria Grace (GameLayers)
Mike Walsh (Tomorrow)
Stan Williams (Hewlett-Packard Labs)
Ethan Zuckerman (Global Voices)

Attendee Registration

You can register as an attendee online or by Mail/Fax at the following address:

O’Reilly Media, Inc.
Attn: ETech Registration
1005 Gravenstein Hwy North
Sebastopol, CA 95472
Fax: (707) 829-1342

The conference fees are as follows (through Jan 29 – Mar 2 )
Sessions plus Tutorials $1,690.00
Sessions Only $1,390.00
Tutorials Day Only $595.00

Walk-ins: Standard registration closes March 2, 2008. The onsite registration fee is an additional $100 to the Standard Price above. 

More about ETech

Now in its seventh year, the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference hones in on the ideas, projects, and technologies that the alpha geeks are thinking about, hacking on, and inventing right now, creating a space for all participants to connect and be inspired. ETechs past have covered peer-to-peer networks to person-to-person mobile messaging, web services to weblogs, big-screen digital media to small-screen mobile gaming, hardware hacking to content remixing. We’ve hacked, blogged, ripped, remixed, tracked back, and tagged to the nth. Expect much of what you see in early form here to show up in the products and services you’re taking for granted in the not-too-distant future.

ETech balances blue-sky theorizing with practical, real-world information and conversation. Tutorials and breakout sessions will help you inject inspiration into your own projects, while keynotes and hallway conversation will spark enough unconventional thinking to change how you see your world.

More then 1200 technology enthusiasts are expected to attend ETech 2008, including:

  • Technologists
  • CxOs and IT managers
  • Hackers and grassroots developers
  • Researchers and academics
  • Thought leaders
  • Business managers and strategists
  • Artists and fringe technologists
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Business developers and venture capitalists

Representatives from companies and organizations tracking emerging technologies
In the past, ETech has brought together people from such diverse companies, organizations, and projects as: 37signals, Adaptive Path, Amazon.com, Attensa, August Capital, BBC, Boeing, CBS.com, Comcast, Department of Defense, Disney, E*Trade, Fairfax County Library, Fidelity Investments, Fotango, France Telecom, General Motors, Honda, IEEE, Intel, Macromedia, Meetup, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, Mozilla, National Security Agency, New Statesman, Nielsen Media Research, Nokia, NYU, Oracle, Orbitz, Platial, Salesforce.com, Sony, Starwood Hotels, Symantec, The Motley Fool, UC Santa Barbara Kavli Institute, Zend, and many more.

Some of ETech’s past sponsors and exhibitors include: Adobe, Aggregate Knowledge, Apple, AT&T, Attensa, eBay, Foldera, Google, IBM, Intuit, iNetWord, Laszlo, MapQuest, mFoundry, Root, RSSBus, Salesforce.com, Sxip, TechSmith, Tibco, Windows Live, Yahoo!, and Zimbra.

The conference is expected to gather some of the brightest minds of today’s technology world and Web in particular. 
More

http://conferences.oreilly.com/etech/
http://en.oreilly.com/et2008/public/content/home
http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2008/01/why-etech-is-oreillys-most-imp.html
 

Microsoft’s stock has fallen 13% since its offer for Yahoo

We have read tons of stories and points of views about the potential deal between Microsoft and Yahoo over the past weeks. We guess all people did. Everything seems already being said about the deal. Yet, something interesting popped up in the news today. It turns out that Microsoft is the big loser from the situation with Yahoo’s acquisition because it has lost 13% of its market capitalization since it has announced its bid to buy Yahoo almost a month ago.

After Microsoft’s stock has fallen 13% since its offer for Yahoo, the Microsoft’s offer price seems to have also been reduced to $29 – $41.7B as of today. Yahoo shares, by contrast, closed at $29.66 on the NASDAQ on Friday, indicating that investors’ expectations are for Microsoft to raise its bid.

While the software giant’s founder and chairman has taken a back seat to CEO Steve Ballmer in the Yahoo bid, Gates wasted no time in tempering expectations if Microsoft failed in its effort to buy Yahoo.

Chairman Bill Gates said yesterday that they are not planning to raise the bid for Yahoo and called the current offer “very fair.” Instead Bill Gates said they are having plans to invest heavily — and they said they can afford it — in anything but web search to compete against Google, with or without Yahoo. Just like what we have always been thinking — it is all about Microsoft vs. Google and Yahoo was only an instrument — Gates’s statement reconfirms it: “Google is the only company with “critical mass” in Web search.”

Yet, he admits that they’d get there faster if the great engineering work that Yahoo has done and the great engineers there were part of the common effort

“There is nothing new in terms of the process. We’ve sent our letter and we’ve reinforced that we consider that it’s a very fair offer,” said Gates, who remains the public face of Microsoft, even though he plans to switch to a part-time role at the company in June to focus on his philanthropic work.

What will happen with the stock prices of both companies if a deal does not go thru? We think both companies will get punished by the public market and have their stock prices reduced. Yahoo’s hit is expected to be stronger. 

More

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

Qunar, a Chinese travel search engine, raised $10 million

Chinese web 2.0 market is hot up to the point where large-scale financial institution like Lehman Brothers has jumped on a travel start-up. Qunar.com is an online travel search engine that we’ve just found out it has raised $10M in its 2nd round a couple of months ago. The investment in the company was led by Lehman Brothers Private Equity and was joined by return backers GSR Ventures and Mayfield Fund.

The company is based in Beijing, China and was launched in 2005 and means “where are you going?” in Mandarin Chinese. The company was founded by Douglas Khoo, CC Zhuang, and Fritz Demopoulos who had founded and sold the CSEEK search engine to News Corporation and founded and sold the Shawei.com portal to The Tom Group.

Essentially Qunar provides a price comparison engine that leads users to transactions. Qunar makes most of its income from advertising fees. That concept and business model is not something new on Internet but is perhaps in its infancy in the huge Chinese market and Qunar is trying to tap into it.

Qunar is said that it expects to break even consistently in 2008 and it may seek an IPO listing in 2010 or 2011, either in Hong Kong or on the Nasdaq in US.

The market

As from what we were able to dig up Qunar competes with Ctrip and eLong, but analysts predict that it will grow 40%-50% year-over-year for the next couple of years. Qunar has been developing partnerships to get into the Japanese and Korean markets. Under no doubt the major global players on the online travel market are companies like Expedia.com, Hotwire.com, Orbitz.com, Priceline.com, Travelocity.com, TripAdvisor, Kayak, Mobissimo, among others.

Travel remains the single largest component of e-commerce according to Forrester Research, a consulting firm in Cambridge, Mass. But despite the dominance of online travel agency heavyweights as the companies cited above, most users consult multiple Web sites when shopping online for travel. The average consumer visits 3.6 sites when shopping for an airline ticket online, according to PhoCusWright, a Sherman, CT-based travel technology firm. Yahoo claims 76% of all online travel purchases are preceded by some sort of search function, according to Malcolmson, director of product development for Yahoo Travel. The 2004 Travel Consumer Survey published Jupiter Research released an interesting fact that “nearly two in five online travel consumers say they believe that no one site has the lowest rates or fares.”

More about Qunar

Qunar.com was founded in early 2005 by three entrepreneurs with a number of years experience operating exclusively in the Asian region – Fritz Demopoulos, Douglas Khoo, and CC Zhuang.

With a technology and product development team based in Beijing and directly located next to Beijing University and Tsinghua University, Qunar.com has developed its own proprietary multi-language price comparison search engine in conjunction with these leading institutions.

Qunar.com represents a significant step in the development of the constantly changing, albeit rapidly growing online travel industry within the region. For the first time, through Qunar.com consumers can quickly, easily and in real-time compare virtually all available prices for air tickets, hotels, car rentals and tour packages. In other words, Qunar.com allows consumers to get the best choices and value.

Qunar.com is the market leader in Asia, and we look forward to meeting the needs of the fast growing travel industry.

Currently, Qunar.com searches almost 400 Chinese-language travel web sites. These search results provide our consumers with real-time pricing information and other descriptive details from more than 100 airlines and 10,000 hotels servicing mainland China.

As the recognized “new star” in the online travel industry, Qunar.com will continue to provide outstanding service and dramatically change the way consumers search and purchase travel services.

The Company’s founders

Frederick “Fritz” Demopoulos has been involved in the Chinese media, internet and wireless industries for over seven years. He is currently a co-founder of Qunar.com. In addition to these current entrepreneurial business activities, Fritz has been an advisor to an array of well-known Chinese and international media companies including Titan Sports, Hai Run Media Group and InterActive Corp. Previously, Fritz was also interim head of business development at Netease.com. He joined Netease in 2001, and was part of the management team that oversaw a period of significant growth for the company, which eventually became the NASDAQ’s best performing equity in 2002. In 1999 Fritz co-founded and became CEO of Shawei.com. Financially backed by Intel Capital, Softbank and IDG, Shawei grew to become China’s largest sports internet portal. Shawei was subsequently acquired by Hutchison Whampoa affiliate The TOM Group in 2000. Fritz began his career in China in 1997 as Business Development Manager for The News Corporation Limited. He was actively involved in a range of initiatives with various News Corp-affiliated companies including ChinaByte.com, STAR TV, NDS and Twentieth Century Fox. A native of Los Angeles, Fritz was educated at UCLA, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Karls-Ruprecht University and Cal State Fullerton. He is an avid golfer, tennis player and supporter of the Arsenal Gunners of the English Premier League.

Zhuang Chenchao “CC” is a recognized expert in internet technologies. He is currently a co-founder of Qunar.com and leads the company’s technology and product development. Prior to Qunar, CC was a member of the Systems Architecture team at the World Bank and was based in Washington DC. At the World Bank he was instrumental in developing a 130-country, 25-language intranet that was awarded “Best Intranet” by Nielsen Norman in 2003. Prior to relocating to Washington, CC was a founding employee and CTO of Shawei, China’s leading sports portal which was acquired by The Tom Group in 2000. In 1998 while still at university, he also co-founded Shanghai Wei Bo Technologies, a first generation text search engine. Shanghai Wei Bo secured early stage investment from IDG, and the company was eventually acquired by ChinaByte, an affiliate of The News Corporation. A native of Shanghai, CC was educated at Beijing University where he received a degree in Electrical Engineering. Among other pursuits, CC enjoys developing mathematical trading models and investing in the stock market.

Douglas Khoo has been involved in both the interactive and traditional advertising and marketing communications business for almost 20 years. He is currently a co-founder of Qunar.com and leads the company’s sales, marketing and business development activities. In addition to Qunar, Douglas is also a co-founder and investor in a range of online marketing service firms, including online advertising agency OneXeno and search engine optimization (SEO) firm Pixel Direct. Douglas is also Asia Director of Unicast, an internet advertising company specializing in rich media that was recently acquired by Viewpoint. Prior to these activities Douglas was a co-founder and Director of Shawei.com. Before pursuing these entrepreneurial opportunities, Douglas had a number of senior management positions during a 15-year career with the WPP group of companies, including Ogilvy & Mather, J. Walter Thompson, M-Digital and Mindshare. Notably he was responsible for Asia for building M-Digital, the online media buying and planning arm of WPP. Additionally, Douglas was GM of China for Mindshare. At WPP he was assigned to work in China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. A native of Malaysia, Douglas earned a diploma in architecture from Jaya Institute of Technology. In his spare time Douglas is an enthusiastic golfer and traveler, and an avid reader of Booker Prize winners.
More

http://www.qunar.com
http://venturebeat.com/2007/11/21/china-roundup-youku-facebook-and-qunar/
http://www.thealarmclock.com/mt/archives/2007/11/chinese_online.html
http://www.mobissimo.com/
http://www.kayak.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travel_search
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/10/yahoo-travel-chases-kayak-with-farechase/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/20/breaking-kayak-raises-196-million-buys-rival-sidestep/
http://www.tomgroup.com/eng/

 

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

Google’s Chief Legal Officer vs. Microsoft’s General Counsel

An interesting virtual war is taking place on Web right now caused by the Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo!. It appears Google cannot (or they don’t want to) enter the bidding war for Yahoo! due to many reasons; one of them seems to be the antitrust law complications that might arise from potential market dominance in the search market. Another reason could be that Google does not need Yahoo but does not want to let Microsoft own it. Yet it did not stop David Drummond, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer to attack Microsoft about openness and the competition on Internet. David pointed out that the combined entity is going to have a dominant role on the IM and the email markets in US. By contrast, Microsoft has replied that deal between Microsoft and Yahoo is going to create competition since Google is the dominant player on both the search and web advertising markets. From the two statements below it becomes clear enough that it is all about Microsoft vs. Google and Yahoo is just a company to be used by Microsoft in their on going battle with Google for the leading position on Internet. Both companies seem right and not really the same time. Google barking at Microsoft about openness and compositeness is quite strange taking into consideration their unprecedented dominancy on the search and advertising market online. The same time Microsoft talking about openness, innovation, and the protection of privacy on the Internet sounds quite the same to me – unserious. Read below and decide for yourself who is right and who is wrong. 

Below is what Google said on their official blog.

The openness of the Internet is what made Google — and Yahoo! — possible. A good idea that users find useful spreads quickly. Businesses can be created around the idea. Users benefit from constant innovation. It’s what makes the Internet such an exciting place.

So Microsoft’s hostile bid for Yahoo! raises troubling questions. 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.

Could Microsoft now attempt to exert the same sort of inappropriate and illegal influence over the Internet that it did with the PC? While the Internet rewards competitive innovation, Microsoft has frequently sought to establish proprietary monopolies — and then leverage its dominance into new, adjacent markets.

Could the acquisition of Yahoo! allow Microsoft — despite its legacy of serious legal and regulatory offenses — to extend unfair practices from browsers and operating systems to the Internet? In addition, Microsoft plus Yahoo! equals an overwhelming share of instant messaging and web email accounts. And between them, the two companies operate the two most heavily trafficked portals on the Internet. Could a combination of the two take advantage of a PC software monopoly to unfairly limit the ability of consumers to freely access competitors’ email, IM, and web-based services? Policymakers around the world need to ask these questions — and consumers deserve satisfying answers.

This hostile bid was announced on Friday, so there is plenty of time for these questions to be thoroughly addressed. We take Internet openness, choice and innovation seriously. They are the core of our culture. We believe that the interests of Internet users come first — and should come first — as the merits of this proposed acquisition are examined and alternatives explored.

Statement from Brad Smith, General Counsel, Microsoft

The combination of Microsoft and Yahoo! will create a more competitive marketplace by establishing a compelling number two competitor for Internet search and online advertising. The alternative scenarios only lead to less competition on the Internet.

Today, Google is the dominant search engine and advertising company on the Web. Google has amassed about 75 percent of paid search revenues worldwide and its share continues to grow. According to published reports, Google currently has more than 65 percent search query share in the U.S. and more than 85 percent in Europe. Microsoft and Yahoo! on the other hand have roughly 30 percent combined in the U.S. and approximately 10 percent combined in Europe.

Microsoft is committed to openness, innovation, and the protection of privacy on the Internet. We believe that the combination of Microsoft and Yahoo! will advance these goals.

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. In connection with the proposed transaction, Microsoft Corp. plans to file with the SEC a registration statement on Form S-4 containing a proxy statement/prospectus and other documents regarding the proposed transaction. The definitive proxy statement/prospectus will be mailed to shareholders of Yahoo! Inc. INVESTORS AND SECURITY HOLDERS OF YAHOO! INC. ARE URGED TO READ THE PROXY STATEMENT/PROSPECTUS AND OTHER 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 the registration statement and the proxy statement/prospectus (when available) and other documents filed with the SEC by Microsoft Corp. through the Web site maintained by the SEC at sec.gov. Free copies of the registration statement and the proxy statement/prospectus (when available) and other documents filed with the SEC can also be obtained by directing a request to Investor Relations Department, Microsoft Corp., One Microsoft Way, Redmond, Wash. 98052-6399.

Microsoft Corp. 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 Corp.’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 Aug. 8, 2007, and its proxy statement for its 2007 annual meeting of shareholders, which was filed with the SEC on Sept. 29, 2007. Other information regarding the participants in the proxy solicitation and a description of their direct and indirect interests, by security holdings or otherwise, will be contained in the proxy statement/prospectus and other relevant materials to be filed with the SEC when they become available.

Who is David C. Drummond?

David C. Drummond is Senior Vice President, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer

David Drummond joined Google in 2002, initially as vice president of corporate development. Today as senior vice president and chief legal officer, he leads Google’s global teams for legal, government relations, corporate development (M&A and investment projects) and new business development (strategic partnerships and licensing opportunities).

David was first introduced to Google in 1998 as a partner in the corporate transactions group at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati, one of the nation’s leading law firms representing technology businesses. He served as Google’s first outside counsel and worked with Larry Page and Sergey Brin to incorporate the company and secure its initial rounds of financing. During his tenure at Wilson Sonsini, David worked with a wide variety of technology companies to help them manage complex transactions such as mergers, acquisitions and initial public offerings.

David earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Santa Clara University and his JD from Stanford Law School.

Who is Brad Smith?

Brad Smith is Microsoft’s Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary. He leads the company’s Department of Legal and Corporate Affairs, which is responsible for all legal work and for government, industry and community affairs activities.

Smith has played a leading role at Microsoft on intellectual property, competition law, and other Internet legal and public policy issues. He is also the company’s chief compliance officer. Since becoming general counsel in 2002, he has overseen numerous negotiations with governments and other companies, including Microsoft’s 2002 antitrust settlement with state attorneys general, its 2002 data privacy negotiations with the Federal Trade Commission and European Commission, and agreements to address antitrust or IP issues with Time Warner, Sun Microsystems, RealNetworks, IBM and Novell.

Smith is responsible for Microsoft’s intellectual property work, including all of its IP portfolio, licensing and public policy activities. He has helped spearhead the growth in the company’s patent portfolio and the launch of global campaigns to bring enforcement actions against those engaged in software piracy and counterfeiting and against viruses, spyware and other threats to Internet safety. He is also responsible for the expansion of Microsoft’s citizenship and philanthropic activities, work to revise its contracts to make them more customer-friendly, and the strengthening of legal compliance programs, issuing Standards of Business Conduct for all Microsoft employees and creating an Office of Legal Compliance.

Smith previously worked for five years as Deputy General Counsel for Worldwide Sales, and before that, he spent three years managing the company’s European Law and Corporate Affairs group, based in Paris. Before joining Microsoft, he was a partner at Covington & Burling, having worked in the firm’s Washington, D.C. and London offices and represented a number of companies in the computing industry.

Smith graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University, where he received the Class of 1901 Medal, the Dewitt Clinton Poole Memorial Prize, and the Harold Willis Dodds Achievement Award, the highest award given to a graduating senior at commencement. He was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar at the Columbia University School of Law, where he received the David M. Berger Memorial Award. He also studied international law and economics at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, Switzerland.

He has written numerous articles regarding international intellectual property and electronic commerce issues, and has served as a lecturer at the Hague Academy of International Law.

More

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/02/yahoo-and-future-of-internet.html
http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2008/feb08/02-03Statement.mspx?rss_fdn=Press%20Releases
http://www.google.com/corporate/execs.html
http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/exec/bradsmith/default.mspx
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/03/google-cries-wolf-on-microsoft-yahoo-deal-irony-comes-up-blank-in-google-search/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/03/can-google-still-claim-to-be-david-to-microsofts-goliath-no/
 

Is Google going to be the winner from the Microsoft-Yahoo deal?

Over the past a couple of days all the major media outlets are full with news, analyses, reports, commentaries and researches on the potential deal between Microsoft and Yahoo! trying to figure out the benefits or the potential pitfalls the deal would eventually face.

We’ve read a lot and we’d like here to summarize the pluses and minuses of this potential deal.

Potential pitfalls, disadvantages and overall minuses

Different cultures of the two companies – there will be the challenge of integrating two very different companies, with clashing cultures and business philosophies. At Microsoft, the operating system has always been priority number one, while Yahoo’s vision is all things Internet.

Even combined the new entity is going to have less than the half of the searches Google enjoys.

  • Google Sites: 37.1 billion (5 billion at YouTube)
  • Yahoo Sites: 8.5 billion
  • Baidu.com: 3.3 billion
  • Microsoft Sites: 2.2 billion

So the deal would do little to nothing to address the fundamental problem faced by both companies: finding a way to effectively compete with Google and its growing dominance of the Web.

The combined number of employees would be in the 90,000 range and potential layoffs can be overseen.

The reach of Microsoft and Yahoo! combined is going to be bigger than Google’s but unless the new entity figures out how to more effectively monetize its traffic they are not going to make any impact on Google’s advertising business. Google’s AdSense is still paying most to web publishers compared to other advertising networks, which tells us that Google earns more off its traffic and reach than any other ad network out there.  

Despite Microsoft’s intention to offer significant retention packages to Yahoo’s engineers, key leaders and employees across all disciplines we think Yahoo’s most talented employees will take the money from their suddenly valuable stock options and run. It is clear they aren’t going to get rich working for Microsoft, whose stock has gone up an average of 6.6 percent a year over the last five years.

If this deal happen Yahoo’s shareholders can been seen in a better position compared to Microsoft’s. They would finally get a reasonably happy ending to their long nightmare of waiting for Yahoo management to come up with a viable strategy to repel the Google assault. Other than announcing a thousand job cuts this week, Yahoo co-founder and Chief Executive Jerry Yang has given no sign that he has any better ideas for turning around the struggling company than Terry Semel, who resigned in disgrace in June 2007.

There are many questions to be addressed; some of them are included below.

  • Live search or Yahoo search?
  • Live mail or Yahoo mail?
  • Live messenger or Yahoo messenger?
  • Live spaces, Yahoo 360 or Facebook (Microsoft owns less than 2% in Facebook)?
  • MSN Dating (Match) or Yahoo personal?
  • Microsoft’s AdCenter or Yahoo’s Panama advertising platform?
  • .Net or java?
  • Live ID or Open ID?

None of the above seems to be having any synergies. Most of them are already well established brands while others are taking quite different approaches by using and relying on different technological standards. There is clearly huge dilemma if Microsoft keeps the different brands alive, it will surely confuse customers and reduce synergies. If it kills one or another, it will throw away a lot of expensively built real Web properties.

Microsoft and Yahoo would eventually waste a couple of years jumping through antitrust hoops and figuring out how to integrate their companies. During all that time Google will continue to adding more business and consumer Web services and leverage its dominance of search advertising into yet more advertising niches.

Google is already aggressively entering into the mobile space, striking deals around the globe to get prominent positioning with certain carriers and promoting an open handset design. The company is even bidding billions of dollars to buy a chunk of U.S. wireless spectrum that it could use to launch its own mobile voice and data service.

Potential synergies, advantages and overall pluses

Under no doubt the biggest advantage oversee by the Microsoft’s people is the Internet traffic/reach the combined entity is going to have – it is clearly going to be much larger than Google’s. This is what Steve Ballmer called the eyeballs and is going to be used to strengthen their advertising strategy. According to HitWise the combined traffic reach of Yahoo! and MSN web properties is going to be 15.6% of the entire Internet traffic in the U.S., compared to only 7.7% for Google’s web properties yet Google still has double the market share in search of both Yahoo and Microsoft combined.

Microsoft says it can shave at least $1 billion from operating expenses in a merged company.

The combined revenues of the two companies would be about $65B while the net profit is expected to be in the $17.5B range compared to only $4.2B for Google.

The companied company would achieve around 32% market share from the US search market.

Another advantage is that Yahoo still sports the best consumer Web portal, My Yahoo, with tens of millions of loyal users while Microsoft’s Windows operating system runs nine out of 10 desktop computers on the planet and a considerable portion of the Internet is powered by servers of the company.

In theory, Microsoft might integrate the best services from each company, from Yahoo’s Flickr photo sharing to Microsoft’s Office applications, to provide an appealing PC-and-Internet platform for customers. The technical challenges would be enormous, but the payoff could be huge.

Today Microsoft has over $300B market capitalization while Yahoo!’s has climbed close to $30B so the combined entity would potentially have a market capitalization twice bigger than Google’s, which is a little more than $175B today.

Potential competitive bidders showing up on the horizon

Aside everything else being mentioned above the acquisition deal is not for sure yet. Multiple sources are reporting counter offers are in preparation by competitive bidders trying to snatch Yahoo! before Microsoft does it. One thing is for sure we can easily exclude Google from the list of potential bidders for Yahoo!. On the conference call explaining the deal, Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith pointed out that, while other companies may make competing bids for Yahoo, one company that clearly can’t is Google. Citing a 75 percent market share in the paid-search advertising market worldwide, Ballmer asserts, “Google is prevented by antitrust laws from buying Yahoo.”

One of the rumor is that a big private equity firm from New York is going to enter the bidding war for Yahoo!.

Another potential bidder being rumored on a few blogs is 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.

Other sources are 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.

So to conclude, the minuses, obstacles and the disadvantages seem to be more than what the pluses are expected to be. So if ever a deal goes through it is not very clear what the benefits for both Microsoft and Yahoo! would be and if ever there is going to be a winner from this deal Google, ironically, might be the one at the end of the day.

You can read more over here…

More

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

Yes, we were right Yahoo was seriously undervalued; Microsoft offers $44.6B for the company, a 62% premium over their value from yesterday

When a few days ago we conducted an in-depth research on Web and ran an analysis based on the information collected we came up to the logical conclusion that Yahoo! was seriously undervalued company. Today Microsoft proved us right by offering $44.6B for Yahoo!, which represents a 62% premium on Thursday’s closing price. All major media are reporting on the deal.

In our post a few days ago we were speculating that Alibaba lost $13B from its market cap in just one month, yet the company’s market value was close to 50% from what Yahoo!’s value then was (~$26B).

Yahoo! is known to own 39% in Alibaba Group. Alibaba Group holds a 75% stake in Alibaba.com, which was worth $17.4 billion. Yahoo owns 39% of Alibaba Group, which puts the value of their share at $6.8 billion. Yahoo! has also bought around 1.2% stake in Alibaba.com by paying $100M so the direct-owned 1.2% stake was worth about $278 million. That puts the total value of Yahoo’s interest in Alibaba.com at north of $7 billion. That was then about 16.7% of Yahoo’s then $42 billion valuation.

The big question then was whether Alibaba.com is overvalued or Yahoo! is undervalued? One should take into serious consideration the fact that Yahoo! is making more than $6B in revenues per year while Alibaba.com is having, as far as we know, no more than $150M in annual revenues. A quick online research revelead that Alibaba had GAAP Revenue of around $46.3M for 2004 while the company’s revenue in the first half of 2006 was about $100 million (presumingly $200M for the entire 2006). For the first 6 months of 2007 Alibaba had revenue of RMB957.7M (~$132MM) (presuming $260M for the entire 2007). The numbers showed big difference, no? Anyway, today we are already pretty sure we were right the other day and it is obvious today that Yahoo! was seriously undervalued and was a good buy.

Microsoft Corp. made an unsolicited $44.6 billion cash and stock bid for Yahoo on Friday, a deal which could shake up the competitive and lucrative market for Internet search. The deal would pay Yahoo shareholders $31 a share, which represents a 62% premium from where Yahoo stock closed on Thursday.  Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive, called the move the “next major milestone” for the software giant. “We are very, very confident this is the right path for Microsoft and for Yahoo,” he said. Ballmer, saying that Microsoft has been in “off and on” talks with Yahoo for 18 months, said he called Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang Thursday night to tell him about the bid.

Microsoft made the bid early Friday. In a statement, the company said the offer allows Yahoo shareholders to elect to receive cash or a fixed number of shares of Microsoft common stock, with the software giant’s offer consisting of one-half cash and one-half Microsoft common stock.

Shares of Yahoo (YHOO, Fortune 500) shot up nearly 60% in pre-market trading on the news, while shares of Dow component Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) went down 5%. In a statement, Yahoo acknowledged receipt of the offer and said its board would evaluate the proposal “carefully and promptly.”

Michael Arrington from Techcrunch has also predicted a couple of days ago in his appearance on Fox Business that Yahoo could face a takeover by Microsoft as part of an ad play, and he was right too.

Two other events hit Yahoo over the past week on Thursday, former Yahoo Chief Terry Semel, who opposed an earlier approach made by Microsoft last year, resigned from the Yahoo’s board. In another announcement Yahoo said it would lay off 1,000 employees by mid-February. Yahoo also reported lower fourth-quarter earnings that still beat Wall Street’s now modest expectations for the firm, but it gave a 2008 revenue forecast that disappointed analysts.

Microsoft also said it projects the online advertising market to grow from over $40 billion in 2007 to nearly $80 billion by 2010 and in other news we have read advertising is the key element from the deal as proposed. Regardless Google’s recent problems and the fact they have lost 24% of its market capitalization since November 2007, the company is still leader on the online advertising market and a potential deal between Microsoft and Yahoo! would for sure strengthen their position in the battle for the online leadership with Google. The investors will no doubt be pressing the line that the combined bulk of the Yahoo! flagship website and MSN, Microsoft’s web division, will create – in terms of advertising inventory at least – a counter to Google’s dominance.  Google already controls nearly 60 percent of the U.S. search market, and has been widening its lead, despite concerted efforts by both second-place Yahoo and third-place Microsoft. By combining, Microsoft and Yahoo would have a 33 percent share of the U.S. search market, according to the latest data from comScore Media Metrix. But the idea is it eventually surge ahead of Google in terms of the eyeballs attracted to the combined web sites. The combined internet properties will have reach of at least 700M/800M people online per month but possible overlap of the real uniques can be expected.

According to comScore the current search numbers are as follows:

  • Google Sites: 37.1 billion (5 billion at YouTube)
  • Yahoo Sites: 8.5 billion
  • Baidu.com: 3.3 billion
  • Microsoft Sites: 2.2 billion

The thing is, Microsoft and Yahoo! have both known this for years and have been falling over themselves to create – or buy – their own advertising technologies that can compete with Google’s. That’s why Microsoft bought aQuantive and Yahoo! has spent furiously on the development of Panama, a rival new advertising platform aside buying a number of other advertising companies like RightMedia and BlueLithium. It’s also part of the reason it’s hard to see any synergies between Microsoft and Yahoo! with their rival proprietary technologies and bolt-on acquisitions. Doubts also abound on whether the two companies would do well together in terms of culture.

Other experts have expressed concerns that Microsoft’s audacious bid for Yahoo reveals the extent to which the Seattle giant has failed to adapt to the Internet age.

On the other side when Yahoo! was created by Jerry Yang and David Filo in 1994, Microsoft was already 21 years old and the largest software developer in the world and indeed Yang by that time was known to go against Microsoft’s technologies and clearly disliking them.

Other questions that have popped up publicly are as follows, including but not limited to.

  • Live search or Yahoo search?
  • Live mail or Yahoo mail?
  • Live messenger or Yahoo messenger?
  • Live spaces, Yahoo 360 or Facebook?
  • MSN Dating (Match) or Yahoo personal?
  • Microsoft’s AdCenter or Yahoo’s Panama advertising platform?
  • .Net or java?
  • Live ID or Open ID?
  • Anyone else?

Microsoft publicly disclosed its cash-and-stock offer in hopes of rallying support from Yahoo’s shareholders, making it more difficult for Yahoo’s board to turn down the bid.

Below is enclosed the entire email as it was sent from Microsoft’s Steven Ballmer to Yahoo’s board of directors and to Jerry Yang. It somehow made the public and appeared on multiple news sources and blogs.  

January 31, 2008

Board of Directors
Yahoo! Inc.
701 First Avenue
Sunnyvale, CA 94089
Attention: Roy Bostock, Chairman
Attention: Jerry Yang, Chief Executive Officer

Dear Members of the Board:

I am writing on behalf of the Board of Directors of Microsoft to make a proposal for a business combination of Microsoft and Yahoo!. Under our proposal, Microsoft would acquire all of the outstanding shares of Yahoo! common stock for per share consideration of $31 based on Microsoft’s closing share price on January 31, 2008, payable in the form of $31 in cash or 0.9509 of a share of Microsoft common stock. Microsoft would provide each Yahoo! shareholder with the ability to choose whether to receive the consideration in cash or Microsoft common stock, subject to pro-ration so that in the aggregate one-half of the Yahoo! common shares will be exchanged for shares of Microsoft common stock and one-half of the Yahoo! common shares will be converted into the right to receive cash. Our proposal is not subject to any financing condition.

Our proposal represents a 62% premium above the closing price of Yahoo! common stock of $19.18 on January 31, 2008. The implied premium for the operating assets of the company clearly is considerably greater when adjusted for the minority, non-controlled assets and cash. By whatever financial measure you use – EBITDA, free cash flow, operating cash flow, net income, or analyst target prices – this proposal represents a compelling value realization event for your shareholders.

We believe that Microsoft common stock represents a very attractive investment opportunity for Yahoo!’s shareholders. Microsoft has generated revenue growth of 15%, earnings growth of 26%, and a return on equity of 35% on average for the last three years. Microsoft’s share price has generated shareholder returns of 8% during the last one year period and 28% during the last three year period, significantly outperforming the S&P 500. It is our view that Microsoft has significant potential upside given the continued solid growth in our core businesses, the recent launch of Windows Vista, and other strategic initiatives.

Microsoft’s consistent belief has been that the combination of Microsoft and Yahoo! clearly represents the best way to deliver maximum value to our respective shareholders, as well as create a more efficient and competitive company that would provide greater value and service to our customers. In late 2006 and early 2007, we jointly explored a broad range of ways in which our two companies might work together. These discussions were based on a vision that the online businesses of Microsoft and Yahoo! should be aligned in some way to create a more effective competitor in the online marketplace. We discussed a number of alternatives ranging from commercial partnerships to a merger proposal, which you rejected. While a commercial partnership may have made sense at one time, Microsoft believes that the only alternative now is the combination of Microsoft and Yahoo! that we are proposing.

In February 2007, I received a letter from your Chairman indicating the view of the Yahoo! Board that “now is not the right time from the perspective of our shareholders to enter into discussions regarding an acquisition transaction.” According to that letter, the principal reason for this view was the Yahoo! Board’s confidence in the “potential upside” if management successfully executed on a reformulated strategy based on certain operational initiatives, such as Project Panama, and a significant organizational realignment. A year has gone by, and the competitive situation has not improved.

While online advertising growth continues, there are significant benefits of scale in advertising platform economics, in capital costs for search index build-out, and in research and development, making this a time of industry consolidation and convergence. Today, the market is increasingly dominated by one player who is consolidating its dominance through acquisition. Together, Microsoft and Yahoo! can offer a credible alternative for consumers, advertisers, and publishers. Synergies of this combination fall into four areas:

Scale economics: This combination enables synergies related to scale economics of the advertising platform where today there is only one competitor at scale. This includes synergies across both search and non-search related advertising that will strengthen the value proposition to both advertisers and publishers. Additionally, the combination allows us to consolidate capital spending.

Expanded R&D capacity: The combined talent of our engineering resources can be focused on R&D priorities such as a single search index and single advertising platform. Together we can unleash new levels of innovation, delivering enhanced user experiences, breakthroughs in search, and new advertising platform capabilities. Many of these breakthroughs are a function of an engineering scale that today neither of our companies has on its own.

Operational efficiencies: Eliminating redundant infrastructure and duplicative operating costs will improve the financial performance of the combined entity.

Emerging user experiences: Our combined ability to focus engineering resources that drive innovation in emerging scenarios such as video, mobile services, online commerce, social media, and social platforms is greatly enhanced.

We would value the opportunity to further discuss with you how to optimize the integration of our respective businesses to create a leading global technology company with exceptional display and search advertising capabilities. You should also be aware that we intend to offer significant retention packages to your engineers, key leaders and employees across all disciplines.

We have dedicated considerable time and resources to an analysis of a potential transaction and are confident that the combination will receive all necessary regulatory approvals. We look forward to discussing this with you, and both our internal legal team and outside counsel are available to meet with your counsel at their earliest convenience.

Our proposal is subject to the negotiation of a definitive merger agreement and our having the opportunity to conduct certain limited and confirmatory due diligence. In addition, because a portion of the aggregate merger consideration would consist of Microsoft common stock, we would provide Yahoo! the opportunity to conduct appropriate limited due diligence with respect to Microsoft. We are prepared to deliver a draft merger agreement to you and begin discussions immediately.

In light of the significance of this proposal to your shareholders and ours, as well as the potential for selective disclosures, our intention is to publicly release the text of this letter tomorrow morning.

Due to the importance of these discussions and the value represented by our proposal, we expect the Yahoo! Board to engage in a full review of our proposal. My leadership team and I would be happy to make ourselves available to meet with you and your Board at your earliest convenience. Depending on the nature of your response, 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.

We believe this proposal represents a unique opportunity to create significant value for Yahoo!’s shareholders and employees, and the combined company will be better positioned to provide an enhanced value proposition to users and advertisers. We hope that you and your Board share our enthusiasm, and we look forward to a prompt and favorable reply.

Sincerely yours,

/s/ Steven A. Ballmer

Steven A. Ballmer

Chief Executive Officer

Microsoft Corporation

Big question here is will the anti trust authorities in US and the EU’s ones allow this to happen. Microsoft has previously shown, not only once, an interest in Yahoo, with reports in May 2007 saying that Microsoft had approached Yahoo about a friendly takeover, rumored to have offered $50B by that time. Some other sources go even further down to offers dated from 2006, according to the CNet article. Mediapost.com has some perspective on the deal from the point of view of ads and eyeballs. Such an acquisition, which would be Microsoft’s largest by far — it bought aQuantive last year for $6 billion — would, as we mention above, need approval by US and EU authorities. A European Commission spokesman declined to comment to Reuters. There’s also a conference call at 8:30am EST where more details will be publicly reveled.
Really more

http://www.yahoo.com/
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=YHOO
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=msft
http://www.microsoft.com/en/us/default.aspx
http://money.cnn.com/2008/02/01/technology/microsoft_yahoo/?postversion=2008020108
http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/080201/microsoft_yahoo.html?.v=22
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=asbqLJQTL8eI&refer=us
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/technology/2008/02/microsoft_and_yahoo_perfect_pa.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/wow-microsoft-offers-446-billion-to-acquire-yahoo/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/30/lets-trash-yahoo-during-happy-hour/
http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5htQYlMQMYqZmuCMJwt514rqKceVw
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/05/04/microsoft-pursues-yahoo-takeover/
http://uk.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/if-microsoft-buys-yahoo-what-does-it-mean-for-europe/
http://www.mercurynews.com/localnewsheadlines/ci_8137285
http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/article/futures-jump-microsoft2fyahoo-bid_461090_2.html
http://in.reuters.com/article/businessNews/idINIndia-31718720080201
http://www.forbes.com/markets/feeds/afx/2008/02/01/afx4602885.html
http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/microsoft-offers-446-bln-yahoo/story.aspx?guid=035B5DA4-6DDD-44A9-95D6-2EFF58F6EB04&dist=SecMostRead
http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/technology/article3289188.ece
http://slashdot.org/article.pl?no_d2=1&sid=08/02/01/1353211
http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.showArticleHomePage&art_aid=75612
http://www.reuters.com/article/rbssTechMediaTelecomNews/idUSBRU00628720080201
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120186587368234937.html?mod=yahoo_hs&ru=yahoo
http://www.bigmouthmedia.com/live/articles/semel-steps-down-from-yahoo-board-of-directors.asp/4401/
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/01/technology/01cnd-subyahoo.html?em&ex=1202014800&en=ce4ce395e1c80eb4&ei=5087%0A
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/jan/31/yahoo.digitalmedia
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/7b2043ba-cf68-11dc-854a-0000779fd2ac.html
http://news.zdnet.co.uk/internet/0,1000000097,39292572,00.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Ballmer
http://news.tigerdirect.com/2008/02/01/microsoft-proposes-acquisition-of-yahoo-for-31-per-share/
http://www.fierceiptv.com/story/microsoft-bids-45-billion-yahoo/2008-02-01?utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss
http://blog.edge.be/uncategorized/microsoft-koopt-yahoo
http://jimstroud.com/2008/02/01/microsoft-bids-4500000000000-for-yahoo/
http://www.pixelapes.com/2008/02/01/breaking-news-microsoft-offer-to-buy-yahoo/
http://gigaom.com/2008/02/01/dear-yahoo-i-pwn-you-xo-microsoft/
http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080201/NEWS/80201015/-1/rss
http://dondodge.typepad.com/the_next_big_thing/2008/02/microsoft-propo.html
http://blogs.reuters.com/mediafile/2008/02/01/microsoft-hands-off-my-yahoo/
http://thenextweb.org/2008/02/01/microsoft-offers-446-billion-for-yahoo-why-yahoo-will-accept/
http://sandeepvenu.wordpress.com/2008/02/01/microsoft-offers-to-buy-yahoo-for-446-bln/
http://www.buzzmachine.com/2008/02/01/microsoft-yahoo-the-deal-of-the-dinos/
http://domainnamewire.com/2008/02/01/what-would-microsoft-yahoo-mean-for-domainers/
http://www.istartedsomething.com/20080202/microsoft-yahoo-big-mess-comparison/
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/080201-100256
http://www.gadgetell.com/tech/comment/microsoft-offers-to-acquire-yahoo-for-446-billion-dollars/
http://www.seobook.com/what-microsoft-acquisition-yahoo-means-webmasters-web-publishers
http://www.paidcontent.co.uk/entry/419-microsoft-makes-446-billion-cash-and-stock-bid-for-yahoo-62-percent-pre/
http://webworkerdaily.com/2008/02/01/microsoft-offers-to-buy-ailing-yahoo-for-446-billion/

The Washington Post Company acquired CourseAdvisor.com

The Washington Post Company (NYSE: WPO) has acquired the education site CourseAdvisor.com, which is an online lead generator serving the education industry. However, the financial details and terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

The Wakefield, MA.-based company matches up students with suitable degree or certificate-granting programs across 800 institutions. CourseAdvisor founder and CEO Greg Titus was formerly the head of online education firm Acadient. The Washington Post Company is also the owner of education services firm Kaplan, which is an educational prep service and hence the synergy to justify the acquisition. Kaplan is already among those institutions listed as a potential for match using CourseAdvisor’s search wizard.

The company is known to have raised $12 million investment, which was the company’s first institutional round of financing. The investment was led by ABS Capital Partners, a leading private equity firm focused on investing in established and profitable growth companies, and The Washington Post Company. The money was then said to be used to fund the Company’s continued rapid growth by increasing investment in its sales force and strengthening its balance sheet. As a result of the financing, Deric Emry, a General Partner at ABS Capital, joined CourseAdvisor’s Board of Directors. Ralph Terkowitz, also a General Partner at ABS Capital and Caroline Little, chief executive officer and publisher of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive (WPNI), will serve as observers on the Company’s Board of Directors.

The company was founded in 2004 and is basically an online research directory for postsecondary education, career training, and professional development. We offer more than 7,000 programs through nearly 500 accredited colleges, career schools, training centers, and universities.

With over 1.5 million unique visitors per month, CourseAdvisor has become a leading online education directory (OED). The Company has significant technological advantages which enable it to manage complex search campaigns to source high quality leads. Since all site visits are generated from paid and organic search, each visitor is actively seeking information about colleges, universities and career and professional training. In addition, the Company’s advanced technology platform with superior filtering capabilities offers student profiling, geo-targeting and multi-stage data verification to maximize lead quality for CourseAdvisor’s customers.

Search CourseAdvisor for:

  • Online and Campus Degrees
  • Professional Diploma and Certificate Programs
  • Nursing and Allied Health Schools
  • IT Training
  • Business Degrees
  • Online Master’s in Education
  • Criminal Justice and Homeland Security

The CourseAdvisor Approach
CourseAdvisor’s objective is to be a useful, effective resource for furthering your education and enriching your life. We work hard to make researching higher education easy. Our guided search Wizard finds only those programs that meet your interests, requirements, and qualifications. The basic information you provide helps us connect you with the schools that can best serve you.

Our unique advantage is our team of education, technology, social sciences, and Internet experts. We continually research career fields and employment trends and actively seek out schools that offer exciting new programs in the fastest-growing fields.

We also develop our own custom search technologies to help you find the best opportunities in your chosen career. More than 2 million students visit CourseAdvisor every month! Think of CourseAdvisor as a search engine that runs in both directions… we make it easier for students and schools to find each other.

CourseAdvisor is located in Wakefield, Massachusetts and is now an independent subsidiary of The Washington Post Company since October 11, 2007.

CourseAdvisor.com claims it attracts over 1.5 million unique visitors per month, but a quick look into Quantcast reveals much better numbers – Courseadvisor.com is a top 1,000 site that reaches over 2.8 million U.S. monthly uniques.

The market

Competitors include GlobalScholar, SmartThinking, Tutor.com, and TutorVista.

GlobalScholar, by the way, has today announced a $27 million B Round from existing investors Ignition Partners and Knowledge Universe Education. This is on top of a previously undisclosed $15.5 million A Round the company raised early last year. Board members include Ignition’s Brad Silverberg and former Drugstore.com CEO Peter Neupert.

In conjunction with the investment round, GlobalScholar is also announcing that it has acquired Excelsior Software for an undisclosed amount (although it was less than half the total money raised). Excelsior makes student assessment software used by teachers in 1,000 school districts nationwide. GlobalScholar said it will be adding the Excelsior’s business to its existing Web-based tutoring platform, which it launched quietly last fall.

About ABS Capital Partners

ABS Capital Partners is a private equity firm that was founded in 1990 to invest in mid- to later-stage growth companies in order to create significant, market-leading companies. The firm’s investment strategy focuses on companies in the business services, health care, technology and media & communications sectors. ABS partners with strong management teams to help build businesses with substantial revenues, near-term profitability and solid customer bases. The firm has created long-term value for management and investors. ABS leverages over 100 years of combined investing and operating experience among its partners and provides a range of investment structures, including expansion financing, management buyouts and recapitalizations. With an extensive history and knowledge of equity and mergers & acquisitions markets, ABS Capital provides strategic guidance and helps companies to capitalize on their business opportunities. ABS has $1.5 billion under management and nine investing partners within offices in Baltimore, San Francisco and Boston. Over the past fifteen years, ABS has invested in over 70 portfolio companies, including American Public Education, Inc., DoubleClick, Inc., NeuStar, Inc., Rosetta Stone, Inc. and Vibrant Media, Inc..

About the Washington Post Company

The Washington Post Company (NYSE:WPO) is a diversified education and media company whose principal operations include educational and career services, newspaper and magazine publishing, television broadcasting, cable television systems and electronic information services. The Company owns The Washington Post; Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive (WPNI), the online publishing subsidiary whose flagship products include washingtonpost.com, Newsweek.com, Slate, BudgetTravel.com and Sprig.com; Express; El Tiempo Latino; The Gazette and Southern Maryland newspapers; The Herald (Everett, WA); Newsweek magazine; Post-Newsweek Stations (Detroit, Houston, Miami, Orlando, San Antonio and Jacksonville); Cable ONE, serving subscribers in midwestern, western and southern states; and CourseAdvisor, an online lead generation provider. The Company also owns Kaplan, Inc., a leading international provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. The Company has an ownership interests in the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service and Bowater Mersey Paper Company.

More

http://courseadvisor.com/
http://www.washingtonpost.com/
http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-washington-post-acquires-lead-generator-courseadvisorcom/
http://corporate.courseadvisor.com/archive/press_11_06.php
http://mashable.com/2007/10/11/washington-post-courseadvisor/
http://www.abscapital.com
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/30/globalscholar-raises-27-million-b-round-to-tackle-online-education/
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/31/fashion/31CYBER.html?ex=1359522000&en=7e55fe77d4377379&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink
http://www.washpostco.com/company-profile.htm
http://finance.google.com/finance?q=NYSE:WPO

More deals in the enterprise search sector

A couple of weeks after Microsoft announced its $1.2 billion acquisition of FAST Search & Transfer, enterprise search competitor Endeca is getting a $15 million cash infusion from both Intel Capital and SAP Ventures. This is on top of the $50 million Endeca has already raised in the past few years from Lehman Brothers, Granite Global Ventures, Ampersand Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Venrock Associates and DN Capital.

“In just more than seven years, Endeca went from one customer and modest revenue to 500 customers and $100M-plus in sales. The next target is the elusive $500M milestone,” said Bruce Richardson, chief research officer at AMR Research, in his January 11, 2008 report entitled Endeca Set to Lead the Information Visibility Revolution. “What makes Endeca unique is its ability to provide visibility for everyone that needs it, whether for finding a part or selling to a customer or prospect… It could be years before Endeca faces products comparable to its own.”

“Visibility into enterprise-wide information assets is a key area of interest for customers,” said Jennifer Scholze, Investment Partner at SAP Ventures. “By taking a fundamentally new approach to accessing and analyzing enterprise-wide data, Endeca is poised to disrupt multi-billion dollar markets and is uniquely suited to address the core opportunity of the information economy.”

“No company better understands the importance of enterprise data to today’s information-centric businesses than SAP. Our collaboration will open new doors and accelerate the realization of our vision to arm all knowledge workers with the critical enterprise data they need to inform daily decision making, regardless of source or format,” said Steve Papa, chief executive officer of Endeca. “As an SAP customer and now a key part of their investment portfolio, Endeca is on a favorable path to learn from — and work closely with — the most influential information applications company of our time.”

“Information access platforms play a crucial role in linking vast collections of data,” said Arvind Sodhani, president of Intel Capital. “Our investment in Endeca will further their capabilities by capitalizing on Intel’s next generation multi-core platforms in this market segment.”

“Endeca’s success to date would not have been possible without the innovations Intel has brought to market. Multi-core computing will play one of the greatest enabling roles for adoption of next generation information access technology,” said Steve Papa, CEO of Endeca. “This investment from Intel Capital has the potential to accelerate Endeca’s success in gaining adoption for information access.”

More about Endeca

The Endeca Information Access Platform is a new platform built specifically to address an emerging market that is poised to fundamentally change the way people access and interact with information. The platform is designed to help people explore, analyze, and understand information in ways not possible with search engine, database, and business intelligence solutions. Powered by Endeca’s MDEX Engine™ technology, it unites the ease of search with the analytical power of business intelligence, bringing Endeca’s trademark Guided Navigation® user experience to new classes of applications. As a result, organizations can increase revenue, decrease costs, and streamline operations by helping their customers, employees, and partners answer high-value questions with unprecedented ease and confidence.

The Endeca Information Access Platform aids information-based problem solving across a wide variety of business processes, including eCommerce, marketing-campaign analysis, product design and parts reuse, knowledge management, customer service, and more. To meet highly specific industry and application requirements, Endeca offers a range of market solutions, each designed to accelerate time-to-market and maximize return.

Discovering our name

The company name “Endeca” is derived from the German word “entdecken” meaning “to discover.” Viewed in the context of information integration and navigation, Endeca technology not only allows users to find what they are looking for, but also to discover the possibilities they never knew existed along the way.

Over 500 leading global organizations including ABN AMRO, Boeing, Cox Newspapers, The (US) Defense Intelligence Agency, Dell, Ford Motor Company, Hyatt, IBM, John Deere, The Library of Congress, Texas Instruments, and Walmart.com rely on Endeca to power business-critical applications that increase revenue, reduce costs and streamline operations.

Headquartered in Cambridge, MA, Endeca has operations in North America, Europe and Asia. It has 500 employees and over $100 in sales for the last year. The company was founded in 1999.

About SAP Ventures

Since 1996, SAP Ventures has been investing in companies that offer exciting new technologies and applications. Leveraging years of experience and drawing on a network of powerful business relationships, SAP Ventures helps entrepreneurs and management teams recruit the best people, make the right technology decisions, win new business, and build their own partner networks. The goal of SAP Ventures is to grow businesses that create shareholder value for everyone involved.

About Intel Capital

Intel Capital, Intel’s global investment organization, makes equity investments in innovative technology start-ups and companies worldwide. Intel Capital invests in a broad range of companies offering hardware, software and services targeting enterprise, home, mobility, health, consumer Internet, semiconductor manufacturing, and cleantech. Since 1991, Intel Capital has invested more than US$6 billion in approximately 1,000 companies in more than 40 countries. In that timeframe, about 157 portfolio companies have gone public on various exchanges around the world and another 187 have been acquired by other companies. In 2007, Intel Capital invested about US$639 million in 166 deals with approximately 37 percent of funds invested outside the United States.

Interesting information has popped up online while we were researching on the deal for more details. It seems that their product empowers IBM while IBM appears to be developing their own in joined forces with Yahoo!: http://omnifind.ibm.yahoo.net/  & http://omnifind.ibm.yahoo.net/productinfo.php

Other commentaries we have dug up from Web reveal some rumors that Endeca was pretty close to do an IPO last year. The same sources claimed something must be going not very well with the company since they have chosen to go in bed with bigger names in the business and raise VC money rather than going the IPO road. 

More

http://endeca.com/
http://endeca.com/corporate-info/press-room/pr/pr_2008-1-23.html
http://endeca.com/corporate-info/press-room/pr/pr_2008-1-23-SAP.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/23/intel-and-sap-put-15-million-into-enterprise-search-company-endeca/
http://endeca.com/_assets/pdf/AMR_Endeca_Revolution.pdf
http://www.sapventures.com
http://www.intelcapital.com
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/01/08/microsoft-bets-on-enterprise-search-offers-to-buy-fastno-for-12b/

WidgetBucks claims it served over 1B ads in just 3 months, enters behavioral targeting

A tiny start up called WidgetBucks is claiming they have served over 1 billion ads in the past three months. It is a serious claim, aside the fact they also claim to be the fastest growing ad network on web today.

WidgetBucks features pay-per-click shopping widgets that help their customers make money fast. They instantly display the most popular products based on buying trends of 100 million shoppers. Thus they are highly engaging, which means instant dollars for our customers. The company is also claiming their widgets see $3-$6 CPM – pretty good compared to traditional ad networks that deliver less than $2 CPM.

If that’s true and the company had over 1B ads served over the past 3 months and they claim they are seeing $3-$6 CPM (cost per thousand impressions) on average it then turns out the company should have its pay outs made over the last months in the $3M-$6M range.

The site offers the following features and benefits.

  • Self-service, scalable and relevant content that’s free and easy to publish.
  • Dynamic, contextual widgets act as content (vs. ads) that more effectively targets your users, not the masses.
  • Extensive reporting tools and daily updates; Payouts are monthly.
  • Complements existing programs, such as Google AdSense.
  • Over 300 configurations, 256 color schemes and formatted for major IAB standard sizes.
  • Dynamic Ad Yield Management matches the best merchant for each product while offering consumers the best price.
  • MerchSense (patent pending) contextual algorithm automatically targets the right products for your site.
  • Manual configuration also available by category.
  • Product listings from 30,000 merchants including trusted leading brands.

Bloggers can customize what kinds of consumer items they want to appear in the widget (books, movies, computers, musical instruments), then they grab some code and put it on their blog. Or they can let Mpire (Widgetbucks’s parent company) serve up contextually relevant ads based on the topics they write about. WidgetBucks scans your site and tries to match ads to the keywords it finds. The widgets tap into merchandise from 30,000 retailers, including Amazon, Shopping.com, Target, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and the Gap. WidgetBucks shares the cost-per-click revenue with bloggers.

WidgetBucks comes to you from the folks at Mpire Corporation, the award-winning meta-shopping service. Mpire’s extensive shopping data experience, including its proprietary contextual, analytics and relevancy algorithms, power WidgetBucks. Founded in 2005, Mpire is backed by Ignition Partners and former eBay executive and Pay Pal angel investor Richard Rock.

The parent company is a shopping search engine. Not only will it give you a list of links to where to buy that 32-in. LCD TV, if you click on Show Product Details, it will display a pricing chart that shows whether the price is trending up or down, at both retail and at auction, so you can decide if it’s the right time to buy. The “shopping companion” browser plug-in, a free download, is handy to use when you are shopping at other sites; it shows what other etailers are charging for the item you’re looking at, so you can be sure to get the best deal. Soon it will also show how consumers rated the product on Epinions and Amazon. So far this site has indexed more than 150 million products offered by 55,000 online stores, from mom-and-pop Web shops to major e-tailers like Amazon.com, and it doesn’t accept payment from merchants for top placement in its search results.

The site (Mpire) has won a number of prestigious awards from TIME’s 50 Best Websites for 2007 to t the eBay’s winner of the Star Developer Award 2007.  WidgetBucks has also won the Mashable Open Web Award.

Others in the sector include Farecast that does the chart thing with airfares, TheFind.com, the old player Epinions and the new comer Proximic, which has just signed a deal with both Yahoo Shopping and eBay’s Shopping.com to contextually deliver their product ads to third party sites. There is also Google’s Gadget Ads (AdSense in a widget), AuctionAds, boobox, and even ThisNext.

Today it seems the company is up to something even bigger – the behavioral widget ads.

While WidgetBucks already had MergeSense to help you determine the best products to display on your site’s widgets, the next step was “to test ad placement within the widget,” says Matt Hulett, CEO of Widgetbucks. The new service is called YieldSense, which is quite close in title to another behavioral ad system called YieldBuild, which determines optimal placement of text ads throughout your website.

YieldSense has some basic behavioral ad techniques being applied to the widget ads. Experts claim widget makers with built in networks have a distinct advantage in the amount of data they’re able to pull, from CPM to attention data, along with the passive absorption of the experiences of ad networks that have come before them.

It seems widget builders and companies are poised to become dominant players in the behavioral ads market due to the nature of the widgets being embedded across number of third party sites gathering that way vast amount of information. WidgetBucks perhaps took that step a little sooner than others because its widget network in fact began as an advertising affiliate program.

Mpire Corporation is based in Seattle, WA.

The behavioral ads market is however not going to be a cake walk for most of the companies. Experts in the sector outline several major issues the industry is facing today. Issues like privacy, accuracy and quality, personalization and profiles are just a few of the behavioral targeting concerns today.

An alternative, being proposed, that solves the issues with both privacy and effectiveness is one centered on understanding the user’s intent, instead of their clickpath or profile, and pairing that with specific content, product, and advertising recommendations. This approach relies exclusively on the collective wisdom of like-minded peers who have demonstrated interests or engagement with similar content and context.

The concept of profiles is completely removed in this case, and instead by understanding the user’s expressed or implied intent that user will see the content that is appropriate to their current mindset.

This is the next evolution in user targeting that gets beyond clicks and analytics, and instead rests on a proven foundation of modern social science theory.  The approach is conceptually simple and mimics how we learn and act in everyday life – making choices based on what others who are in the same current mindset as us have done. More about the behavioral targeting can be read over here

The market

Behavioral advertising and behavioral targeting are both lately becoming yet another hot area in the online marketing space, with Tacoda recently acquired by AOL for an estimated amount of $200-300 million. Start ups are trying to analyze every move you do online and try to hook you up with the right ads, products and services. MyBuys is making no exception it tracks user behavior to help online retailers make better recommendations.

Competition in the field is staggering and some of the names include StyleFeeder relying on community recommendations and raised $1M so far, Wunderloop, Baynote, Matchmine, which also raised $10M recently and not last Aggregate Knowledge, which once used to be a hot start-up in the Silicon Valley. The last one that took a massive funding was MyBuys – $10M from Lightspeed Venture Partners and Palomar Ventures.

The demand among online retailers for better behavioral tracking is so high right now that MyBuys and its startup competitors are all able to gather this “low hanging fruit” — Lightspeed Venture Partner’s Peter Nieh explains further.

The market shakeout in behavioral targeting will resemble search engines startup in the 1990’s, Nieh, a Lightspeed Venture Partner, thinks: Many companies were able to search the web, but Google ended up doing it way better than the others, and captured the largest portion of the market.

More

http://www.widgetbucks.com/home.page
http://widgetbucks.blogspot.com/
http://mashable.com/2008/01/16/widgetbucks-yieldsense/
http://mashable.com/2007/10/02/widgetbucks/
http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1633488_1633458_1633489,00.html
http://blogs.mpire.com/?p=135
http://blogs.mpire.com/?p=135
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/01/19/proximic-lands-deals-with-yahoo-and-shoppingcom-said-to-be-taking-on-adsense-which-is-bad-pr-approach/
http://widgetbucks.blogspot.com/2007/11/widgetbucks-offering-cpm-ads-for.html
http://mashable.com/2008/01/16/widgetbucks-yieldsense/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/02/a-widget-that-actually-makes-money/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/05/09/mpire-launches-widgets-for-ebay-and-amazon-affiliates/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/01/11/behavioral-targeting-is-busted-but-marketers-are-barking-up-the-wrong-tree/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2007/12/26/behavioral-recommendation-service-for-shoppers-raises-10-million-market-heats-up/

Technorati’s total funding revealed – $21.6 to date in 3 rounds

Technorati, the blog search engine, has always been quite secretive about the funding it got over the years leaving people like us, always interested in the money behind the Web 2.0, speculate about the right numbers.  

Things changed the last month when we have read over multiple trusted sources on Web that the company has raised $21M so far in three rounds of financing. Those numbers are believed to be the right ones. Our attempt to dig some more information about what are the different numbers for the 3 rounds yielded some results. Who the Technorati’s investors are, anyway?

Technorati is now known to have raised $4.58M in its series A round of funding. However the particular date and who the investor both remain unknown. In September 2004 the company has already gotten its Series B round of funding, which today is known to be $6.50M from Draper Fisher Jurvetson as the only participant known to date. 2 years later, in June 2006, the company already needed to raise more capital and has closed its Series C round of funding this time raising $10.52M from August Capital, Mobius Venture Capital and the returning investor Draper Fisher Jurvetson. Total funding for Technorati to date seems to be already $21.6M.

The company is most popular with the fact that it was smart enough to be the first one to try and tap into the newly born and rapidly growing trend by 2002 — the blogging and its grown community of bloggers. It then became the first search engine for bloggers and blogs on Web. Today the company is facing huge completion by a number of companies like Google blog search, IceRocket, Feedster, Bloglines, Yahoo! Search Blog, Ask.com’s Blogs, Blogdigger and let’s put it that way – pretty much every other company out there that used to be once a search engine has now added a blog search too. You can here find a basic list of blog search engines.

The rivals were some of the leading Internet companies and it was hard for Technorati not to lose market share. And in December 2006 it happened, for the first time, Google Blogsearch surpassed Technorati in total visits. It then was said that Google Blog Search had passed 0.0025% of total internet traffic, according to Hitwise, versus 0.0023% for Technorati. The reason for the surge seemed pretty straightforward: Google linked their Blog Search product to Google News in October, which had an immediate and significant impact on traffic. Google also added a Blog Search link in the “More” section on the Google main page. It was not enough to take the lead, but a recent Technorati decline in traffic put Google’s Blog Search on top.

Allen Stern from CenterNetworks, by contrast, said by the time that Google blog search is not what Technorati should be compared to anymore. Google integrates blog searches into their main search and so therefore, if anything, the comparison should be between Google search vs. Technorati. The majority of people searching for terms are looking for the summation of all types of results: “standard” web sites, blog, video, image, etc.

Whatever the case is one thing is today for sure, the blog search is already an integrated part of the general search that hundreds of millions of people perform on daily basis on a number of search engines from Google to Ask.com, most of them done on Google, and Technorati cannot anymore claim exclusivity on blog searches, even though it was the first one in the field. That’s why Technorati was forced to evolve too and is now searching for social media too like photos, video and music, posted on online sharing sites, and a tag cloud on the home page shows you the hot topics of the day.

In early 2007 Technorati was rumored to be trying to sell itself. By that time Technorati’s CEO (and founder) Dave Sifry responded “I’ll be very clear about it – Technorati isn’t for sale.” As the practice shows when one claims his company is not for sale it always this company is for sale, but for the right buyers and price. By that time Dave has revealed some more numbers on the site’s usage. Technorati, he said, has had 9 million unique visitors over the last thirty days, up from 3.5 million two months ago. And while he did not disclose the actual page views, he said they increased 53% in March, and 141% over the last three months. Those are quite impressive numbers and are perhaps meant for the eyes/ears of some potential buyers, despite their claims of not selling themselves.

In May 2007, Technorati completely re-designed their home page to respond to their more mainstream users. They now have a single search box instead of using search types like keyword search, tag search and blog directory search. Results are returned in categories like videos, blogs and music.

In few months, in October 2007, Technorati has announced its search for a new CEO was over, with Richard Jalichandra being appointed to the role, some 6 weeks since Technorati’s founding CEO David Sifry stepped down and 5 months since it was publicly confirmed that Technorati was seeking a new CEO.

Several months later, in December 2007, Technorati re-launched again as this time trying to focus, again, on core blogging audience. The recently changed home page, just three months old, is gone. In place of the streaming blog posts is a news aggregator that, like TechMeme and the New York Times’ Blogrunner, uses linking behavior on news sites to determine headline news. In addition to the Front Page news aggregator, Technorati has made two other big additions to the site. The first is a resource page for bloggers called, fittingly, Blogger Central. The second is a new product called Today In Photos.

On the other hand Time magazine has recently named Technorati one of the 25 sites for 2007 they weren’t able to live without.

More recently, Technorati started downsizing staff (9 people have been laid off in August 2007) as the approx. $21 million raised over three rounds started to dry up. We have also discovered some technical details about the current IT infrastructure that backs Technorati up. They have more than 20TB (Terabytes) of core data in their MySQL running on over 20 machines. With replication they add 200TB and 200 machines more. No matter how you look into this, it is for sure adding up a serious burden over the company’s budget.

Well, we have seen a lot of numbers for Technorati’s site usage, from Comscore’s and Hitwise’s to Quantcast’s and Compete’s but how the numbers look like today. This is what we have discovered. According to Quantcast Technorati is presently reaching over 8M unique global visitors per month and only 2.8M of which are Americans. We can take that number for real since Technorati is quantified publisher at Quantcast. We have seen in the past numbers in the 22M/mo range reported for Technorati and if it turns out to be true the present numbers represent a serious decline in Technorati’s site usage.

Nonetheless, we think Technorati worth anything but $100M, at least, as of today.  We know the guys at Technorati won’t like that number and just like Digg (looking for over $300M) they are also thinking their business worth much more and are probably looking for much higher valuation than $100M. Technorati was definitely and unarguable the first one to define the market but is also not anymore the leader in the space. The company has strong brand awareness but everyone knows it is relatively easy (compared to traditional businesses) to make and easy to ruin an online brand. On the other hand Technorati has no strong technology and is facing huge competition and a potential buyer would eventually consider them only because of their traffic and reach. What Technorati needs to convince their future suitors is whether they will preserve and grow their traffic or not. Buyers are interested in what the site would look like in future in terms of traffic and revenues and are not really looking in the past, aside perhaps overseeing trends.

We have no idea what the Technorati’s revenues are as of today but Sifry has said in August 2007 that Technorati is now a revenue stage business – we’ve been hiring up sales folks, as well as building much more detailed roadmaps and product pipelines. Customer-driven needs, pipeline management, operational management, and expense control are now a much bigger part of our life as a company than it was when we were running on a couple of servers in my basement. 

Or in the case with Technorati we talk for valuation without revenue? Great examples from the past of high-profile acquisitions of companies with little to no revenues are both Hotmail (1998) and Skype, the second one managed to drive multi-billion dollar valuation at little to no revenues in its deal with eBay in 2005. Could the Technorati’s case be the same? Don’t forget here the YouTube’s deal.

A proven monetization model over Internet is segmentation. Technorati, especially, needs to ask itself the question: What is my segmentation strategy, around which I can offer my advertisers a compelling marketing vehicle? Technorati has clearly lost its momentum and peak traffic times and is today more declining rather than expanding. Today, Yahoo is a portfolio of haphazardly organized content and services which don’t clearly align with segments desired by advertisers. Neither, for that matter, is Google, although it managed to drive huge sales off its AdWords/AdSense strategy. Technorati, for example, is also having a pretty much generic traffic, which makes the effective monetization a hard task for the company.

We can draw a basic conclusion here. Before everything, Technorati has been a symbolic web site for the blogging world ever since and based on its present traffic of more than 8M unique visitors per month could be a great add on to the Web portfolio on each company from the big 6 Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, eBay, AOL and Amazon. We would exclude Google from the list. Other potential acquirers would include media companies like New York Times, which once btw was reported to be interested in Digg, and since there are synergies between, it is not completely out of sense. Fox Interactive, IAC (potentially merging with their Bloglines), among others could also be interested in potentially having Technorati part of their web properties. We would take the chance to predict that a potential sale of Technorati this year would command a price in the $100 / $150M range. The given price tag is only valid if Technorati preserves its current traffic of 8/10M unique visitors per month.

More about Technorati

Technorati is currently tracking 112.8 million blogs and over 250 million pieces of tagged social media.

Technorati is the recognized authority on what’s happening on the World Live Web, right now. The Live Web is the dynamic and always-updating portion of the Web. We search, surface, and organize blogs and the other forms of independent, user-generated content (photos, videos, voting, etc.) increasingly referred to as “citizen media.”

But it all started with blogs. A blog, or weblog, is a regularly updated journal published on the web. Some blogs are intended for a small audience; others vie for readership with national newspapers. Blogs are influential, personal, or both, and they reflect as many topics and opinions as there are people writing them.

Blogs are powerful because they allow millions of people to easily publish and share their ideas, and millions more to read and respond. They engage the writer and reader in an open conversation, and are shifting the Internet paradigm as we know it.

On the World Live Web, bloggers frequently link to and comment on other blogs, creating the type of immediate connection one would have in a conversation. Technorati tracks these links, and thus the relative relevance of blogs, photos, videos etc. We rapidly index tens of thousands of updates every hour, and so we monitor these live communities and the conversations they foster.

The World Live Web is incredibly active, and according to Technorati data, there are over 175,000 new blogs (that’s just blogs) every day. Bloggers update their blogs regularly to the tune of over 1.6 million posts per day, or over 18 updates a second.

Technorati. Who’s saying what. Right now

Technorati Management Team

Richard Jalichandra
President & Chief Executive Officer
Richard is a veteran Internet executive whose media experience includes leadership roles across the media spectrum: as a client, at an agency, as a publisher, and with an advertising network. Most recently, he worked as an M&A and strategy consultant for several Internet properties and investment firms, and also served as SVP of Corporate Development for Exponential Interactive, Tribal Fusion’s parent company. Previously, he was SVP of Business Development for Fox Interactive Media, and was the Vice President of Business & Corporate Development at IGN Entertainment (acquired by Fox Interactive), where he led the company’s M&A, business development and international activities. Before joining IGN, Richard led national accounts sales at Lycos, was Vice President of Business Development at Neopost Online, served as Senior Vice President/Managing Director of Answerthink, and founded K23 Creative Services in Singapore. His early career included management roles for Ford, IBM and Siemens, and he has a B.S. in business administration from the University of Southern California and an M.B.A. from the University of Washington.

Dorion Carroll
Vice President of Engineering
Dorion Carroll is a 20-year veteran engineer with deep experience developing product and services in areas including search, email processing, e-commerce, personalization, ad targeting, CRM, data warehousing, order management and financial services. Prior to joining Technorati, Dorion was director of engineering at Postini, Vice President of Engineering and General Manager of Neomeo (which was acquired by Postini), Technologist-in-Residence at Softbank Venture Capital, and Senior Director of Engineering at Excite@Home, among other roles. Dorion has a Bachelor of Arts from Pitzer College, with four years Mathematics / Computer Science at Harvey Mudd College, in Claremont, California.

Peter Hirshberg
Chairman of the Executive Committee & CMO, Technorati Inc.
Peter Hirshberg is an entrepreneur and marketing innovator who has led emerging media and technology companies at the center of disruptive change for more than 20 years. As Chairman & Chief Marketing Officer of Technorati, he oversees the company’s sales, marketing and business development activities as well as its partnerships with the media, entertainment and marketing industries. Previously Hirshberg served as president and CEO of Gloss.com, the online prestige beauty business co-owned by Estee Lauder Companies, Chanel and Clarins; he was Chairman of Interpacket Networks, the global leader in Internet-by-satellite (sold to American Tower in 2000), and was founder and CEO of Elemental Software (sold to Macromedia in 1999). Peter was at Apple Computer for nine years where he held a number of leadership positions, including Director of Enterprise Markets. He is a Trustee of The Computer History Museum and a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute. Peter earned his bachelor’s degree at Dartmouth College and his MBA at Wharton.

Joi Ito
Vice President of International Business and Mobile Devices, Technorati Inc.
Joichi Ito is in charge of international and mobility development for Technorati. He is founder and CEO of Neoteny, a venture capital firm which is the lead investor in Six Apart, and is on the board of Creative Commons. He has created numerous Internet companies including PSINet Japan, Digital Garage, and Infoseek Japan. In 1997, Time Magazine ranked him as a member of the CyberElite. In 2000 he was ranked among the “50 Stars of Asia” by Business Week and commended by the Japanese Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications for supporting the advancement of IT. In 2001 the World Economic Forum chose him as one of the 100 “Global Leaders of Tomorrow” for 2002. He was appointed as a member of Howard Dean’s Net Advisory Net during the Dean campaign.

Teresa Malo
Chief Financial Officer
Teresa is a CPA with over 17 years experience in finance and operations, and she’s responsible for Technorati’s financial, legal, and HR organizations. She has worked with technology startup companies such as Calico Commerce and Zambeel, as well as with established companies, including Arbor Software and Silicon Graphics. Teresa started her career as an accountant with Pannell, Kerr, Forster, a national public accounting firm. She holds Bachelor’s degrees in Accounting and Computer Information systems from Arizona State University and the University of Washington.

Technorati Board of Directors

David L. Sifry
Founder & Chairman of the Board, Technorati, Inc.
David Sifry is a serial entrepreneur with over 20 years of software development and industry experience. Before founding Technorati, Dave was cofounder and CTO of Sputnik, a Wi-Fi gateway company, and previously, he was cofounder of Linuxcare, where he served as CTO and VP of Engineering. Dave also served as a founding member of the board of Linux International and on the technical advisory board of the National Cybercrime Training Partnership for law enforcement. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins University. Dave can often be found speaking on panels and giving lectures on a variety of technology issues, ranging from wireless spectrum policy and Wi-Fi, to Weblogs and Open Source software.

Peter Hirshberg
Chairman of the Executive Committee & CMO, Technorati Inc.

Joi Ito
Vice President of International Business and Mobile Devices, Technorati, Inc.

Ryan McIntyre
Principal, Mobius Venture Capital
Ryan McIntyre joined Mobius Venture Capital in 2000 as an Associate Partner and was promoted to Principal in 2001. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. McIntyre co-founded Excite in 1993, which went public in 1996 and later became Excite@Home (Nasdaq:ATHM) following the merger of Excite and @Home in 1999. There he held the role of Principal Engineer and was a key technological contributor to the company’s search engine and content management systems, and also led the design and implementation of Excite’s community and commerce platforms. Mr. McIntyre holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Symbolic Systems with a concentration in Artificial Intelligence from Stanford University. While at Stanford, he published research on genetic algorithms in the The First IEEE Conference on Evolutionary Computation, and studied at Stanford’s overseas campus in Berlin, Germany.

Sanford R. Robertson
Principal, Francisco Partners
Sanford R. Robertson is a principal of Francisco Partners, one of the world’s largest technology buyout funds. With a focus on structured investments in technology and technology-related businesses, Francisco Partners is a pioneer in the private equity category of Technology Buyouts. Prior to founding Francisco Partners, Mr. Robertson was the founder and chairman of Robertson, Stephens & Co., a leading technology investment bank formed in 1978, and sold to BankBoston in 1998. Mr. Robertson was also the founder of Robertson, Colman, Siebel & Weisel, later renamed Montgomery Securities, another prominent technology investment bank. He has had significant financing involvement in more than 500 growth technology companies throughout his career, including 3Com Corporation (Nasdaq: COMS), America Online, Inc., Applied Materials, Inc. (Nasdaq: AMAT), Ascend Communications Inc., Dell Computer Corporation (Nasdaq: DELL), E*Trade Securities, Inc. (Nasdaq: ETFC), Siebel Systems, Inc. and Sun Microsystems, Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW). Mr. Robertson received both a B.A. and an M.B.A. with Distinction from the University of Michigan.

Andreas Stavropoulous
Managing Director, Draper Fisher Jurvetson
Mr. Stavropoulos focuses primarily on software investments (enterprise infrastructure and consumer/Internet), wireless networking, and technology-enabled services. Prior to joining DFJ, Mr. Stavropoulos was with McKinsey & Company’s San Francisco office, where he worked with senior management teams of corporate clients with an emphasis on information technology. Prior to McKinsey, he was a Senior Analyst at Cornerstone Research, a financial and economic consulting firm that helps resolve complex issues arising in high-profile business litigation. Mr. Stavropoulos holds Bachelor’s and Masters degrees in computer science from Harvard University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he was a Baker Scholar and graduated first in his class.

More

http://technorati.com/
http://technorati.com/weblog/
http://www.sifry.com/alerts/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/04/exclusive-technorati-relaunches-to-focus-on-core-blogging-audience/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/technorati
http://www.niallkennedy.com/blog/2006/12/google-blog-search-technorati-market-share.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/11/05/technorati-drops-content-older-than-6-months-old/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/12/28/google-v-technorati-and-hitwise-v-comscore/
http://www.centernetworks.com/why-comparing-technorati-to-google-blog-search-is-not-valid
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Blog_search_engines
http://www.sifry.com/alerts/archives/000492.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/04/03/technoratis-mating-dance/
http://www.sifry.com/alerts/archives/000492.html
http://atomicbomb.typepad.com/
http://www.centernetworks.com/web-apps-customer-service-face-off#technorati
http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1638266_1638253_1638241,00.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/01/new-technorati-ceo-has-a-challenge-ahead/
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=prnw.20071001.AQM180&show_article=1&lsn=1
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/08/16/watching-technorati-and-podtech-fall-apart/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/09/30/techmeme-leaderboard-to-launch-attacking-technoratis-last-stronghold/
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/0/2/9a2 (Richard Jalichandra)
http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-thu_tagsjun14,0,3843733.story?coll=chi-business-hed
http://valleywag.com/tech/rumormonger/technoratis-search-247549.php
http://markevanstech.com/2007/04/03/talking-up-technorati/
http://www.guardian.co.uk/weekend/story/0,,1937507,00.html
http://www.time.com/time/globalbusiness/article/0,9171,1565540,00.html
http://sramanamitra.com/2006/02/23/technorati-valuation-without-revenue/
http://www.iac.com/businesses.html
http://mysqluc.com/presentations/mysql06/carroll_dorion.ppt