Category Archives: Yahoo

Microsoft – Yahoo saga seems to be over!

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 Microsoft has formally withdrawn their offer to buy Yahoo while the second publicly declared a victory for the Web at all.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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Really more from MS/Yahoo’s saga

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Really more from MS/Yahoo’s saga

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

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

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

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

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

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

Really more

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

AOL is offered up for sale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More about AOL

A Global Ad-Supported Web Services Company

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

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

Core Statistics

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

 A sophisticated advertising network

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

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

Industry-leading products and programs

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

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

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

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

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

Expanding worldwide

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

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

More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More about Maven Networks

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

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

The Market

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile the Microsoft / Yahoo saga is continuing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More

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

And here is what Microsoft has to tell Yahoo!

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

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

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

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

About Microsoft

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Yahoo! Inc.

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

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

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

More

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

End of speculations: Yahoo rejected Microsoft’s offer

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

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

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

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

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

Is there any chance for Microsoft to increase its offer?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

More

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

More

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

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/

A big question: is Alibaba.com overvalued or Yahoo is seriously undervalued?

Let’s put it that way Alibaba lost $13B from its market cap in just one month, yet the company’s market value is close to 50% from what Yahoo!’s current value is!

When Alibaba went public on the Honk Hong Stock Exchange a couple of months ago everything was more than perfect and the company has raised from the public sector the whopping amount of $1.49 Billion. Alibaba’s market capitalization then skyrocketed to the $25.7B range, just not too far from what Yahoo!’s market capitalization looked like by the time of the IPO of the Chinese Internet company. All those numbers made it the largest Internet IPO in Asia and the second largest globally. Yahoo! was then happy too.

Shares of Alibaba.com, the Chinese B2B marketplace, nearly tripled in their Hong Kong debut, closing at HK$39.50 (US$5.09), after its IPO priced at HK $13.50 (US$1.74). The steep rise was easy to see coming, considering the groundswell of enthusiasm for the company preceding the IPO. The company quickly reached a $25.7 billion market cap, which brings it close with Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) Japan as the largest internet company in Asia, according to online sources. 

Alibaba.com and its parent company Alibaba Group initially offered a total of 858,901,000 shares under the Global Offering, of which 227,356,500 shares were offered by the Company and 631,544,500 shares were offered by Alibaba Group. An additional 113,678,000 shares were sold by Alibaba Group upon exercise by the International Underwriters of their Over-Allotment Option.

The eight Cornerstone Investors which participated in the Global Offering included Yahoo! Inc., AIG Global Investment Corporation (Asia) Limited, Foxconn (Far East) Limited, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Asia) Limited, Cisco Systems International B.V., and entities affiliated with Mr. Peter Kwong Ching Woo (Chairman of The Wharf (Holdings) Limited), the Kwok family (controlling shareholders of Sun Hung Kai Properties Limited) and Mr. Kuok Hock Nien.

The total cornerstone investment was HK$2.1 billion (US$274 million) and all Cornerstone Investors agreed to a lock-up period of 24 months from the date of listing.

Goldman Sachs (Asia) L.L.C. and Morgan Stanley Asia Limited were the Joint Global Coordinators and Joint Sponsors, and with Deutsche Bank AG, Hong Kong Branch, Joint Bookrunners and Joint Lead Managers of the Global Offering while N M Rothschild & Sons (Hong Kong) Limited was the Financial Advisor to the Company.

Let’s take a look at how the things looked like for the US Internet giant by that time.

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’s about 16.7% of Yahoo’s then $42 billion valuation.

What happened next? A few days after the IPO things appeared to be worsening. Many investors took the money and ran, driving shares of Alibaba.com Ltd. down 17% a day after their debut, when they nearly tripled from their initial-public-offering price. Analysts said the flagship business-to-business unit of Alibaba Group is likely to fall further on continued profit-taking for a while, as the stock is still overvalued. The shares of Alibaba.com then fell to 32.60 Hong Kong dollars (US$4.20) from almost 41.50HKD. Aside the fears of the investors that the stock price was unsustainable the company’s stock was also hit by Yahoo!’s CEO Jerry Yang’s appearance on Capitol Hill, defending the company’s handling of Chinese censorship probe. The major support, however, for the company’s falling stock price came earlier this month when Yahoo! announced to lay off hundreds of employees. The final number of people to be laid off from Yahoo’s work force of about 14,000 is yet to be determined and is likely to be announced around the end of the month, perhaps during Yahoo’s January 29 conference call with analysts after it reports fourth-quarter financial results, but it for sure had influenced the stock performance of its smaller Chinese brother Alibaba. Over the weekend, some blogs reported that Yahoo was considering layoffs of 10 percent to 20 percent of its work force. But the people close to the company, who discussed Yahoo’s layoff plans on condition that they are yet to be identified, said the cuts would likely be in the “hundreds.” Yahoo’s stock itself declined 20 percent in the last quarter.

Alibaba’s today stock price is 20.20HKD fallen down from 40.50HKD as what the price was in its best days. The company’s market capitalization is close to $13B (US Dollars), which is a major decline from what the company’s highest value was – close to $26B. 

So, let’s now take a look at how the things look like for the US Internet giant today. Logically Yahoo!’s interest total market value in Alibaba.com is now close to $3,5B falling down from the previous $7B mark. A couple of months ago Alibaba’s value was about 16.7% of Yahoo’s then $42 billion valuation. Today Yahoo!’s market capitalization is $27.77B, which makes Alibaba’s today value close to 50% of Yahoo!’s market value.

The big question here is 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 show big difference, no?

All calculations are made on the 1 HKD = 0.128087 USD and 1 CNY (RMB) = 0.138941 USD basis respectively.

More about Alibaba.com

Alibaba.com (HKSE:1688), a member of the Alibaba Group of companies, is one of the world’s premier e-commerce brands and the number one online marketplace for global and domestic China trade. We provide an efficient, trusted platform connecting small and medium-sized buyers and suppliers from around the world. Our international marketplace (www.alibaba.com) focuses on global importers and exporters and our China marketplace (www.alibaba.com.cn) focuses on suppliers and buyers trading domestically in China. Together our marketplaces form a community of more than 24 million registered users from over 200 countries and regions.

Our operational headquarters is based in Hangzhou in eastern China. We have field sales and marketing offices in more than 30 cities in China, Hong Kong, Switzerland and the United States. The company had more than 4,400 full-time employees as of June 30, 2007.

History & Milestones
Jack Ma, our lead founder and chairman, and 18 other founders launched Alibaba.com in his Hangzhou apartment in 1999. Originally, Alibaba.com operated as a bulletin board service for businesses to post buy and sell trade leads, and later became a vibrant marketplace for small and medium enterprises around the world to identify potential trading partners and interact with each other to conduct business online. Alibaba.com listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on November 6, 2007 and is the flagship business of the Alibaba Group.

  • October 2000 Gold Supplier membership launched to serve China exporters.
  • August 2001 International TrustPass membership launched to serve exporters outside of China.
  • March 2002 China TrustPass membership launched to serve SMEs engaging in domestic China trade.
  • July 2002 Keyword services launched on our international marketplace.
  • November 2003 TradeManager instant messaging software launched to enable users to communicate in real time on our marketplaces.
  • March 2005 Keyword bidding launched on our China marketplace.
  • April 2007 Gold Supplier membership launched to serve Hong Kong exporters.
  • November 2007 Alibaba.com listed on the Main Board of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited, under stock code 1688.

Below is what the Alibaba’s CEO David Wei stated at the time of their IPO.

We have just celebrated our successful listing on the Main Board of The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited and I’d like to welcome all our new investors and many thanks for your visionary investing commitment.

Alibaba.com’s mission is to make it easy to do business anywhere. Over the years, we focused on Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (“SMEs”) sector, which have been the key driving forces for China’s economic growth and playing an increasingly important role in China’s economy. Through our world’s leading B2B e-Commerce marketplaces, we have made it possible for SMEs to grow their business and reach out to the world. We will maintain such long term focus by providing the best user and customer experience.

We take our responsibility to our shareholders very seriously. We adhere to the highest levels of ethical practices and create optimal corporate governance. Our Board of Directors include a number of experienced and high caliber independent directors who chair and run our board committees.

Going public is another a milestone in Alibaba.com’s history. Our belief of being a public company is to create growing sustainable value for customers and shareholders. I look forward to the ongoing support of our shareholders as we continue to build the world’s number one online marketplace for international and China trade.

More

http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2007/11/06/huge-surge-in-alibabacom-stock-price-following-ipo-could-spur-tuesday-rally-in-yahoo-shares/
http://sanjose.bizjournals.com/sanjose/stories/2007/01/29/daily22.html?from_msn_money=1
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601080&sid=aLtQSTnRGzdw&refer=asia
http://www.alibaba.com/
http://www.yahoo.com/
http://ir.alibaba.com/ir/stock_information.html
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=1688.hk
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119446125893585466.html?mod=yahoo_hs&ru=yahoo
http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-alibabacom-prices-at-top-of-the-range
http://www.news.com/Hundreds-of-layoffs-expected-at-Yahoo/2100-1038_3-6227041.html?tag=nefd.top
http://yhoo.client.shareholder.com/
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=YHOO
http://www.tjacobi.com/50226711/alibabacom_revenue.php
http://money.cnn.com/2006/12/31/news/international/alibaba/index.htm
http://startuplay.com/tag/alibaba
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/fn/5491544.html
http://www.forbes.com/business/2008/01/09/china-internet-media-biz-media-cx_pm_0109notes.html
http://online.barrons.com/article/SB119931045594863115.html?mod=googlenews_barrons
http://www.hkex.com.hk/
http://www.247wallst.com/2008/01/the-coming-inte.html
http://www.hkex.com.hk/Alibaba.htm
http://www.alibaba.com/aboutalibaba/releases_071106.html

Wall Street plunged but does it affect the Web 2.0

Wall Street plunged at the opening of trading Tuesday, propelling the Dow Jones industrials down about 300 points after an interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve failed to assuage investors fearing a recession in the United States.

U.S. markets joined stock exchanges around the world that have fallen precipitously in recent days amid concerns that a downturn might spread around the world. U.S. bonds were mixed, with investors seeking safer investments as stocks plummeted. The oil price, by contrast, fell amid expectations that a downturn would depress demand for energy.

The Fed’s decision to cut its federal funds rate to 3.50% and the discount rate, the interest it charges to lend directly to banks, came a week before the central bank’s regularly scheduled meeting, a sign that the Fed recognized the seriousness of the world financial situation. But there were already fears in the markets before the Fed move that an interest rate wouldn’t be enough to prevent a recession. The cut was the biggest one-day rate move by the Fed since it lowered rates by a full percentage point in December 1991, when the country was trying to emerge from recession.

In the first hour of trading, the Dow was down 293.70, or 2.43 percent, at 11,805.60. The Dow was last below 12,000 in March 2007. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index was off 32.49, or 2.45 percent, at 1,292.70, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 66.82, or 2.86 percent, to 2,273.20.

It was the first time the Fed altered the target federal funds rate between scheduled meetings since the markets reopened after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

It’s been a black year so far for stocks. The SP 500 index, the broadest measure of the stock market, has suffered its worst annual start ever, giving up about 13 percent in just three weeks. The Dow is down about 12 percent since the beginning of the year, and the Nasdaq is down approximately 15 percent.

On the other side the government bond prices surged as stocks fell and investors fled to safer securities. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, sank to 3.53 percent from 3.63 percent late Friday.

Both Asian and European markets have also fallen seriously where the Asian market was hit harder. Japan’s Nikkei stock average closed down 5.65 percent — its biggest percentage drop in nearly a decade. The German’s DAX for instance fell to the level of mid 2007, yet higher than the levels of January 2007.

Did the crisis affect the major Internet players anyway?

Below is a quick outlook of some of the more important Internet players and how their stocks performed for today. Clearly everything was colored in red.

Company / Stock Symbol / Last Trade / Change / Mkt Cap

  • Microsoft Corporation  MSFT  32.05   -0.96 ( -2.91% )  299.84B
  • Google Inc.  GOOG  590.14   -10.11 ( -1.68% )   184.62B
  • News Corporation  NWS.A  18.59   -0.10 ( -0.54% )  58.05B
  • Time Warner Inc.  TWX  15.07   -0.47 ( -3.02% )  54.62B
  • eBay Inc.  EBAY  27.13   -1.20 ( -4.24% )  36.68B
  • Amazon.com, Inc.  AMZN  77.62   -2.14 ( -2.68% )  32.31B
  • Yahoo! Inc.  YHOO  20.02   -0.76 ( -3.66% )  26.78B
  • Baidu.com, Inc. (ADR)  BIDU  270.40   -2.64 ( -0.97% )  9.12B
  • IAC/InterActiveCorp  IACI  24.14   +0.02 ( 0.08% )  6.85B
  • SINA Corporation (USA)  SINA  38.95   -0.26 ( -0.66% )  2.13B
  • Sohu.com Inc.  SOHU  39.99   -2.06 ( -4.90% )  1.49B
  • CNET Networks, Inc.  CNET  7.78   -0.38 ( -4.66% )  1.18B 

Alibaba.com Corp., yet another major Internet player, which is traded on the Honk Kong stock market, has today lost 8.91% from its market capitalization.

From all the companies we took a look at only IAC seems to be the winner for today (at the moment we checked them out) – having its stock price colored green.

The big loser could be Answers Corporation which got its stock smashed on Friday, dropping more than 23%. Answers’ plunge jeopardizes Lexico acquisition, which they were hoping to buy for $100M, a deal we have reported a few weeks ago. It is hard to believe that answers.com is attracting more than 34M unique visitors per month and the entire company is today worth less than $30M. The company once was over $140M worth when its stock was close to $18.

The venture capital market

Reporters went public today on the venture capital market released from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association. Total venture funding for the year were up 10.8 percent to $29.4 billion, and up 11.5 percent for the fourth quarter of 2007 to $7 billion. That makes it the fourth straight quarter where VC deals were above the $7 billion mark, and the highest yearly total since 2001. 2007 was a year of steady gains for VC investing, the highest since the $40.6 billion invested in 2001 (and still well-below the $105 billion in 2000).

What about the new entrants from the web 2.0 age?

Facebook the most buzzed web 2.0 company seems to be rethinking the perfect time for their IPO and rumors are they are going to postpone it to at least 2009 or even 2010 if markets recover. Digg, yet another popular web site from the web 2.0 age, is trying to shop itself for months now at the $300M range but we hear no any news for potential acquisition of the social news site.

Despite all talks for possible recession in US and despite all huge losses the major banks in US have incurred, the web 2.0 deals appear to be more than ever before. For example only today [January 22, 2008] we have read about 10 deals at least where the average funding figures where close to $15M. Over the past 30 days, no matter we were in holiday season we have written down to report later more than 100 VC deals for web 2.0 companies, most of them start-up, and at least 20 acquisition and buy out deals with in the sector. Almost half of the deals reported on that particular day were acquisitions. Also today a major VC player has raised $577M late stage growth fund for. The web 2.0 market is going crazier from day to day and the peak seems not reached yet. Based on what we are witnessing the major credit and financial crisis in the states is not affecting the relatively small web 2.0 sector. All the VC activity within the sector gives no signals about crisis or any major slow down in the web 2.0 market, at least for now.
More

http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/080122/wall_street.html
http://www.nyse.com 
http://www.nasdaq.com
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/21/venture-fundings-hit-294-billion-in-2007-the-year-in-charts/
http://finance.google.com/finance?q=GOOG
http://stocks.us.reuters.com/stocks/overview.asp?symbol=1688.HK
http://finance.google.com/finance?q=ANSW
http://www.bloggingstocks.com/2008/01/20/dilution-is-not-the-answers-com/
http://www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/docview.asp?did=1000299719&fid=942

Proximic lands deals with Yahoo! and Shopping.com, said to be taking on AdSense, which is bad PR approach!

Content-delivery network Proximic, which has a unique contextual matching system, now has ads to sell that can help bloggers and others monetize their sites. The Munich Germany based start-up has signed deals to syndicate product listings from both eBay’s Shopping.com and Yahoo’s Shopping Network as contextual ads on other Websites. What other web sources claim the company is going to have more than 50 million product ad units in its data base coming in from both Yahoo! Shopping and eBay’s Shopping.com. Proximic estimates that Google, in contrast, has an inventory of about one million unique ads. Proximic’s ad network based on this massive inventory will launch at the end of January or early February 2008.

Web publishers are going to be offered with a way to place a widget on their sites, which Proximic is later going to use to serve ads on. Web site participating in the network are going to be later indexed and served up with contextually matching products as text ads along with contextually relevant content links. The ads and contextual links can also appear in a sidebar for anyone who has downloaded the Proximic Firefox add-on.

Proximic is neither matching context based on the keywords nor on the context itself. The company also says it doesn’t use semantic or statistical methodologies to understand the page’s meaning. “Semantic systems are not able to scale,” claims Proximic co-founder and CTO Thomas Nitsche. He also adds “If you hold more than one million documents, you run into a problem,”. Semantic search, he thinks, is too slow at this point for ad serving. Instead of keyword, semantic, or statistical approaches, Proximic uses proximity analysis to determine the page’s context. There is no much information publicly available as to how exactly it works, but from what we know and have read Proximic’s algorithm is translating each body of text into a pattern of characters that then becomes represented by a mathematical vector. Matches are done through traditional vector analysis. The company gives the following explanation:

We look at patterns of letters. We get a profile. The profile is a vector. We compare two vectors, and compute proximity by pattern distance. We can generate proximity between texts. The text can be one word, two words, 15 words, or a complete page.

We have read on other blogs claims of the sort Proximic is taking on Google AdSense, which has provoked us to give our 2 cents too and we think that such claims are, if anything, too boostful and not serious in any way and could be more harmful to the image of Proximic rather than brining anything like positive PR at the end of the day…

Ok, here we go with several potential problems, as we see them, Proximic is going to face and needs to deal with.

First
First off no site running Google AdSense is going to give up on its Google ads and earnings and replace them with an unknown start up that has little to no advertisers on its network. Why? Simply because Google does not allow your site or blog to run third party contextual ads (no matter what technology is used to match the context) on a page where their AdSense ad units run, which leaves little to no chance for Proximic’s contextual ads to stand off the ground any soon or at least not on sites that are currently Google AdSense publishers. There is clearly going to be a conflict of the two contextual ad units and Google is not going to be the one who will be dropped off by the web publishers.

Second
If Proximic is indexing each page, as we read above, that becomes part of its network then they would also need 600,000 servers to get any closer to what Google is today (check the link for more info about the Google’s computation expenditures).

Third
Revenue sharing with web publishers is not going to be very favorable for the web publishers who are going to participate in Proximic’s ad network after eBay, Yahoo! and Proximic itself all get their cut. We have read on Web that Proximic plans on giving participating websites 70 percent of any revenues after eBay and Yahoo! take their cut, which clearly leaves the publishers with a very small piece of the pie. On the other side, if they want to spread around Web, the way Google did, they have to pay web publishers serious money, lots of money, before even starting to think on competing with Google AdSense. Let’s put it that way: we see no way for Proximic to reach the payout Google achieved – $3.5B paid to web publishers in the first 3 quarters of 2007…

Forth
Proximic is not the first third party company to serve ad units from Yahoo! Shopping and eBay’s shopping.com. Even today you can sign up for Shopping.com or Yahoo! Shopping’s developer program and get listings up by next week. There are a number of other shopping engine syndication programs and most of them allow you to target to some extent. One of which is Shopzilla, among others, and Proximic is going to face fierce competition for the love of eBay and Yahoo!.

Fifth
In tests, Nitsche says Proximic is seeing click-through rates as high as 1.5 percent, which is much greater than the 0.25 percent or less that is typical for an AdSense campaign. That’s simply not true. We have been Google AdSense publisher since 2004 and our average click-through ratio has always been way above 1.5%, so speaking for precise targeting we’ll have to wait and see what Proximic is capable of.

Sixth
Proximic claims to be showing relevant results based on the content one is reading by gathering results from multiple sources, including Wikipedia but a weak point here is that they are not maintaining their own index massive, unlike Google. Just like with their third party sources of the information they deliver the same is with their product ads too, they are not theirs, which simply turns Proximic into an affiliate (middleman) company. Either way the company is vulnerable in case any of the third party information/ads providers leaves the game. 

Proximic is a privately funded company based in Munich, Germany and Palo Alto, California. Investors include Wellington Partners and the Holtzbrinck Group, the publisher of numerous publications including Scientific American. The company is said to have 14 employees.

Other players on the contextual arena include Amazon, LinkedWords, Turn, Tumri, Shopzilla, Vibrant Media and Kontera and BlogRovr, among others.

Amazon is also employing the same in-text contextual approach with their in-text linked words where once you mouse over them a JavaScript pop up message appears containing contextual web information and product ads from the huge data base of the shopping company.  

LinkedWords is yet another, already fairly popular, company known to deal with the contextual aspect of Web and is known to be the pioneer of the in-text linked words approach, been around even before Amazon adopted this interesting approach for spreading its products among third party web sites’ context. It runs a massive contextual platform built upon tens of millions of English words and phrases, which web publishers are using to get contextually linked to each other through their platform by using in-text linked words, as the company’s name implies itself. (Disclosure: we are using LinkedWords)

Other ad companies that are known to have tried the same are Turn and Tumri, among others.

More

http://www.proximic.com/
http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9850877-7.html?tag=nefd.blgs
http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9788569-7.html
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/01/10/can-google-lead-amid-its-ever-growing-infrastructure-and-computation-expenditures/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/15/proximic-signs-deals-with-yahoo-and-ebay-to-turn-product-listings-into-contextual-ads-taking-on-adsense/
http://venturebeat.com/2008/01/16/proximic-signs-contextual-ad-deals-with-yahoo-shoppingcom-aims-for-adsense/
http://blog.express-press-release.com/2007/10/02/proximic-takes-on-google-but-overlooks-sphere-linkedwords-kontera-vibranmedia-and-others/
http://www.calacanis.com/2007/12/21/ads-as-content-or-testing-google-and-shopzilla/
 

RockYou named one of the top innovations for 2007

RockYou is amongst the top 6 innovation leaps for 2007 according CNN. Below is what Michael V. Copeland from Fortune wrote about the company.

While the giants of social networking battle for the attention of Internet users, the guys behind RockYou are happy to sit in the middle. They make their money shipping the tiny apps known as widgets that add value to the Web sites–and generate ad revenue for RockYou. “MySpace and Facebook are like my two divorced parents,” says Shen, who launched the company with Tokuda in 2005. “And I am their child whose love they are trying to buy.”

No wonder. RockYou today is the hottest widget factory on the Web. More than 35 million people in 200 countries have used its little programs, which rack up 180 million page views per day. What do RockYou’s widgets do? The things people who populate MySpace and Facebook love to do, like post silly notes and videos on RockYou’s Super-Wall, quiz each other with RockYou’s Likeness’s trivia questions, or test their astrological waters via RockYou’s Horoscope. Look for the company’s widgets to start showing up in your e-mail, your instant messages, and, perhaps by 2009, your cellphone.

Interesting fact is that RockYou seems to be heavily relying on organic traffic despite its popularity. On its home page it is clearly visible a text link “Create SlideShow” which points to: http://www.rockyou.com/slideshow-create.php. When searched on Google that page appears #3 out of millions results returned. http://www.google.com/search?num=100&hl=en&q=Create+SlideShow.

Indeed the company looks very healthy to us. Quantcast reports for almost 7M global unique visitors while the Americans alone are slightly over 2M/mo. Compete is showing pretty much the same number of visitors – almost 6M per month, only American traffic.

The company founders are Lance Tokuda and Jia Shen and RockYou is based in San Mateo, Calif. Co-Founders Lance Tokuda and Jia Shen were sued by their former employer Iconix in 2006. Iconix claimed Tokuda and Shen were working on a slideshow application for them at the same time the pair created RockYou. A preliminary injunction favored Iconix before the intellectual property theft case was settled out of court.

The company is partnering with some of today’s webs top sites like Bebo, Friendster, Flixter, WordPress and Hi5, among others.

Slide.com is  the RockYou’s main competitor. However now RockYou!’s Super Wall app has overtaken Slide’s similar FunWall app for the #1 spot, with 3.1 million daily active users. RockYou! has recently put up a press release claiming there are more popular than Slide, with CEO Lance Tokuda calling it “a significant milestone for RockYou.”
RockYou has recently signed a deal with PlayFirst, who just got $16.5M in series C round of funding led by DCM that included original investors Mayfield Fund, Trinity Ventures and Rustic Canyon Partners. The new round brings total funding for PlayFirst to $26.5 million. Under the deal RockYou will distribute PlayFirst games through its widget and social networking service, with Wedding Dash the first title to be made available to Facebook users. PlayFirst sees the deal a way of tapping into the growing popularity of social networking sites as a gaming platform.

Most recently, the company has also launched its own Facebook-specific ad network.

More about RockYou

RockYou is a leading provider of applications and widgets on the web. RockYou widgets include photo slideshows, glitter text, customized Facebook applications and voicemail accessories that are simple to use and enable people to frequently refresh their online style. Founded in 2006, RockYou has over 35 million users, serving over 180 million widget views per day in more than 200 countries. RockYou applications are customized for easy integration across all social networks including Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Friendster, Tagged and hi5. RockYou’s cost-effective, results-focused advertising platform is the largest Ad Network on Facebook and the most dynamic method for rapidly acquiring Facebook application users. New applications can reach over 100k users in 24 hours, spanning a suite of applications across multiple publishing partners.

Widgets offered are as followed:

  • Slideshows (your photos with music, captions and a theme)
  • PhotoFX (stylize your photos)
  • Glitter FXtext (add glitter and more to your text)
  • FunNotes (choose a theme, caption and effects for your note)
  • Countdown Timer (countdown to important events)
  • Group Corkboard (you and your friends can add pictures, text and more to the corkboard)
  • MySpace Layouts (make your myspace page aesthetically pleasing)
  • ShoutOuts (record your voice and send it to a friend)
  • Scratcher (scratch your picture like a lottery ticket and see what’s hidden behind)
  • VoiceMail (allows your friends to leave voice comments on your page)
  • Games (make your profile or blog more fun by adding games to it)
  • Horoscope (get daily horoscopes and find out your compatibility with friends)
  • Movies (let your friends know what your favorite movies are)
  • Avatars (create an animated version of yourself to put on your profile)

RockYou was originally named RockMySpace. RockYou is funded by Sequoia Capital, Partech International and Lightspeed Venture Partners. The company took funding in two rounds where Series A was $1.50M and the VCs participating were First Round Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Sequoia Capital and the Series B round of funing was for $15.00M and participants were the same VCs plus Partech International. The total funding is $16.5M to date.

More about the Investors

Sequoia Capital
Sequoia Capital provides startup venture capital for very smart people who want to turn ideas into companies. As the “Entrepreneurs Behind the Entrepreneurs”, Sequoia Capital’s Partners have worked with innovators such as Steve Jobs of Apple Computer, Larry Ellison of Oracle, Bob Swanson of Linear Technology, Sandy Lerner and Len Bozack of Cisco Systems, Dan Warmenhoven of Network Appliance, Jerry Yang and David Filo of Yahoo!, Jen-Hsun Huang of nVIDIA, Michael Marks of Flextronics, Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen of YouTube, Steve Goldman and Sujal Patel of Isilon Systems and Dominic Orr and Keerti Melkote of Aruba Wireless Networks. To learn more about Sequoia Capital visit www.sequoiacap.com.

Lightspeed Venture Partners
Lightspeed Venture Partners combines extensive venture capital and operating experience to assist entrepreneurs in creating industry-leading technology companies. Lightspeed manages $1.3 billion of committed capital and focuses on seed and early-stage information technology investments in the U.S., Israel and Asia. The firm’s partners have invested in more than 100 technology companies over the past two decades and have contributed to the success of market leaders including Blue Nile, Brocade, Ciena, Galileo Technology, Informatica, Kiva Software, Metasolv, Phone.com, Quantum Effect Devices, Sirocco and Waveset. For more information, please visit our Website at www.lightspeedvp.com.

Partech International
Founded in 1982, Partech International is a leading global venture capital firm with $850M under management and offices in the U.S., Europe and Israel. Partech invests exclusively in Information Technology and the firm’s internationally integrated team of investing partners work together closely to find the most innovative companies demonstrating high return potential and disruptive technologies in the Software & Internet, Communications & Components and Healthcare IT sectors. Partech has a unique 20+ year track record assisting its portfolio companies to become global market leaders. To learn more go to www.partechvc.com.

We basically think RockYou is one of the top acquisition targets for 2008 as the price could be anything but in the “hundreds of millions” range.

More

http://www.rockyou.com/
http://www.rockyou.com/corp/about.php
http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2007/fortune/0712/gallery.sixleaps.fortune/4.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/03/05/more-information-on-rockyou-financing/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/RockYou
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/02/rockyou-app-slides-to-top-spot-on-facebook/
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/rockyou_vs_slide_facebook_app_developers.php
http://widgetygoodness.com/2007/12/03/rockyou-number-one-widget-maker/
http://venturebeat.com/2007/12/02/rockyou-climbing-past-slide-to-be-number-one-widget-maker/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/18/playfirst-takes-165-million-series-c-inks-deal-with-rockyou/
http://adage.com/article?article_id=121326&search_phrase=rockyou
http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/technology/2007-11-26-widgets_N.htm
http://internetcommunications.tmcnet.com/topics/enterprise/articles/14503-zazzle-rockyou-offer-custom-glittertext-products.htm
http://www.cio.co.uk/concern/infrastructurerefresh/features/index.cfm?articleid=551
http://mashable.com/2007/11/13/zazzle-rockyou/
http://xml.sys-con.com/read/456371.htm
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/02/AR2007110201894.html?hpid=moreheadlines
http://www.forbes.com/business/2007/11/01/facebook-rockyou-google-technology-cz_vb_1102rockyou.html
http://www.webware.com/8301-1_109-9805410-2.html
http://www.latimes.com/technology/la-fi-google31oct31,1,5536114.story?coll=la-headlines-technology&ctrack=1&cset=true
http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_7110470
http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB119370202753875653.html
http://www.quantcast.com/rockyou.com
http://siteanalytics.compete.com/rockyou.com/?metric=uv
http://uk.intruders.tv/Jia-Shen-of-RockYou_a231.html

Some of the web’s biggest acquisition deals during 2007

As the end of the year approaches us we would like to briefly sum up some of the web’s biggest acquisition deals for the 2007, as we know them. 

All deals will logically be ranked by their sizes and less weight will be put on the time the deal happened through out the year. Deals from all IT industry sectors are considered and put in the list, from Web and Internet to the Mobile industry as well. The size’s criterion for a deal to make the list is to be arguably no less than $100M unless the deal is symbolic in one way or another or either of the companies involved was popular enough at the time the deal took place. Otherwise we think all deals are important, at least for its founders and investors.

Under no doubt the year we will remember with the number of high-profile advertising company acquisitions for large-scale companies like DoubleClick, aQuantive, RightMedia, 24/7 Real Media, among others. Putting all acquisition deals aside, one particular funding deal deserves to be mentioned too Facebook raised $240 million from Microsoft in return of just 1.6% of its equity. The Honk Kong Billionaire Li Ka-shing later joined the club of high-caliber investors in Facebook by putting down $60M for unknown equity position.  

Other remarkable funding deals include: Alibaba.com raised $1.3 Billion from its IPO; Kayak raised $196 Million; Demand Media took $100 Million in Series C; Zillow totaled $87 Million in venture capital funding; Joost announced $45 million funding from Sequoia, Index, CBS & Viacom, among others. 

Yet another noteworthy deal is the Automattic (wordpress.org) turning down a $200 Million Acquisition Offer. 

And the 2007 Web 2.0 Money winner is… Navteq for its deal with Nokia for $8B. Apparently Microsoft has this year lost the crown of being named the deepest pocket buyer.

Nokia Buys Navteq For $8 Billion, Bets Big On Location-Based Services

Nokia (NOK), the Finnish mobile phone giant with nearly a third of the global handset market, has decided to bet big on location based services (LBS), and is buying Chicago-based digital map company NAVTEQ (NVT) for $8.1 billion. That works out to about $78 a share. This is one of Nokia’s largest purchases to date — the Finnish mobile giant has a mixed track record when it comes to acquisitions. This is also the second megabillion dollar buyout in the maps (LBS) space.

SAP Germany makes its biggest deal ever – acquires Business Objects for 4.8B EURO (around ~$6.8 billion)

SAP, the world’s largest maker of business software, has agreed to acquire Business Objects SA for €4.8 billion euros, which was around ~$6.8 billion at the time the acquisition deal was announced. The deal is amongst the largest for 2007 alongside with Oracle’s Hyperion deal for over $3.3B and the Nokia’s Navteq for over $8B. [more]

Microsoft to buy Web ad firm aQuantive for $6 Billion

Microsoft Corp. acquired aQuantive Inc. for about $6 billion, or $66.50 a share, an 85 percent premium to the online advertising company’s closing price at the time the deal was publicly announced. Shares of aQuantive shot to $63.95 in pre-opening trade, following news of the deal. The all-cash deal tops a dramatic consolidation spree across the online advertising market sparked when Google Inc. agreed to buy DoubleClick for $3.1 billion.

Oracle to buy Hyperion in $3.3 Billion cash deal

Oracle Corp. has acquired business intelligence software vendor Hyperion Solutions Corp. for $3.3 billion in cash. Oracle has agreed to pay $52 per share for Hyperion, or about $3.3 billion, a premium of 21% over Hyperion’s closing share price at the time of the deal. Oracle said it will combine Hyperion’s software with its own business intelligence (BI) and analytics tools to offer customers a broad range of performance management capabilities, including planning, budgeting and operational analytics.

Cisco Buys WebEx for $3.2 Billion

Cisco has agreed to acquire WebEx for $3.2 billion in cash. In 2006, WebEx generated nearly $50 million in profit on $380 million in revenue. They have $300 million or so in cash on hand, so the net deal value is $2.9 billion.

DoubleClick Acquired by Google For $3.1 Billion In Cash

Google reached an agreement to acquire DoubleClick, the online advertising company, from two private equity firms for $3.1 billion in cash, the companies announced, an amount that was almost double the $1.65 billion in stock that Google paid for YouTube late last year. In the last month for this year the US Federal Trade Commission has granted its approval for Google to purchase DoubleClick.

TomTom Bought Tele Atlas for $2.5 Billion

It took $2.5 Billion dollars for TomTom to buy mapping software company TeleAtlas, this will set the stage for TomTom to be big rival of Garmin across Atlantic. Tele Atlas went public in 2000 on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, and last year, it bought another mapping firm, New Hampshire-based GDT.

Naspers acquires yet another European company – Tradus for roughly $1.8 Billion

Simply put a fallen dot com star with eBay ambitious, once worth more than 2B British pound (around $4B) and collapsed down to £62M at the end of 2000 is now being basically said rescued by the South African media company Naspers that is spending money at breakneck pace. The offered price is £946M (more than $1.8B) based on just £60M annual revenues. [more]

HP acquired Opsware For $1.6 Billion

HP has acquired IT Automation company Opsware for $1.6 billion. Whilst any acquisition of this size is interesting in itself, the back story to Opsware is even more so; Opsware was originally LoudCloud, a Web 1.0 company that took $350 million in funding during the Web 1.0 boom.

AOL acquired TradeDoubler for $900 Million

AOL has acquired Sweden-based TradeDoubler, a performance marketing company, for €695 million in cash, which was about US$900 million at the time the deal took place.

Microsoft acquired Tellme Networks for reportedly $800 Million

Microsoft Corp. has announced it will acquire Tellme Networks, Inc., a leading provider of voice services for everyday life, including nationwide directory assistance, enterprise customer service and voice-enabled mobile search. Although the price remains undisclosed, it is estimated to be upwards of $800 million.

Disney acquires Club Penguin for up to $700 Million

Club Penguin, a social network/virtual world that has been on the market for some time, was acquired by The Walt Disney Company. An earlier deal with Sony fell apart over the Club Penguin’s policy of donating a substantial portion of profits to charity. The company, which launched in October 2005, has 700,000 current paid subscribers and 12 million activated users, primarily in the U.S. and Canada.The WSJ says the purchase price is $350 million in cash. Disney could pay up to another $350 million if certain performance targets are reached over the next couple of years, until 2009.

Yahoo acquired RightMedia for $680 Million in cash and stock

Yahoo has acquired the 80% of advertising network RightMedia that it doesn’t already own for $680 million in cash and Yahoo stock. Yahoo previously bought 20% of the company in a $45 million Series B round of funding announced in October 2006. The company has raised over $50 million to date.

WPP Acquires 24/7 Real Media for $649 Million

Online advertising services firm 24/7 Real Media was acquired by the WPP group for $649 million. The old time internet advertising firm had its origins serving ads for Yahoo! and Netscape in 1994 and was formerly founded the following year as Real Media. After numerous acquisitions it took its current name and grew to have 20 offices in 12 countries, serving over 200 billion advertising impressions every month.

Google bought the web security company Postini for $625M

Google has acquired e-mail security company Postini for $625 million, a move intended to attract more large businesses to Google Apps. More than 1,000 small businesses and universities currently use Google Apps, but ‘there has been a significant amount of interest from large businesses,’ Dave Girouard, vice president and general manager of Google Enterprise, said in a Monday teleconference.

EchoStar Acquires Sling Media for $380 Million

EchoStar Communications Corporation, the parent company for DISH Network, has announced its agreement to acquire Sling Media, creator of the Sling suite, which lets you do things like control your television shows at any time, from their computers or mobile phones, or record and watch TV on your PC or Windows-based mobile phone. The acquisition is for $380 million.

ValueClick acquired comparison shopping operator MeziMedia for up to $352 Million

ValueClick has acquired MeziMedia for up to $352 million, in a deal consisting of $100 million in upfront in cash, with an additional sum of up to $252 million to be paid depending on MeziMedia’s revenue and earnings performance through to 2009.

Yahoo Acquires Zimbra For $350 Million in Cash

Yahoo has acquired the open source online/offline office suite Zimbra. The price: $350 million, in cash, confirmed. Zimbra gained wide exposure at the 2005 Web 2.0 Conference. Recently they has also launched an offline functionality.

Business.com Sells for $350 Million

Business.com has closed another chapter in its long journey from a $7.5 million domain name bought on a hope and a prayer, selling to RH Donnelley for $350 million (WSJ reporting up to $360 million). RH Donnelley beat out Dow Jones and the New York Times during the bidding.

AOL acquired online advertising company Quigo for $350 Million

AOL announced plans to buy Quigo and its services for matching ads to the content of Web pages. The acquisition follows AOL’s September purchase of Tacoda, a leader in behavioral-targeting technology, and comes as AOL tries to boost its online advertising revenue to offset declines in Internet access subscriptions.

eBay bought StubHub For $310 Million

eBay has acquired the San Francisco-based StubHub for $285 million plus the cash on StubHub’s books, which is about $25 million.

Yahoo! Agreed to acquire BlueLithium for approximately $300 Million in cash

Yahoo! Inc. has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire BlueLithium, one of the largest and fastest growing online global ad networks that offers an array of direct response products and capabilities for advertisers and publishers. Under the terms of the agreement, Yahoo! will acquire BlueLithium for approximately $300 million in cash.

CBS to buy social network Last.fm for $280 Million

CBS is known to have paid $280 million for the Last.fm site, which caters to music fans. CBS Corp bought the popular social networking website organized around musical tastes for $280 million, combining a traditional broadcast giant with an early leader in online radio. Last.fm, claims more than 15 million monthly users, including more than 4 million in the U.S.

AOL Acquired Tacoda, a behavior targeting advertising company for reportedly $275 Million

AOL has announced the acquisition of New York-based Tacoda earlier this year, a behavior targeting advertising company that was founded in 2001. The deal size, which we haven’t had confirmed, is likely far smaller than Microsoft’s $6 billion for aQuantive , Yahoo’s $680 million for RightMedia , or Google’s $3.1 billion for DoubleClick. The price might be low enough that it isn’t being disclosed at all.Jack Myers Media Business Report has confirmed the $275 million price tag

MySpace to acquire Photobucket For $250 Million

MySpace has acquired Photobucket for $250 million in cash. There is also an earn-out for up to an additional $50 million. Oddly enough MySapce has dropped Photobucket off its social networking platform. The dispute that led to the Photobucket videos being blocked on MySpace letter also led to acquisition discussions, and the block was removed. They have hired Lehman Brothers to help sell the company. They were looking for $300 million or more, but may have had few bidders other than MySpace.

Hitwise Acquired by Experian for $240M

Hitwise, the company that performs analysis of log files from 25 million worldwide ISP accounts to provide relative market share graphs for web properties, has been acquired by Experian for $240 million.

$200+ Million for Fandango

Comcast paid $200 million or perhaps a bit more. Fandango revenue is said to be in the $50m/year range, split roughly evenly between ticket sales and advertising. Wachovia Securities analyst Jeff Wlodarczak estimated the multiple-system operator paid $200 million for Fandango, whose backers include seven of the 10 largest U.S. movie exhibitors.

Intuit Acquires Homestead for $170 Million

Small business website creation service Homestead, started out in the web 1.0 era, announced tonight that it has been acquired by Intuit for $170m. In addition to Intuit’s personal and small business accounting software, and the company’s partnership with Google to integrate services like Maps listing and AdSense buys, Intuit customers will now presumably be able to put up websites quickly and easily with Homestead. [more]

Naspers Acquired Polish based IM Company Gadu Gadu (chit-chat) for reportedly $155 Million

South Africa’s biggest media group Naspers Ltd offered to buy all outstanding shares in Polish Internet firm Gadu Gadu S.A. ( GADU.WA ), a Polish IM service, for 23.50 zlotys ($8.77) per share. The current majority shareholder of Gadu Gadu has agreed to tender its 55% shareholding in the public tender offer. The price is $155M. [more

Studivz, a Germany Facebook clone, went for $132 Million

German Facebook clone Studivz has been sold to one of its investors, Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH, a German publishing group, for €100 million (about $132 million). Other investors of Studivz include the Samwer brothers, founders of ringtone company Jamba (sold for €270M) and Alando (sold to eBay for €43M in 1999).

Feedburner goes to Google for $100 Million

Feedburner was acquired by Google for around $100 million. The deal is all cash and mostly upfront, according to sources, although the founders will be locked in for a couple of years.

Answers.com has purchased Dictionary.com for reportedly $100 Million

Question and answer reference site Answers.com has acquired Dictionary.com’s parent company, Lexico Publishing, for $100 million in cash. Lexico can really serve all your lexical needs because it also owns Thesaurus.com and Reference.com.

Yahoo Acquires Rivals for $100 Million

Yahoo has acquired college sports site Rivals.com, reported the Associated Press in a story earlier this year. The price is not being disclosed, although the rumor is that the deal was closed for around $100 million. Rumors of talks first surfaced in April 2007.

UGO Acquired By Hearst for reportedly $100 Million

Hearst has acquired New-York based UGO. Forbes reported the price should be around $100 million. UGO is a popular new media site that was founded in 1997 and, according to Forbes, is generating around $30 million/year in revenue. UGO media is yet another web 1.0 veteran and survivor.

Fotolog Acquired by Hi Media, French Ad Network for $90 Million
 
New York-based Fotolog been acquired by Hi Media, a Paris-based interactive media company for roughly $90 million – a combination of cash and stock, according to well-placed sources. 

Online Backup Startup Mozy Acquired By EMC For $76 Million

Online storage startup Mozy, headquartered in Utah, has been acquired by EMC Corporation, a public storage company with a nearly $40 billion market cap. EMC paid $76 million for the company, according to two sources close to the deal.

eBay Acquiring StumbleUpon for $75 Million

The startup StumbleUpon has been rumored to be in acquisition discussions since at least last November (2006). The small company had reportedly talks with Google, AOL and eBay as potential suitors. At the end of the day the start-up got acquired by eBay. The price was $75 million, which is symbolic with the fact the site had only 1.5m unique visitors per month at the time the deal took place. The company was rumored to be cash-positive.

General Atlantic Has Acquired Domain Name Pioneer Network Solutions

General Atlantic has acquired Network Solutions from Najafi Companies. Network Solutions was founded decades ago in 1973 and had a monopoly on domain name registration for years which led Verisign to pay billions to buy it. Najafi Companies purchased NS from VeriSign in November 2003 for just $100M. No financial terms were disclosed for the deal and no price tag is publicly available, although we believe it is way over $100M, but NS made our list due to its mythical role for the Internet’s development. That deal is symbolic for the Internet. 

MSNBC made its first acquisition in its 11-year history, acquired Newsvine

In a recent deal the citizen journalism startup Newsvine has been acquired by MSNBC, the Microsoft/NBC joint venture, for an undisclosed sum. Newsvine will continue operating independently, just as it has been since launching in March of 2006. The acquired company also indicated there would be little change in the features of the site.  We think the price tag for the Newsvine is anywhere in the $50/$75M range, but this is not confirmed. [more]

Google to buy Adscape for $23 Million

After some rumors of a deal earlier this year, Google has expanded its advertising reach by moving into video game advertising with their $23 million acquisition of Adscape.

Disney buys Chinese mobile content provider Enorbus for around $20 Million

Disney has bought Chinese mobile gaming company Enorbus , for around $20 million, MocoNews.net has learned. Financial backers in the company included Carlyle and Qualcomm Ventures.

BBC Worldwide Acquires Lonely Planet

BBC Worldwide, the international arm of BBC, has acquired Lonely Planet, the Australia-based travel information group. The amount of the deal was not disclosed, but Lonely Planet founders Tony and Maureen Wheeler get to keep a 25% share in the company. We truly believe this deal is in the $100M range, but since no confirmation was found on Web and therefore we cannot put a price tag for the sake of the list. Even though a global brand their site is getting just 4M unique visitors per month.

AOL Acquires ADTECH AG

AOL has acquired a controlling interest in ADTECH AG, a leading international online ad-serving company based in Frankfurt, Germany. The acquisition provides AOL with an advanced ad-serving platform that includes an array of ad management and delivery applications enabling website publishers to manage traffic and report on their online advertising campaigns. No details about the acquisition price were found on Web but we would suspect a large-scale deal and rank it very high. 

Amazon Acquires dpreview.com

Amazon have announced the acquisition of the digital camera information and review site dpreview.com. UK based dpreview.com was founded in 1998 by Phil Askey as a site that publishes “unbiased reviews and original content regarding the latest in digital cameras. Dpreview.com has in excess of 7 million unique viewers monthly. The value of the deal was not disclosed but we believe the purchase price should be in the $100M range (not confirmed).

HP Acquired Tabblo

HP announced the acquisition of Cambridge, Massachusetts based Photo printing site Tabblo this morning. The price was not disclosed.

eBay Gets Stake in Turkish Auction Market

eBay announced yesterday that it has acquired a minority stake in Turkish-based GittiGidiyor.com, an online marketplace structured in a similar manner to eBay. GittiGidiyor reportedly has more than 400,000 listings and 17 million users, which is a considerable percentage of the Turkish population. With the stake in GittiGidiyor, eBay now has the opportunity to enter the Turkish market via a system that’s already similar to theirs in functionality and purpose. Istanbul-based GittiGidiyor.com was founded in 2000. GittiGidiyor is Turkish for Going, Going, Gone. Terms of the deals were not found publicly available. Looking at the size of the Turkish site and the buying habits and history of eBay, the price should be considerably high, at least for the region.

Microsoft Acquiring ScreenTonic for Mobile Ad Platform

Microsoft is acquiring ScreenTonic, a local-based ads delivery platform for mobile devices, for an undisclosed amount. Paris-based ScreenTonic was founded in 2001, and has created the Stamp platform to deliver text or banner links on portals, text message ads and mobile web page ads, that vary depending on the recipients’ geographical location in a so called geo-targeting approach. 

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