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/
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/02/is-google-going-to-be-the-winner-from-the-microsoft-yahoo-deal/
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/04/google%e2%80%99s-chief-legal-officer-vs-microsoft%e2%80%99s-general-counsel/
https://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
https://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


 

BlackArrow took $12 Million to tackle the video advertising, relies on cable companies

A couple of months ago BlackArrow has taken a big round of money – $12 million in Series B funding.

The company offers an advertising management platform for video, allowing web sites to monitor their inventory while enabling advertisers to insert ads on-the-fly. BlackArrow’s money for its Series B funding came from Comcast Interactive Capital, Cisco Systems, Intel Capital, Mayfield Fund, and Polaris Venture Partners.

The company wants to insert targeted ads into on-demand viewing by placing a piece of hardware between cable operators and consumers. Prior to the user watching an on-demand show, BlackArrow helps deliver a brief ad, tailored to the theme of the show and the user’s apparent preferences. For example, a teenage boy might be delivered an ad for an upcoming game like Halo 3.

While DVRs like the TiVo will still allow users to fast forward past advertising, BlackArrow will open up the field for cable companies to profit from acting as remote ad servers. BlackArrow will count on the cable companies to offer their own DVR technology. The advantage for the consumer is that one does not have to worry about buying or installing a DVR. A majority of viewers still haven’t anyway.

The company is known to have spent more than a year in stealth mode developing its product, and online sources originally suggested that the original aim of the company was to destroy the ad-skipping capabilities of the TiVo. It later turned out it is no longer the case, if it ever was.

The previous round is known to be $5 million, which has been taken back in 2006 and was led by Mayfield Fund. The company’s total funding should already be $17M. The company has offices in both locations San Mateo, CA and New York.

More about BlackArrow

We are independent advertising-technology company that provides multiplatform ad-management for viewer-controlled video.

We’ve seen the future, and the future is now for on-demand video programming with dynamic, personalized advertising. In the world of viewer-controlled video, where the consumer controls the play, pause, fast-forward and rewind buttons, BlackArrow provides the answer for a dynamic video ad-management that supports broadband, video-on-demand (VOD) and DVR playout.

One with the ability to reach the right audience with a laser-focused message — across any on-demand platform. And rapid-fire reporting to provide powerful “apples-to-apples” analytics across playout environments, helping you evaluate and optimize brand campaigns in entirely new ways.

BlackArrow is your partner on the path to multiplatform monetization. With the new world order of on-demand video comes a corresponding set of new advertising and revenue opportunities.

Management team

Dean Denhart: president and chief executive officer

Dean Denhart has extensive technology leadership expertise in telecom, media and technology-related industries across large, medium and start-up companies. Denhart has been directly involved in the acquisition and operation integration of over 18 technology companies with expertise in off-shore, joint ventures and partnerships. As president and CEO of BlackArrow, Denhart is responsible for all business operations, technology development, financial management, business development and governance of BlackArrow. Previously, Denhart oversaw the strategic development of product and technology at Knight Ridder Digital. Denhart was also CIO and executive vice president of product and technology for HomeStore, an online real estate marketing company. Prior, he served as vice president of AirTouch Communications’ software systems group, held a vice president of network systems role during a 17-year tenure with SBC Communications/Pacific Bell, was CIO of Telecel (a wireless company) in Portugal and was an integral research and development executive at Bell Communications Research.

Other management team members are as follows.

  • Sharon Mandell: senior vice president and chief technology officer
  • Tracy Martin: chief financial officer
  • Chris Hock: senior vice president, product management
  • Patrick Carter: vice president, operations
  • Courtenay Harry: vice president, advertising business development
  • Bill Niemeyer: chief of analysis and research
  • Kelly Ryan: vice president, content business development
  • David Stengle: vice president, distribution
  • Thérèse Bruno: senior director, marketing

The Investors

Cisco Systems, Inc.
Cisco Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is the worldwide leader in networking for the Internet. Today, networks are an essential part of business, education, government and home communications, and Cisco Internet Protocol-based (IP) networking solutions are the foundation of these networks. Cisco hardware, software, and service offerings are used to create Internet solutions that allow individuals, companies, and countries to increase productivity, improve customer satisfaction and strengthen competitive advantage. The Cisco name has become synonymous with the Internet, as well as with the productivity improvements that Internet business solutions provide.

Comcast Interactive Capital
Comcast Interactive Capital (CIC) is a venture capital fund focused on broadband, enterprise and interactive technologies. CIC is affiliated with Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA), a diversified global leader in cable, broadband services, telecommunications and entertainment. CIC’s primary goal is to generate superior financial returns from private equity investments in early-stage technology companies. To achieve this goal, CIC works to foster the success of its portfolio companies by bringing to bear the unique resources, experience, and insight of both CIC and the Comcast family of companies.

Intel Capital
Intel Capital (Nasdaq: INTC), Intel’s global investment organization, makes equity investments in innovative technology start-ups and companies worldwide. Intel Capital invests in a broad range of companies offering hardware, software and services targeting enterprise, home, mobility, health, consumer Internet and semiconductor manufacturing. Since 1991, Intel Capital has invested more than US$6 billion in approximately 1,000 companies in more than 40 countries. In that timeframe, about 157 portfolio companies have gone public on various exchanges around the world and another 187 have been acquired by other companies. In 2006, Intel Capital invested about US$1.07 billion in 163 deals with approximately 60 percent of funds (excluding Clearwire) invested outside the United States.

About Mayfield Fund
Mayfield Fund provides “venture capital with impact” by partnering with exceptional individuals to create industry-leading companies. Mayfield has domain expertise in communications/wireless, consumer/media, enterprise software and semiconductors. The firm has over $2.7 billion under management and a team of eleven investing professionals. Since Mayfield’s founding in 1969, the firm has invested in more than 470 high-growth companies, taken more than 100 public and more than 150 have merged or were acquired.

Polaris Venture Partners
A national venture capital firm with over $3 billion under management, Polaris invests in seed, early stage and growth equity businesses in the technology, life science, digital media, enertech and consumer sectors. Through a philosophy of lead investing and active, long-term partnering with entrepreneurs and management teams, Polaris has helped a number of companies achieve outstanding success. Among them are: Accordant Health Services, Acusphere, Advanced Inhalation Research (AIR), Akamai Technologies, Allaire Corporation, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, American Superconductor, Archivas, Aspect Medical Systems, Avici Systems, Centra Software, Classifieds2000, Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Cushcraft Corporation, deCODE genetics, Exchange.com, GlycoFi, Matrics, Momenta Pharmaceuticals, Paradigm Genetics, Powersoft, Solidworks, and TransForm Pharmaceuticals.

The Competition

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, post-roll 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 BrightRoll, XillianTV, YuMe, Podaddies, VMIX and MeeVee. BrightRoll video ad network itself has raises $5 Million while YuMe raised $9 Million for yet another video ad network. VMIX, yet another video network company has also raised a whopping amount of money $16.5M to expand its business.

More

http://www.blackarrow.tv/
http://mashable.com/2007/10/15/blackarrow-funding/
http://venturebeat.com/2007/10/14/blackarrow-ad-management-for-modern-tv-unstealths-with-12m-financing/
http://adsense.blogspot.com/2006/05/introducing-video-ads.html
http://adwords.blogspot.com/2006/05/click-to-play-video-ads-for-adwords.html
http://adsense.blogspot.com/2007/05/adsense-coming-to-video-near-you.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/22/technology/22google.html
http://mashable.com/2007/08/21/youtube-reinvents-video-ads/
http://mashable.com/2007/05/11/youtube-ads-2/
http://www.forbes.com/2007/02/22/video-ads-youtube-tech-media-cx_lh_0223video.html
http://venturebeat.com/2006/11/08/skipping-the-ads-black-arrow-raises-1475m-to-defy-you/
http://www.cisco.com
http://www.civentures.com
http://www.intelcapital.com
http://www.polarisventures.com

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

An acquisition within the 3-D modeling space

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

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

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

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

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

The company is based in Mountain View, CA.

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

Interesting videos for trueSpace can be seen on YouTube.

More about Caligari Corporation

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

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

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

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

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

The Founder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More

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

It seems eXpresso is having more competition than we thought

A couple of days ago when we wrote about a tiny start-up that raised venture capital for an online collaboration tool built around Microsoft Excel we did not fully realize how crowded the market is. Today Mashable has put up a very nice and comprehensive list of all things spreadsheet – or in other words 14 online spreadsheet applications, eXpresso among them. Nice thumbnails are taken on any of the sites below and can be seen on Mashable

BadBlue.com – Features free personal accounts or paid enterprise class services for sharing Excel spreadsheets over the web.

Blist.com – Still in private beta, and here is the Mashable’s detailed write-up on what you can expect from this new spreadsheet app.

EditGrid.com – You can upload your existing spreadsheets, start new ones, and share & collaborate with friends and colleague.

Google Docs – No list of online spreadsheet apps would be complete without the ubiquitous mention of Google Docs. It feels, and looks, a lot like Microsoft Excel and is easily shareable with others.

InputWebWizard.com – Works your spreadsheets with a database so all of your data is stored in a SQL database. System is set to help you develop web apps, but still seems a bit pricey at $499 a month.

JotSpot – Import and Export with Excel, copy-and-paste from Excel, share the documents, even use hyperlinks and attach files.

Numbler.com – A plain, straightforward, collaborative spreadsheet application.

NumSum.com – A more social spreadsheet app where you can leave your work totally open if you choose and allow others to comment on it.

Peepel.com – Import your Excel spreadsheets, work with multiple documents in the same browser window, get an RSS feed of the latest changes to collaborative documents and more.

Sheetster.com – Has the normal online spreadsheet features such as collaboration, but also offers blog embedding options.

Simple Spreadsheet – An open source project that is part of the Simple Groupware Solutions project. Free to use and 100% web based.

ThinkFreeDocs.com – For now, you can not edit uploaded spreadsheets via the site, but they are working on it. Upload what you have and share it.

Zoho Sheet – Part of the Zoho suite of online office applications, Sheet will allow you to import and export with Excel, collaborate with others, and even do quick “throwaway” sheets if you just need to scratch something out.
 

Sequoia Capital invested in TokBox, hoping for Web’s next big communication tool

Sequoia Capital has recently provided $4 million in Series A round of funding to Tokbox – a new startup providing real-time video chat via a browser. Sequoia joins an already impressive collection of angel investors including founding members of YouTube, Bebo, and Netscape along with execs from Slide, PayPal and Cisco. This investor network alone will likely propel the startup to partnerships and acquisition discussions.

The same backers who helped catapult YouTube to glory wants to do for live video chats what YouTube did for video watching.

The company, TokBox, allows people with Webcams and broadband Internet connections to conduct face-to-face chats inside a Web browser. Users can visit its site, www.tokbox.com, or add a TokBox module to their pages on social Web sites like MySpace or Facebook.

Several other services, including AOL’s AIM, Yahoo Messenger and Skype, allow live video chats but require that each party download the software and be online at the same time. On TokBox, if one party is not present, users can send a video mail message of up to five minutes in length that the other party can later retrieve at the site.

“Video communication has never really taken off, despite the fact that people talk about it as a part of the future,” said Serge Faguet, TokBox chief executive, who is a 21-year-old native of Russia and co-founded the company after attending one semester of Stanford business school.

The six-month-old (by that time – Oct ’07) TokBox would probably be just another dot-com with ambitious dreams were it not for an impressive pedigree that includes many of the same names as YouTube. Jawed Karim, a YouTube co-founder who left the video sharing site early on, is backing the company financially and sits on its board.

Roelof Botha, the Sequoia partner who invested in YouTube, is also guiding TokBox and, not surprisingly, plays up the similarities. “Part of the beauty of YouTube is that we all have browsers and we are all on the Internet, so you can click on a link and video will start to play,” he said. “TokBox offers the same easy solution inside the browser.”

Under no doubt some of the people engaged with the company do know one or more things about the online video market, but it is also pretty clear that if TookBox takes off and gets to be popular it is going to face scale up challenges.

As YouTube’s popularity skyrocketed, it had to keep up with the bulging cost of storing and playing all those videos. TokBox will have to do that as well, and will also have to ensure that live video chats flow seamlessly.

However TokBox has attracted high-profile talented technical advisers to help it overcome those obstacles. Rajeev Motwani, a Stanford professor and an early adviser to Google, is an investor and is counseling the company. Tony Bates, a senior vice president at Cisco, is also an investor and is helping TokBox to develop the underlying technology to support a large number of users.

The company has also a Facebook application that was developed by Ryan Merket and allows you to video chat with your friends or leave video mail and voice mail for your friends directly from your own Facebook profile.

Investors include: Sequoia Capital, Rajeev Motwani, Roelof Botha, Tony Bates and Jawed Karim, presumingly some of the individuals are angel investors.

The company is based in Palo Alto and what is interesting as fact is the company is housed in the same offices that was used by YouTube to start off.

Competitors include Skype, WebEx, Zorap and Userplane, among others. 

Of course, the company did not yet figure out what to make money from but this is not uncommon for most of the start ups in the Silicon Valley. The founders say they are looking at advertising and selling advanced versions of the service to companies that can use it to communicate with their customers online.

More

http://www.tokbox.com/
http://blog.tokbox.com/
http://www.sequoiacap.com/
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/15/business/media/15video.html?ei=5088&en=59b45c9e60a88aee&ex=1350100800&adxnnl=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&adxnnlx=1192446339-6J23Kqqnew4p1VFrtrkAJg
http://gigaom.com/2007/10/15/tokbox/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/tokbox
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/08/14/use-tokbox-to-set-up-instant-video-chat/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/14/tokbox-gets-some-nytimes-love/
http://www.crunchgear.com/2007/10/15/tokbox-live-video-web-chat-is-the-latest-next-youtube/
http://mashable.com/2007/10/15/tokbox-funding/
http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2007/10/15/tokbox-receives-4-million-in-funding
http://ukwebfocus.wordpress.com/2007/09/19/tokbox-a-useful-video-conferencing-tool-or-something-sinister/
http://lifehacker.com/software/video-conferencing/in+browser-video-chat-with-tokbox-310734.php
 

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/
 

An online collaboration tool built around Microsoft Excel took $2M, plans for $2M more

eXpresso, an online collaboration tool around Excel spreadsheets, has raised $2M round of financing from Novus and Rocket Ventures. This is on top of another couple of millions they’ve made off the sale of their original product, Smart DB, to Rocket Software (no relation to the VC firm). The money will be put towards expanding their current Excel product and building an online Powerpoint application due out next summer as well. The company has also announced they have plans to raise $2M more at the near future.

Expresso Corp is bringing new capabilities to Microsoft Excel. Using their software users can manage, compare and collaborate on Excel documents – features that Microsoft surprisingly hasn’t added on their own.

eXpresso is built upon AJAX functionality and combines a series of collaboration tools and back-end database wrapped around Microsoft’s own online spreadsheet editor, Microsoft Excel Web Component. The company seems oddly positioned by leaning heavily on Microsoft’s technology, but CEO George Langan points out that they can continue to develop the component without Microsoft’s support, or disturbance, and have a great deal of patented intellectual properties in the database system they run on. On the other side Microsoft has abandoned the technology themselves, announcing an end to development of the Office Web Components. Instead, they are focusing on developing new technologies around Microsoft Sharepoint. So, will Microsoft consider buying them or will just copy/cat their features and functionalities or is Microsoft heading towards different direction and will leave eXpresso behind? Let’s put it that way it has never been good to have your business model built upon and relying on third party company’s technology, service or solution.

However, the spreadsheet editor works smoothly, provides a familiar interface, and brings most of the Excel’s desktop functionality online. You can edit cells, add formulas, sort, filter, and format. Google and Zoho have been aggressively adding a lot of these features themselves, but support auto-fill and charts as well. eXpresso also offers more applications. You can create a new file from within the program or sync one directly from Excel using their plug-in. eXpresso also offers file permissions (down to cell ranges), enables real time chat, and file management (version control, spreadsheet comparison). It’s currently free in beta, but will cost $10 or less per user when it’s finally released.

More about eXpresso

eXpresso is led by an experienced team with decades of collective experience in data management, and enterprise software applications. eXpresso’s team comprises Founders and Corporate Executives who have successfully developed and delivered award-winning business solutions for Fortune 500 companies.

About eXpresso Spreadsheet Communities
Microsoft’s Excel spreadsheet application is one of the most popular on the planet. Millions of people use Excel on a weekly – or even daily – basis for simple personal tasks as well as for enterprise-critical functions such as managing supply chains, reporting corporate finance, or complying with regulatory requirements. eXpresso is a hosted workspace for real-time Excel collaboration in secure, structured communities. eXpresso brings sophisticated spreadsheet version management, comparison and collaboration capabilities to the world’s standard data interchange solution.

What can you do with eXpresso Spreadsheet Communities?

  • Upload, securely store and organize your Excel spreadsheets online
  • Authorize colleagues to view or edit your spreadsheets anytime from anywhere
  • Have a virtual meeting where invitees simultaneously view or edit Excel
  • Take advantage of powerful eXpresso features like group chat, email, alerts, and audit trails
  • Visually compare two or more spreadsheets for cell or formula changes.

eXpresso does compete with other services such as Google Spreadsheets, Zoho Sheet and XCellery. Investors include Individuals Venture Fund, Novus Ventures and Rocket Ventures. As we learned Xcellery has joined eXpresso and here is what the press releases said: “As a startup, Xcellery was committed to finding a better way for people to share and use Excel spreadsheets online. eXpresso has taken that idea to a new level of power and convenience, which is why we can wholeheartedly recommend that Xcellery users adopt eXpresso.”

eXpresso has won a number of industry awards and recognitions. 

eXpresso was honored with InfoWorld’s 2008 Technology of the Year Award: “These Technology of the Year award winners represent the best business process management system, best enterprise service bus, best database middleware, and the best SaaS collaboration and community platforms we tested in 2007.” eXpresso was also among The 2008 PC World 25 Most Innovative Products.
More

http://www.expressocorp.com/
http://blog.expressocorp.com/
http://www.expressocorp.com/download/eXpresso_Second_Round_Funding.pdf
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/expresso_web_office.php
http://www.infoworld.com/slideshow/2008/01/144-2008_technology-5.html
http://blogs.msdn.com/excel/archive/2006/07/17/668544.aspx
http://blog.expressocorp.com/2008/01/28/expresso-and-microsoft-office-web-components/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/12/expresso-gets-2-million-to-grow-an-online-office-suite/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/expresso
http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,140663-c,technology/article.html
http://www.paloaltodailynews.com/article/2008-1-7-expresso
http://www.sltrib.com/technology/ci_7907885
http://blogs.computerworld.com/share_excel_files_saas_style
http://www.expressocorp.com/download/XcelleryPressRelease.pdf

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/