free html hit counter Goodness. AT&T In The Search Biz - John Battelle's Search Blog

Goodness. AT&T In The Search Biz

By - March 12, 2007

How? By buying Yahoo, of course. This article reports the good folks at AT&T have considered it. A monumentally bad idea, to my mind. Imagine a major telco owning a search company. Imagine further them owning a bunch of media, applications and content. Imagine the business model such a company might be inclined to push. Tiering, anyone?


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6 thoughts on “Goodness. AT&T In The Search Biz

  1. Dr. Pete says:

    A monumentally bad idea, indeed. Not only could you fill a blog with stories of what AT&T has bought and subsequently ruined, by I have no doubt they would try to monetize Yahoo! in ways that would reveal a complete cluelessness about the internet economy. Next, Rupert Murdoch will be buying Google.

  2. =bg= says:

    see “AOL to merge with Time-Warner.”

  3. marc sobel says:

    I think it is a monumentally good thing. AT&T has shown over the decades a merdeist touch to turn anything they touch except for Long Distance Dialing into shit. If they do this, this is a great short opportunity. The one thing AT&T has shown over and over is that they don’t understand any business model except their own paternalistic one.

  4. Evan Rudowski says:

    Hello John,

    Your memory is short! AT&T (the old one) was the largest shareholder in Excite@Home (my former employer). This was late in the game, but there’s no doubt that AT&T’s influence (along with the cable operators who were also major shareholders) limited the company’s flexibility as the market turned.

    There are those who argue that these shareholders deliberately drove Excite@Home into bankruptcy in order to free themselves of the constraints of their cable broadband deals with the company. In fact, settlements have been paid in connection with these allegations. So one could argue we’ve already seen what happens when a big telco/cable operator meets an internet search engine and portal.

    I had an even closer view of this phenomenon during my time as managing director of Excite UK Ltd, when a 50 percent share of Excite UK was sold to British Telecom (BT). Far from enjoying the supposed benefits of promotion and distribution by Britain’s dominant telco, we encountered instead the fear and loathing of lifelong cubicle-dwellers at BT who had no desire to be shown up by a fast-moving and freewheeling internet upstart.

    In spite of the support of a few perceptive people at BT, the relationship frustratingly went nowhere, snuffed out by a combination of deliberate and inadvertent neglect. Then BT embarked on its silly and ill-fated BT Openworld venture, in which it tried in-house to develop compelling internet content and services. After all, in the inevitable logic of telco executives, they already owned the customer relationship. How difficult could it be to create and deliver some content to those customers? Content’s gotta be a breeze compared with the complexity of running a telco, right?

    Once BT Openworld went kablooey, BT finally got wise and partnered with Yahoo! to deliver co-branded content and services (similar to SBC Yahoo!). At least BT understood by then to stick to what it was good at — distribution. Too late for those of us at Excite UK who by then had been scattered to the four winds of the internet landscape!

    Don’t ask about our relationships with telcos Retevision in Spain and Telecom Italia in Italy. I learned that whatever the national culture, there’s always a telco culture.

    Keep up the good work on your blog — it’s great.

    Kind regards,
    Evan Rudowski

  5. Farhan Memon says:

    It’s been over a decade since I lived in Canada but if memory serves me correctly both CTV, one of the private TV broadcasters and the Globe and Mail, the largest national newspaper, are units of Bell Canada Enterprises, the country’s largest telco.

  6. MultiZ says:

    I can’t see it being any worst. Yahoo already fills their site up with tons of ads.