Unfortunately our schedules didn’t match up yesterday, and I did not get a chance to talk to the folks now responsible for the Yahoo Microsoft deal.
But as I thought through the deal and its implications, a ton of questions came to mind, and it seems worth the time to write them down. Perhaps folks can answer them in this thread- I know there has been a lot of information flying around, and it’s entirely likely that many of these questions have been posed and answered elsewhere.
So where to start? On its face, the deal is pretty clean. Microsoft runs the technology and owns the long tail, self service advertisers through AdCenter, Yahoo owns sales with larger customers and will keep the lion’s share of the revenue its site generates.
But when you start thinking about it, a lot of questions remain unresolved. To wit:
- What will become of all of Yahoo’s efforts in search, many of which were, philosophically at least, quite promising? In particular, what becomes of Yahoo BOSS? Of Yahoo’s philosophy of “open search,” (witness SearchMonkey), which I find compelling? Does that all go away now?
- Related, the deal states that Yahoo is free to build its own user interface on top of Bing on its own sites. But Bing’s interface is actually, to my mind, one of its core strengths. Will there be an open API and SDK for building innovative interfaces on top of Bing, or will this essentially fork between what Microsoft does on sites it controls, and Yahoo’s approach on sites it controls? I for one think it’d be really smart to let a thousand developers bloom with Bing/Yahoo.
- Will the two companies work together to develop an alternative to AdSense? So far, it’s a one company race in that world.
- What will happen to all the technologies (and people) related to Yahoo’s current search platform? Will it be sold to a third party, retired, or continued on some other fashion?
- Will the combined companies go after other major distribution points like AOL, Ask, etc? Will they work together or will that be Microsoft’s role alone, and does Yahoo have any say in how those deals might work, given it provides the majority of the distribution?
- Related, and critical, how will data be shared between the companies? What data will be shared, and to what end will it be used?
- Again related, but how will that data be used in each company’s display platforms? Yahoo has “apt”, Microsoft has aQuantive…both have exchanges, ad networks, and display infrastructure. Will they continue to compete, or might they find a deal, at least in “performance display”? In premium display, which is clearly where both companies will compete, how will search data be leveraged?
- The initial market response to the deal is that Yahoo looks weaker. How does Yahoo respond to that sentiment?
- Related, what is the vision for Yahoo now that it has exited the search business? What is the core mission and vision for the company – is it no longer a technology play? Pure media play?
- What about mobile search? Does this deal extend to mobile? Local (where I thought Yahoo always did best).
That’s my first set of questions, I’ll add more as you send em in to me…
UPDATE: Both Yahoo and Microsoft have been in touch about chatting further, and we hope to slate time later in the month (as I am on “vacation”)….more as I have it.