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Questions On the Yahoo Bing Deal

By - July 30, 2009

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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.

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7 thoughts on “Questions On the Yahoo Bing Deal

  1. David says:

    John see my tweets today – MS get keys 2 Yahoo mobile discovery MS 2 power search on Yahoo’s mobile sites do wonders 4 MS in mob search where it’s a peripheral player

    MS/Yahoo mobile deal leaves Sprint as the only carrier working with Google. In all, Yahoo has about 70 operator relationships worldwide.

  2. patrick says:

    MSFT has said they will continue with BOSS and SearchMonkey in some fashion, TBD.

  3. Tom Nocera says:

    Great questions. Looking forward to learning the answers. Looks like your first of the year prediction regarding MS’s marketshare for search will come to pass. Damn, you are good. Had Yahoo hired you instead of Ms. Bartz, I have a hunch their shareholders would have been better served.

  4. Bertil says:

    Once again, you pointed at the actual issues: Yahoo! ability to do great search wasn’t at stake: they never were far behind Microsoft in that aspect. So what is behind this deal, except CEO egos?

  5. I would be interested in seeing where Microsoft has committed to preserving the Yahoo! technologies. So far they have been rather non-committal.

    The advertising network is what Ballmer wants. He’s only interested in increasing page views and driving up advertisers’ costs of acquisition (which would be a natural consequence of merging the two networks).

    But organic search stands to be gutted from this process and both consumers and marketers will have to figure out if they really want to live in a 2 search engine world.

    My feeling is that Ask has an opportunity to gain from this if the merger goes through.

    People do have an opportunity to express their concerns to the U.S. Department of Justice’s antitrust division. You don’t have to fly off the handle and yell and scream that doomsday is upon us, but I am sure they would appreciate hearing from consumers and marketers alike who may feel uncertain about the future.

    You can contact the US DOJ here:
    http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/contact/newcase.htm

    People in the European Union may be able to share their thoughts here:
    ec.europa.eu/competition/index_en.html

  6. Prefabrik says:

    Yahoo, as always with a strong infrastructure. But Microsoft will not be thrown in the wild as much a fact of financial support.

    I think the two are combined, you get a strong competitor to Google. More flexible because of more competition in the aesthetic of such technology would open the door.

    Not so?

  7. porno says:

    Looks like your first of the year prediction regarding MS’s marketshare for search will come to pass. Damn, you are good.

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