02 February 2008

I wouldn't pay $30 Billion, never mind $44 Billion

What you'll have heard is that Microsoft, the lumbering dinosaur business of the 1980s, have finally stopped pussy-footing around and launched a hostile takeover bid for Yahoo!, AOL's contemporary from the infamous DotCom bubble.

AOL bought Time Warner in the heady days of the DotCom bubble using its inflated stock as currency. Ted Turner and his buddies fell for the false allure of the internet hook, line and sinker. Michael Eisner then Chairman and CEO of Disney, balked at the idea of AOL buying Disney or Warner even back then without the benefit of hindsight.

He might have been a flawed leader later in his tenure, and maybe he did lead Disney down another internet blind alley in the form of Go.com, but he can be commended for seeing that AOL was, in terms of core value, worthless.

The bottom fell out of the DotCom bubble shortly thereafter. AOL Time Warner's stocks plunged, AOL itself became increasingly a non-issue. Yahoo!, a major player in the key search market, also suffered.

And then, came the internet's pimp. Google went from strength to strength whilst Yahoo! floundered. A bewildered and confused Microsoft continued futile attempts to leverage its Windows dominance to sell users on their own internet services. Users turned over and yawned.

And so it has been ever since. Yahoo! continues to flounder, now valued at roughly $22 a share. Microsoft, increasingly aware that it is propped up by Office and Windows and even these products are facing problems, is using money to expand rather than innovation. The company is too big, too widely spread and ultimately too IBM to do anything else.

Microsoft lacks a true creative visionary, never mind leader. It's cash-rich and has many global brands it's failing to leverage. Somewhat like the beleaguered Apple of the mid-90s. And the newly empowered CEO is looking outside to plug the holes in the business.

When Apple bought NeXT from Steve Jobs and co., they did not just move NeXT's resources into Apple. What was Apple was removed. In a startling reverse take over, funded by Apple, the Old Apple gave way to what has been called The New Apple, the second Jobsian Apple.

But here's the thing, there already was a new Apple. It was called NeXT. All Apple had done was make the new Apple, Apple. What was in it for NeXT? After all, they already had the new Apple. Well it was the word "Apple". Steve Jobs made it clear, Apple's main asset is its brand.

So Ballmer is looking to acquire Yahoo!, Microsoft has lumbered down a blind alley and needs guidance out and Yahoo! needs a back door into more users to compete with Google.

So what's going to happen? I'll give you a hint: say good bye to Yahoo! and Microsoft. Oh sure, the names will stay. But Yahoo-Microsoft will see which management team has the best leadership vision and follow it. For both Microsoft's products and those of both Yahoo! and Microsoft.

Meanwhile, we hear that Amazon has bought Audible. Apple would have been well-advised to stop this. Audible would have been a good by for them too, allowing them to sell Audiobooks on iTunes in a more direct manner. It's not a huge loss for Apple, but Amazon is rapidly spreading outwards into new realms. Someone needs to worry.

Hey, maybe they can use their inflated stock to form Amazon-
Apple Yahoo!-Microsoft Time Warner (AOL Time Warner is seeking to divest itself of the worthless AOL, hence their name would be dropped).

Jens Out

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