Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Yahoogle?: Microsoft Will “Let Loose the Dogs of War”


With the ad-outsourcing deal between Yahoo (YHOO) and Google (GOOG) finally announced–in a press release so parsed and careful, it makes me immediately suspect–one Microsoft (MSFT) source joked to me:

“Let loose the dogs of war.”

Translation: Bite me!

Indeed, even though the deal has not been announced, Microsoft is girding its considerable loins to battle even a minor deal.

(So will noisy activist groups, by the way, even those Microsoft is not paying for, as well as advertisers and marketers.)

The software giant had been honing its knives by giving Google a very hard time over the DoubleClick deal–such a difficult time that some Google execs still get visibly furious about Microsoft’s hardball tactics when asked about it.

Well, that’s going to be like a minor playground scuffle compared to the howitzers BoomTown expects Microsoft to unleash over this.

While I have never much liked Microsoft’s thuggish tendencies and think it’ll use particularly sneaky techniques here since it’s smarting over really blowing the attempted takeover of Yahoo, with true repercussions still to come, such pressure on a Yahoo-Google link-up is much deserved.

As I have written again and again, such a partnership–however small it is painted by the companies–is a dangerous and unwelcome development for the Internet.

As I wrote in April:

And while it might be a long-cherished dream of Google’s to take over Yahoo search–and also get the chance to return to the scene of the crime, since Google got its first big push from doing Yahoo search, before Yahoo wised up too late–there is simply no way this will be allowed by regulators nor should it.

Still, you have to almost admire the chutzpah of the search giant in making this move, if the sheer and unadulterated arrogance of it wasn’t so distracting.

Because, while Google has almost none of the obvious menacing aggression that characterized Microsoft when it thoroughly dominated tech (although all those beach bikes on its campus inexplicably creep me out a little bit), the company still cannot be allowed to have a monopolistic share of the market.

It is bad for advertisers, it is bad for consumers, it is bad for innovation, no matter how well-intentioned Google is.

And no matter how many flashy moves Google and Yahoo make, it is flat-out wrong for one player to so dominate such an important sector.”

And the ability of Google to sidle its way into Yahoo and get even a tiny toehold in the company spells curtains for Yahoo, because it comes too late to do any true good.

As I have also written, the company should have gotten out of the search ad and even search business entirely and doubled down on its other stellar assets in software, services and content, as well as display advertising.

Now, operating from a position of considerable weakness, tarnished in the eyes of investors and seeing a troubling exodus of top talent, letting the powerful Google “help” it, as I have also written, reminds me of the old “Twilight Zone” episode called “To Serve Man” (see video below).

In other words, after getting pummeled into tenderness by Microsoft, Yahoo’s tastiest bits will eventually be gobbled up by Google, making the rest of Yahoo a serf to the Google empire.

And by taking Google’s too-hard-to-resist pile of cash, it’s enough to make anyone who admires what Yahoo once represented–excellence, independence and leadership in the Internet space–a little bit queasy.

Please see this disclosure related to me and Google.