‘Yahoo!’: all about the name

Many thoughts around the place on Yahoo!’s probably acquisition by Microsoft for forty billion dollars. I like Gruber’s take.

I think the way to analyse this deal is by looking at what Microsoft gets out of buying Yahoo. Does Yahoo actually provide any products that Microsoft doesn’t? By and large, no: Microsoft has been bleeding money trying to replicate Yahoo’s online presence. Search/portal/community — there’s nothing that Yahoo has in material terms, give or take, that Microsoft doesn’t already (try to) do.

Except for the whole customers thing.

This is more like Google buying YouTube: after trying and failing to complete with the largely more successful product, the easy way out is to buy the mindshare. And you can’t keep the mindshare without retaining the original product.

So Microsoft can ditch its own attempts at creating a Yahoo knock-off and simply reap the rewards of owning the Yahoo name. The seemingly obvious thing to do with the acquisition is to keep the Yahoo stuff that makes money (search, email, Flickr, …), close down the competing areas that Microsoft does better (I guess that’d be the Zimbra thing that people keep mentioning), and watch the cash roll in. Or something like that.

As a non-Yahoo and non-Microsoft devotee, it doesn’t make any difference to me. (Oh, I’m a casual user of del.icio.us, but I had no idea they were owned by Yahoo and I can give it up without losing any sleep.) I hope for the sake of it’s fans that some semblance of Yahoo is left after the merger. Surely things couldn’t turn out as badly as everyone is saying?