What would you do with a multi billion dollar war chest? Well if your Microsoft, you try and buy up the largest search engine you can afford. But ever since Microsoft failed to convince the stubborn Jerry Yang to sell Yahoo, investors have been scratching their heads wondering, what will Microsoft do with all that money? A potential answer emerged last week in the San Francisco Chronicle with the news that Microsoft may spend as much as $20 billion to buy back its own shares within the next three months. Analysts believe this to be in response to its lagging share price which went from a 52 week high of $37.50 to as low as $24.87 by shareholders who worried Microsoft was overpaying for Yahoo. Investors may also be concerned that if buying Yahoo was plan a, plan b is something they should genuinely be worried about. Buying back shares should help push Microsoft’s stock price back up, and buy a bit of good will with shareholders. Tim Allen, analyst and portfolio manager at Wentworth, Hauser and Violich expressed relief that Microsoft was “not going to do something crazy”. The hope is that by reducing the number of shares in the market, earnings per share will increase and stock value will climb as a result. This doesn’t always happen, but is a pretty safe bet with a company like Microsoft that has a steady income stream. Microsoft shares closed down on Friday at $27.81.
Yahoo’s search ads deal with Google might have come as a shock to most but it elicited a different emotion among legislators, that of suspicion. Yahoo has made its 50 page agreement with Google public amid all the talk of it being anti-competitive. It filed the document with the Securities and Exchange Commission as a supplement along with its quarterly report card. But certain parts of the agreement are not available to the public and have been made available to SEC separately.
The prospects of an antitrust lawsuit still loom over the search ads deal, which capped Yahoo’s brazen defiance towards Microsoft. However, don’t mistakenly assume that the SEC is probing the matter. The probe into the legality of the agreement is being carried by U.S. Department of Justice and various states.
Tired of all the drama surrounding the future of Yahoo? You're not the only one. Not a week goes by without a new twist emerging in what's to become of the would-be search giant, and billionaire investor T. Boone Pickens has had enough. Aside from having one of the coolest names ever, Pickens also owned 10 million Yahoo shares, all of which he sold at a loss.
Pickens picked up the stock back in May in anticipation that activist Carl Icahn would wage a proxy contest to force Yahoo's board into signing on the dotted line with Microsoft. Tired of waiting, Pickens unloaded all his shares, but not without taking a parting short at Yahoo management.
"I think that Yahoo management was pathetic," Pickens told the San Francisco Chronicle.
It's unclear exactly how much money Pickens lost in the ordeal, but Yahoo stock was selling around $27 per share in late May and has since dropped to around $20 per share. Talk about a costly way to make a point.
A few weeks ago, Gigaom’s Stacey Higginbotham speculated that cloud computing would not be trusted by large corporations, but now Intel, Yahoo, and HP are looking to change that perspective. These powerhouse companies will have six data centers available for pre-selected researchers to test new applications with the possibility for more data centers to come.
There are many problems and concerns currently with cloud computing but John Manley, director of HP’s strategic research lab, wants to “create an environment that can begin to answer some of these challenges.” Aside from exploring new applications for cloud computing, the companies will allow researchers to look into how such huge scale computing can be reliable, manageable and secure. Manley believes that, "Anytime you get three companies of that stature looking to advance it, is significant. We consider cloud computing to be the next really big thing and the sky's the limit to the services it will enable over the next ten years."
Intel, Yahoo, and HP will each host one data center while the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, the University of Illinois, and the Steinbuch Centre for Computing in Germany will host the other three.
TechCrunch reports that the Delicious team says to get ready for the new version, it’s “almost ready” Of course we have heard that line before. Back in September ‘07 Delicious 2.0 was “feature complete and in private beta”. Hints where also dropped back in February that a launch was imminent. The TechCrunch guys are pretty confident that Team Delicious isn’t going to psych us out again and we can expect to see it launch soon.
Some folks were beginning to think the guys at Yahoo were pulling a Trillian Astra sort of tease and would end up in perpetual beta. Anyone want to setup a pool on who opens first, Delicious or Astra? Which gets your vote?
As if the tech community needed any more proof that DRM schemes only serve to hurt paying customers, Yahoo has decided to remind everyone why the whole concept sucks in the first place. Come September 30, Yahoo will shut off support for Yahoo Music, locking customers who purchased their tracks through the service from being able to transfer their tunes to a new hard drive or PC.
Here we go again. Microsoft pulled the same stunt when it pulled the plug on its MSN Music service. Amid community outcries, the software giant eventually caved to pressure and reversed its decision, offering customers a reprieve "until at least the end of 2011."
Who knows if Yahoo will end up doing the same thing, but as it stands now, customers who want to keep playing their purchased music after the end of September are being prevented from transferring their songs to another machine or even performing a clean OS install on their existing PC. Or they can choose to transfer their music library to RealNetwork's Rhapsody music service. And while customers decide between losing their music or jumping through hoops, pirates will continue to snag the songs they want through Limewire, Piratebay, and everywhere else where pirated music runs rampant.
Instant messaging is a great way to stay in touch, but anybody who uses it extensively knows the pain of having friends spread out over different services. Ever install a bulky and bloated IM client for just one friend? Or wished you could instant message all your groupies without running 5 different chat clients in the system tray? Well IM providers and a handful of crafty open source programmers have listened to our cries. Free browser-based alternatives exist for all the major platforms, and all in one desktop clients are finally able to bring the competing services together.
Yahoo’s CEO Jerry Yang has scored a major victory against corporate raider Carl Icahn ahead of the crucial board election on August 1. Legg Mason’s Bill Miller, who owns a 4.4% stake in the internet company, has vowed his allegiance to Jerry Yang and the current board. Bill Miller’s support is being inferred as a fatal blow for Icahn’s Microsoft-backed proxy war as analysts don’t expect any institutional investors – that hold a stake in Yahoo – to back the boardroom coup.
The only glimmer of hope for Icahn is Gordon Crawford, who controls a substantial 6.5% stake. Gordon has hinted that he can align with Icahn but remains undecided. Yang wants to leave nothing to chance and wants to finalize a deal with AOL before the upcoming board elections, however, the chances of the deal going through ere Aug 1 remain slim.
And is there any wonder? Time Warner has been in talks with both Microsoft and Yahoo about selling off its AOL unit through out this year, but both companies have been much more interested in each other than the crumbled remains of AOL. Time Warner has showed a renewed interest in a deal and Microsoft and Yahoo continue to listen, but neither company appeared to be especially interested.
The NYTimes.com quotes Richard Greenfield, an analyst who covers Time Warner for Pali Capital, “I don’t see why anyone would make a move now with all the pieces on the chess board where they are,” he said. He adds that Time Warner was in a bad spot because the value of AOL was declining. (Doesn’t everyone want dialup?) Its main business is now selling graphical display ads and that is under pricing pressure. Greenfield also says its brand has a “toxic” connotation with consumers. The company does not even use the AOL name when it starts new web sites.
From its days as the evil empire of dialup companies, they earned the nickname ‘AOHell’. The company seemed to lack firm direction, buying various companies with no obvious connection to their business and often ruining them in the process. Perhaps the most famous of these is ICQ. The most popular IM program of the time was turned into bloatware, which quickly sank out of sight. Don’t even get me started on Netscape. AOL entered the portal ring way late and had already bled dialup users seeking the freedom of the internet compared to AOL’s own internal version of it. The company has been aimless and with its almost necrotic touch, is it any wonder consumers find the brand toxic?
As Microsoft and Yahoo do the tango, but fail to consummate anything, Google continues to erode their shares of the search engine market. According to Hitwise, Google’s share increased from 68.29 percent to 69.17 percent in June. Yahoo’s share dropped from 19.95 percent to 19.62 percent. Microsoft dropped from 5.89 percent to 5.46 percent. Their sampling is based on 10 million U.S. Internet users
Google it seems has little to worry about from the Dynamic Duo anytime soon.