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Yahoo – Microsoft and Yahoo Are Linked Up. Now What?


Yahoo – Microsoft and Yahoo Are Linked Up. Now What?

Yahoo,  The bumpy, marathon mating dance between Microsoft and Yahoo finally concluded on Wednesday, when the two companies announced a partnership in Internet search and advertising to take on the industry powerhouse Google.

But there was plenty of skepticism about whether the new partners could make a serious dent in Google’s dominance.

Even with the deal, the Microsoft-Yahoo search operation will be dwarfed by Google — with a 28 percent market share in the United States, versus 65 percent — and will face an uphill struggle to try to wean people away from Google’s simple white search page.

If Yahoo and Microsoft cannot persuade people to switch, they will not build the larger audience that will bring in more revenue from ads tied to searches.

“This battle is won or lost as the user sits at the keyboard,” said Peter S. Fader, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and co-director of its Interactive Media Initiative. “Google is winning for good, consumer-friendly reasons. You can’t just buy that.”

The Microsoft-Yahoo pact represents a pragmatic division of duties between the two companies, instead of the blockbuster deal Microsoft, No. 3 in the search market, was shooting for last year when it bid $47.5 billion to buy Yahoo, No. 2 in search.

That hostile offer was ultimately withdrawn by Microsoft, and its collapse led to lots of soul-searching at Yahoo and the replacement of its co-founder Jerry Yang with an outsider, Carol Bartz, in the chief executive role.

Under the pact, Microsoft will provide the underlying search technology on Yahoo’s popular Web sites. The deal will give a lift to Microsoft’s search engine, which it recently overhauled and renamed Bing. Its search ads will have broader reach and become more lucrative.

Bing, which tries to put search results in better context than rivals, has won praise and favorable reviews, after Microsoft spent years falling farther and farther behind Google in search.

For Yahoo, the move furthers the strategy under Ms. Bartz to focus the company on its strengths as a publisher of Web media sites in areas like finance and sports, as a marketer and leader in online display advertising.

“This deal allows Yahoo to invest in what we should be investing in for the future — audience properties, display advertising and the mobile Internet experience,” Ms. Bartz said in an interview on Wednesday. “Our vision is to be the center of people’s lives online.”

The terms of the 10-year agreement give Microsoft access to Yahoo’s search technologies. Yahoo will receive a lucrative 88 percent of the search-generated ad revenue from its own sites for the first five years of the deal, much higher than is standard in the industry.

After the takeover bid failed, the companies renewed talks about a partnership last summer. The talks included discussion of a large upfront payment from Microsoft.

But when Ms. Bartz joined Yahoo at the start of this year, the interest on the Yahoo side shifted. Ms. Bartz was more interested in steady revenue to ensure the longer-term financial health of Yahoo instead of a big payment, she said in a conference call Wednesday.

Shares of Yahoo fell 12 percent, to $15.14, after the deal was announced, apparently reflecting investors’ disappointment in the lack of a payment. Shares of Microsoft rose slightly.

“It feels kind of like a stab in the chest,” said Darren Chervitz, the co-manager of the Jacob Internet Fund, which owns about 100,000 shares of Yahoo. “It certainly feels like Yahoo is giving away their strong and hard-fought share of the search market for really a modest price.”

Now, Yahoo’s financial fate will be inextricably linked with Microsoft for years. “My sense is that Yahoo will regret making this move,” Mr. Chervitz said.

If the deal is completed next year as planned, and after the partnership is fully in place in three years, Yahoo estimates that its operating income will increase by $500 million a year, based on the anticipated higher search traffic and ad revenue, and a substantial drop in its investment in technology development.

Steven A. Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive, said in an interview that Ms. Bartz had driven a hard bargain. “Look,” he said, “she got 88 percent of the revenue and none of the cost.”

Still, Mr. Ballmer added that he won something he badly wanted as well: “I got an opportunity to swing for the fences in search.”

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India media: politician killed in copter crash

India Helicopter

India media: politician killed in copter crash

HYDERABAD, India – A powerful Indian politician and four other people were killed when their helicopter crashed in the dense jungles of southern India during a pounding rainstorm, Indian media reported Thursday.

The helicopter carrying Andhra Pradesh state Chief Minister Y.S.R. Reddy, 60, lost contact with air traffic controllers Wednesday morning as heavy rains pelted the region, setting off a frantic 24-hour search operation involving the army, air force and police in an area infested with Maoist rebels.

On Thursday morning, commandoes and police finally reached the site of the crash after hacking through the jungles and found the bodies of all five people who had been on the aircraft, including Reddy, Press Trust of India reported, quoting officials from the ruling Congress Party.

Television also reported that five bodies had been found at the site about 170 miles (275 kilometers) south of the state capital, Hyderabad. There was no immediate official confirmation of Reddy’s death.

On Thursday, rescue teams crossing dense jungle and hilly terrain on foot reached the site, 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the nearest village, Rudrakodur. There was no immediate indication that the helicopter was shot down.

The privately owned helicopter took off from Hyderabad and lost contact with air traffic controllers about 45 minutes into the flight. Reddy, who was surveying drought conditions in some of the remote parts of the state, was accompanied by a bodyguard, an aide and two pilots.

Reddy, who belongs to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s ruling Congress Party, won a second term in office in May elections. A devout Christian in Hindu-majority India, Reddy worked his way into the Congress leadership over the past three decades by taking up the cause of poor farmers and landless laborers.

“This is a huge loss for the Congress Party,” said Jayanti Natarajan, a Congress spokeswoman in New Delhi.

The rebels, who say they are inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, have been fighting for more than three decades in several Indian states, including Andhra Pradesh, demanding land and jobs for agricultural laborers and the poor.

While the militants have a great deal of power in parts of rural India, they have little day-to-day control outside of isolated forests and villages. More than 6,500 people have been killed in the violence.

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