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Wall Street Not Happy As Yahoo Tries To Dodge Microsoft Bullet

Yahoo is rumored to be looking for alternatives to stay out of Microsoft’s clutches, and Wall Street is not happy. The rumors say that Yahoo has started up merger talks with Time Warner’s AOL unit, or rather restarted them, desperate for anything that doesn’t involve selling the company for an amount Yahoo says seriously undervalues the company. Yahoo may be playing Microsoft for more money, either out of a desire to profit or so Jerry Yang can go out with some pride.

A source close to Yahoo!’s thinking told The Times: “All they [Microsoft] are trying to do is pick off the company on the cheap. They’re trying to steal it. And the board is not going to let that happen. They have gone for a valuation that reflects the five-year low of the stock.”

The source added: “It would have to be in the 40s to start talking, and we would have to get over regulatory issues. It would have to be an offer that would give Jerry Yang something to stand on a podium and smile about.”

Valleywag jokingly reminds us that AOL lazily ripped off Yahoo’s home page months ago, so Yahoo wouldn’t even need to worry about integration.

Wall Street is already getting mad at Yahoo’s delay tactics and posturing. Investors in Yahoo are saying they are sick of losing their money, and are looking to cash out with the Microsoft offer, whether or not it is actually good for the company. That’s bad news for Yahoo, because it means that regardless of what it does, investors are likely to get pissed off and turn on the company, that is unless Yang can pull a brilliant rabbit out of his purple hat. If Microsoft does go hostile, early indications are Steve Ballmer will find all the votes he needs to takeover the Yahoo board.

February 12th, 2008 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | AOL, Yahoo Acquisition, Corporate, Yahoo | no comments



Office Live - Now Completely Free

office-live-beta-logo.pngMicrosoft has announced version 2 of Office Live, and besides new features, they’ve gotten rid of one really important thing: The monthly fee. There is only one version of Office Live, and it’s the free one, with users paying for extra features, instead. Office Live Small Business offers a free domain name for the first year ($14.95 a year afterward), 100 business email accounts, a contact manager, document storage and sharing, collaborative online workspaces, a project manager and round-the-clock support.

Office Live’s 600,000 customers should be plenty happy with the removal of the premium tier and the premium features that are moving to the free (and only) tier. If you can bring your own domain, Office Live could be a great email management/collaborative workspace/contact manager add-on for existing sites. Those without existing websites can, of course, let Office Live run everything for them, and not pay a dime.

The best add-on appears to be the Store Manager, allowing site owners to create full-on web stores for forty bucks a month. Mary Jo Foley describes:

One such paid service is Store Manager, a hosted e-commerce offering for $39.95 per month, that will help customers sell products on their own site, as well as on eBay. (Microsoft is planning to support other e-commerce sites with future releases, officials said.) Another example: Custom domain name and e-mail support, which will provide customers with private domain-name registration, plus 100 company-branded e-mail addresses, each with 5 GB of storage. Microsoft is offering that service for free for the first year and $14.95 per year after that.

Features and extras available:

  • Store Manager is a hosted e-commerce service that enables users to easily sell products on their own Web site and on eBay. ($39.95 per month)
  • Custom domain name and business e-mail is available to all customers for free for one year ($14.95 annually thereafter). Private domain name registration is included to help customers protect their contact information from spammers. Business e-mail now includes 100 company-branded accounts, each with 5 GB of storage.
  • Advanced Web design capabilities, including the ability to customize the entire page, as well as the header, footer, navigation, page layouts and more.
  • Round-the-clock customer support. Small-business owners are often on the job around the clock, and so is the Office Live Small Business support team.
  • Support for Firefox 2.0 means Office Live Small Business tools and features are now compatible with Macs.
  • A simplified sign-up process allows small-business owners to get started quickly. Users no longer have to choose a domain name at sign up or enter their credit card.
  • Domain flexibility allows businesses to obtain their domain name through any provider and redirect it to Office Live Small Business. In addition, customers may purchase additional domain names.
  • Synchronization with Microsoft Office Outlook provides customers with access to vital business information such as their Office Live Small Business e-mail, contacts, and calendars, both online and offline.
  • E-mail Marketing beta enables users to stay connected to current customers and introduce themselves to new ones by sending regular e-mail newsletters, promotions and updates (200 e-mails per month free during beta).
  • Contact Manager is the foundation of customer marketing. The improved user interface enables customers to find and add contacts more efficiently (free).
  • adManager search marketing tool is now easier to use and allows users to advertise across multiple sites and search engines, including MSN, Live Search, Ask.com, Excite.com and Lycos.com (pay-per-click pricing).
  • Business applications are now included free to all customers and are easier to navigate and use. Two of the most popular applications — Team Workspace and Document Manager — are automatically provisioned. Customers can easily activate any of the more than 20 others, such as Project Manager.
  • Reports have been updated to include reporting for Store Manager, adManager and E-mail Marketing beta. With Web site traffic and marketing reporting integrated into one central reporting experience, customers can have the insights they need to understand how their marketing campaigns impact site traffic.
  • Homepage gadgets have been updated to include additional gadgets such as a Reports gadget that shows users at a glance the number of unique visitors and page views for the current week and the previous two weeks (free).

February 12th, 2008 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Office Live, Live, Windows | 7 comments