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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

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December 4, 2008 2:17 PM

Ballmer's Cash strategy revealed: Build Yahoo "One Piece at a Time"

Posted by Brier Dudley

Between Microsoft's announcement today that it hired ex-Yahoo exec Qi Lu to lead its online business group, and Tuesday's news about a bunch of new Yahooesque Windows Live services, I can't stop thinking about that great Johnny Cash song, "One Piece at a Time."

It's about a guy who covets a Cadillac, so he builds one himself, with pieces lifted from the factory, one at a time, year after year. Eventually he gets his car on the cheap, although it's not quite what he expected.

Li's the biggest piece yet -- he's head of Yahoo's search and ad technology engineering -- but Microsoft's been steadily bringing big Yahoo technical types to Redmond over the years. Like Gary Flake, founder of Yahoo's advanced research labs, who came to Seattle in 2005 to start Microsoft's Live Labs.

So it's time for "Yahoo, One Piece at a Time":

One day I devised myself a plan

That should be the envy of most any man

I'd just hire every one of their search guys I can

Now gettin' caught meant gettin' Kai Fu'd

But I figured I'd have it all by the time I retired

I'd have me a search engine worth at least 100 bil.

I'd get it one piece at a time

And it wouldn't cost me a dime

You'll know it's me when I come through your town

I'm gonna ride around in style

I'm gonna drive everybody wild

'Cause I'll have the only one there is around.

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Gadgets and games | Fun stuff I've written about lately includes Apple's iPhone, Hewlett-Packard's HDX laptop and Microsoft's Halo3. Also on the radar are new digital video boxes such as the Tivo HD and the Vudu.