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Brier Dudley's Blog

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

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December 11, 2012 10:27 AM

Microsoft vet Blake Irving named Go Daddy's big daddy

Posted by Brier Dudley

It was only a matter of time before Blake Irving was snapped up by another tech company.

Today Irving was named chief executive of Go Daddy, the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based web hosting and domain registrar that leads the market but is known particularly for its tawdry advertising.

Irving (pictured) starts Jan. 7, succeeding interim Chief Executive Scott Wagner. Wagner represented buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, which led a $2.25 billion leveraged buyout of Go Daddy in 2011.

Blake Irving 5x7.jpg
"Blake Irving's deep technology experience and his history of developing new cutting-edge products and leading large global teams make him an enormously compelling choice to drive Go Daddy to the next level of its domestic and global growth," founder and Chairman Bob Parsons said in a release.

Irving spent 15 years at Microsoft, rising to vice president of Microsoft's Windows Live platform. He left in 2007 and ended up as chief product officer at Yahoo.

At Yahoo, Irving seemed like a potential successor to then-Chief Executive Carol Bartz but Yahoo instead replaced her with former PayPal executive Scott Thompson in January. He left in May, amid a flap over incorrect information on his resume.

Irving left Yahoo in April and put his energy into being a dad, surfing and restoring his family's historic home in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Irving's familiar with the Southwest. Between Microsoft and Yahoo, he invested in real estate in Santa Fe and he serves on the board of Scottsdale-based GolfLogix.

He also spent time teaching at Pepperdine University, where he earlier received an MBA after graduating from San Diego State.

Comments | Category: Digital media , Entrepreneurs , Microsoft , Tech work , Yahoo! |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

September 6, 2011 4:53 PM

Yahoo! CEO fired via phone! Microsoft vet on deck?

Posted by Brier Dudley

Yahoo Chief Executive Carol Bartz was fired today, a story broken by Kara Swisher at AllThingsD.

Bartz - and Yahoo itself - were on loose footing so it's not a huge surprise.

Yahoo__Carol_Bartz-thmb.jpg
But the juiciest bit is the way Bartz was fired - via a phone call from Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock.

That's according to a farewell note that Bartz sent employees from her iPad. It quickly appeared on TechCrunch and Swisher's blog. It said:

"I am very sad to tell you that I've just been fired over the phone by Yahoo's Chairman of the Board. It has been my pleasure to work with all of you and I wish you only the best going forward."

Maybe Bostock wanted to be able to hang up quickly if Bartz let fly with her trademark profanity.

Swisher's report said Yahoo's CFO Tim Morse has been named interim chief executive.

Yahoo__Blake_Irving-thmb.jpg
I'd heard that a likely successor for Bartz is Blake Irving, the former Windows Live platform boss who is now Yahoo's executive vice president and chief product officer. That's Irving at left.

Swisher's piece questions whether something bigger is happening at Yahoo, like a breakup or strategic partnership, which could leave the executive position in limbo for awhile.

Comments | Category: Yahoo! |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

May 2, 2011 10:25 AM

Bill Gates: Tax the rich, and Yahoo deal wasn't bad

Posted by Brier Dudley

Bill Gates shared a few thoughts on Microsoft's deal with Yahoo during a Fox Business Network interview keyed to the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting.

Gates was interviewed by Liz Claman along with Buffett and Susan Decker, former Yahoo president.

Gates and Decker both said the Yahoo merger was sensible, although other Microsoft shareholders were relieved that Yahoo rejected Microsoft's $44.6 billion offer before the economy dove in 2008.

Here are a few excerpts provided by the network.

Decker on whether Yahoo should have teamed up with Microsoft:

"Yes absolutely. I think it was a mistake that the merger was not effected for Yahoo shareholders."

Gates on the strategic partnership between Yahoo and Microsoft:

"The companies are doing a lot together. Google is a tough competitor, so combining some of the strengths of Yahoo and Microsoft clearly made sense; whether that was done through a merger or a key business deal where it ended up that gives that partnership a chance of competing with Google and making sure they don't get too lazy."

Gates on whether he advises Buffett to buy technology companies:

"I think he is very wise in sticking to businesses that have a more predictable future."

Gates, Buffeet and Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger all said the rich should pay more taxes -- and the Bush tax cuts shouldn't have been extended -- to help lower the deficit. The exchange:

Munger: "No. I would argue that we could stand a little higher taxes on people like me."

Buffett: "And me."

Munger: "And you, too."

Claman: "Bill?"

Gates: "Absolutely."

Claman: "Bill's a little quiet there."

Gates: "I'll pay if you pay."

(LAUGHTER)

Gates: "No, I pay more taxes than anyone so I'm -- and I'm glad to pay more."

Comments | Category: Bill Gates , Billionaire techies , Microsoft , Public policy , Yahoo! |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 12, 2010 11:43 AM

Facebook email service coming Monday?

Posted by Brier Dudley

Facebook is expected to announce a new messaging service on Monday and some are predicting that it's going to unveil a Web email system to compete with Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo Mail.

Fmail, perhaps?

The move comes as Facebook and Google are in a tiff over exporting contact lists. Google last week making it more difficult for Facebook to hoover up contact lists.

PCWorld has a rundown of the rumors. The latest is TechCrunch's report that the social networking site will launch a "Gmail killer" code-named Project Titan that will offer personal email addresses ending with "@facebook.com."

GigaOm earlier speculated that Facebook's going to upgrade its mobile chat feature and add a "one to many" group chat capability.

The move could make Facebook even more central to users' lives. Avid users may be excited to unify their mail and social network services.

Others may want to keep in mind Facebook's evolving approach to privacy - and challenges simplifying its privacy management tools - before giving it responsibility for their personal mail.

Given the spat with Google over sharing contact information, a big question will be how Facebook's message system syncs with the established Web mail services.

I wonder if Facebook's friendly uncle Microsoft will be involved, supporting Facebook mail with easy connections to its Live.com online services, or perhaps even powering the mail system.

Comments | Category: Facebook , Google , Microsoft , Web , Yahoo! |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

August 30, 2010 2:17 PM

SEO tips: Twitterific words, scoring a Google 7 pack and more

Posted by Brier Dudley

Grand wizards of the search marketing world were sharing secrets today at a seminar hosted by SEOmoz, the Seattle search marketing software provider.

Here are a few search marketing (and Twitter) tips and tricks from the sessions I attended at the Seattle Westin today.


Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Bing , Google , Twitter , Web , Yahoo! |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

August 25, 2010 9:56 AM

Google adds free phone calls to Gmail, wow

Posted by Brier Dudley

Remember how Google lured people to Gmail by providing huge amounts of online storage? It's doing it again with phone calls.

Google today announced that Gmail users can make free long distance calls in the U.S. and Canada through a cool new feature that lets you place calls from wtihin Gmail to a mobile or landline phone.

"Call phone" is a new option in Gmail's list of contacts to chat with, on the left side of the page. You can dial with a keypad that pops up, or enter a contact's name to call them.

Gcalls.jpg
Calling phones from computers isn't new but Google's built a simple system and underwritten its launch with a generous batch of free calling.

From Google's announcement:

Gmail voice and video chat makes it easy to stay in touch with friends and family using your computer's microphone and speakers. But until now, this required both people to be at their computers, signed into Gmail at the same time. Given that most of us don't spend all day in front of our computers, we thought, "wouldn't it be nice if you could call people directly on their phones?"

The offer's the latest way consumers are benefiting from the ongoing battle over Web services Google, Microsoft and Yahoo. It also comes as students are heading back to school, setting up new email accounts and choosing which services they'll use to stay in touch with friends and family.

Gmail's calling is a great deal, but it also reflects the new financial realism affecting the maturing seach company.

Unlike the online storage accounts provided with Gmail, which are perpetually free and continue to expand, the free long distance calling is promised only for the next four months.

After that, Gmail customers accustomed to the service - and new Gmail users drawn by the calling - will presumably have to start paying fees.

Google's also charging from the start for international calls placed through Gmail. They have per minute fees ranging from .02 cents to $4.99. Calls to Mexico are 10 cents a minute.

Comments | Category: Google , Microsoft , Web , Yahoo! |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

July 8, 2010 9:01 PM

Zillow hooks up with Yahoo on ad deal

Posted by Brier Dudley

Everyone's been wondering if Zillow would someday hook up with one of the big Web portals.

Now it's finally happening, sort of.

Under a deal being announced Friday, Zillow is going to become the exclusive partner of Yahoo Real Estate, handling real estate advertising for both sites. The two are also combining their listing directories.

Zillow and Yahoo aren't marrying, but they're now in a pretty serious relationship.

The companies run the second and third largest Web real estate sites in the country, according to comScore data they provided. It pegged Zillow's May traffic at 7 million unique visitors and Yahoo Real Estate's at 6.1 million uniques.

Linked together they'll pose a bigger challenge to the category leader, Move.com. Move, which includes Realtor.com, drew 12 million uniques in May.

"For Zillow this is a seminal announcement in our four-year history because it effectively doubles our size,'' said Spencer Rascoff, Zillow chief operating officer.

For-sale listings bought on Zillow will automatically appear on Yahoo Real Estate. Yahoo will continue to handle its own display and search ads sold to companies such as home-improvement stores.

Executives from both companies wouldn't comment on how this might affect Zillow -- Seattle's best-capitalized Web startup -- going public or being acquired someday by Yahoo or someone else.

Zillow and Yahoo Real Estate have had a smaller partnership since 2006, when Yahoo began using Zillow's Zestimate house value estimations on its site.

The sites will continue to look different to consumers, but they'll have the same ads, explained Steve Schultz, head of Yahoo Real Estate.

It sounds a little bit like the join operating agreements that newspapers in the same market used to combine business operations, such as the arrangement that had The Seattle Times handling advertising for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for 26 years until 2009.

Rascoff and Schultz wouldn't say how long their deal will last, but they expect it to take effect in the fall.

Comments | Category: Yahoo! , Zillow |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

July 30, 2009 10:03 AM

Microsoft slip? Return on Yahoo deal, costs revealed in confidential slide

Posted by Brier Dudley

A particularly interesting slide was released at Microsoft's analyst meeting. It included "context" about the Yahoo deal and was marked "not for disclosure."

In other words, the slide had the secret internal analysis of what the Yahoo deal means to Microsoft, including details that weren't revealed in yesterday's announcement or today's presentation to analysts.

It was included in the slide deck briefly available for download from Microsoft's investor site but wasn't shown during Steve Ballmer's speech.

Among the details:

"Net: We will lose money the first two years ($300m total) then start making a decent return ($400m steady state)."

Microsoft also expects total transition costs of the deal to be $600 million to $700 million ("up to $200m could hit us in 2010"), according to the slide.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Microsoft , Yahoo! |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

July 30, 2009 8:42 AM

Microsoft analyst meeting: Ballmer said "nobody gets" Yahoo deal

Posted by Brier Dudley

Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer started Microsoft's 2009 analyst meeting with a few hardballs.

He said Microsoft has stumbled on its mobile phone effort, but it's going to continue with a "software only" strategy that's the right way "to get 50, 60 percent market share."

Ballmer said early confusion about netbooks and mobile Internet devices has passed and now people realize that they're PCs - PCs that mostly run Windows, not Linux as Microsoft investors feared.

"A netbook is a PC,'' he explained. "Nobody wanted any netbooks that didn't have Windows on them. So we went from nothing to about 95, 96 percent attach (preloaded on netbooks), and I'll tell you the other 4 percent probably have Windows on them also.''

Then he jumped into the Yahoo deal, which he said needs further explanation.

"Nobody gets it," he said of the deal.

Ballmer explained how the deal will immediately benefit Microsoft (and Yahoo) by scaling up Bing.

"The partnership in and of itself creates economic value. not just on the future promise of improved product, improved share and improved revenue," he said in a hoarse voice, jabbing a finger in the air to emphasize his points. "It creates an immediate opportunity for synergy."

With Bing scaling up, Microsoft's cost of running search should be lower as a percentage of sales, he said.

Ballmer also noted that Microsoft's costs will only be a few hundred million over the next couple of years, but Yahoo will get "well over 50 percent of the economic value" of the deal.

"I was kind of surprised by the market reaction," he said.

Microsoft stock is about flat this morning, at $24, and Yahoo's down 5 percent to $14.30.

Comments | Category: Microsoft , Yahoo! |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

July 29, 2009 2:00 PM

Microsoft-Yahoo deal: Ballmer's triumph

Posted by Brier Dudley

Think what you will about Steve Ballmer, but the Microsoft chief executive's deal with Yahoo was masterly.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Microsoft , Yahoo! |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

July 27, 2009 11:43 AM

Ad Age: Microsoft and Yahoo finalizing search deal

Posted by Brier Dudley

Get ready for Microsoft and Yahoo to announce their search partnership this week, according to a strong report by Advertising Age.

It said the deal's being finalized, with last minute haggling over how much Microsoft will pay up front and how the Bing brand will appear on Yahoo searches. An excerpt:

The deal, which would make Microsoft a more credible competitor to Google, is likely to be announced this week, and seems likely to be based on a revenue share, not on a big fat check upfront, as some at Yahoo had hoped.

It's going to be a big story when it finally breaks, but it's nothing like what a Microsoft-Yahoo merger would have been. Instead it's turning out to be yet another big search partnership between and provider and a portal.

Comments | Category: Microsoft , Yahoo! |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

July 16, 2009 2:25 PM

Blog jumps on presumed analyst report saying YHOO-MSFT deal "imminent"

Posted by Brier Dudley

The long-awaited Microsoft-Yahoo search hookup may happen soon, according to a report attributed to ThinkEquity analyst William Morrison.

We've heard that a few times before, and the latest take was deflated by Eric Savitz at Barron's, who was told by the analyst that the initial report was inaccurate.

A Microsoft spokesman said the company will not comment on the latest speculation.

Who knows what's going on, but the timing does seem logical.

24/7 Wall Street said it heard this from Morrison:

Sources beyond ThinkEquity speculate that under the terms of the arrangement, Yahoo! will be paid $3 billion upfront and will get 110% of the revenue that its searches provide after traffic acquisition costs in each of the first two years. In the third year, that figure would go to 90%.

The report noted this would give Microsoft 30 perent of the U.S. search market and keep Bing's momentum going, after its initial launch bump.

Microsoft has $3.75 billion on tap from a debt offering in May, and Yahoo's new boss has said she's open to a deal if there's enough money on the table.

Now would be the time for Microsoft to close any such deal.

It's going to report fiscal year-end earnings next week, and hold its annual financial analyst meeting the week after that in Redmond. Bing's outlook and the status of the on-again, off-again Yahoo talks will be among the questions Wall Street types will have for Ballmer & Co.

Comments | Category: Microsoft , Yahoo! |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

May 27, 2009 11:30 AM

Bartz: Microsoft can have Yahoo search for "boatloads of money"

Posted by Brier Dudley

Yahoo search is available, if Microsoft wants to pay enough, Yahoo's new chief executive, Carol Bartz, said this morning at the D: All Things Digital conference in Carlsbad, Calif.

An excerpt, from D blogger John Paczkowski's report:

"If there's boatloads of money and the right technology involved would be do a deal, sure," says Bartz. "It's that simple." So Yahoo is willing to sell search if the money is right and the technology is there? Bartz: "Yes." Then a moment later ... "They'd have to have biiiiig boatloads of money, though." Are talks between the two companies still going on. Bartz says a little bit.

So what's a boatload, at a company that turned down Steve Ballmer's $44.6 billion offer last year?

How about $3.75 billion, plus a new Ford Fusion?

Comments | Category: Microsoft , Yahoo! |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

March 19, 2009 12:29 PM

Ballmer says he still wants to hook up with Yahoo

Posted by Brier Dudley

From Bloomberg's report on Steve Ballmer's presentation in New York today:

"I do think there is a fairly compelling set of economics that underpin the idea of a search partnership, and, unless I'm fooling myself, over time, I think there is a good opportunity for a deal."

Ballmer's speaking at a McGraw Hill conference where he was interviewed on stage by BusinessWeek editor Stephen Adler. Peter Kafka live blogged it here, noting tidbits such as Ballmer's comment that he prefers Microsoft's technology to Yahoo's but wants the latter's scale:

"Whether or not there's a partnership to be had with Yahoo, we think our own innovation... it's not about Yahoo's technology. It's really about getting the pooled volume, because you actually can improve your product faster if you have more users."

Kafka also noted that Yahoo Chief Executive Carol Bartz happens to be in New York as well ...

Also today in New York: Google's now down about $4, or 1 percent. Yahoo's up 2 percent and Microsoft's up 0.5 percent.

Comments | Category: Microsoft , Yahoo! |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

October 16, 2008 9:29 AM

UPDATE 2: Ballmer says "perhaps" another Yahoo deal, but official line is "no"

Posted by Brier Dudley

Speaking at the Gartner conference in Orlando, Florida, Steve Ballmer said he hasn't given up on a Yahoo deal, prompting YHOO to reach out of the gutter a bit (YHOO was up on the news around 14 percent, to $13.25, but it's now at $12.73, up 8 percent for the day).

But is Ballmer talking about partnering with Yahoo's search business, not buying the whole company, even though it seems like a relative bargain? Bloomberg's report says he's talking about a search deal, although he also said that an outright purchase would "still make sense economically," according to Marketwatch.

Gartner has a link to the Ballmer webcast here. I wasn't able to open it; Gartner's site is saying "the event has not yet begun."

To clarify, a Microsoft spokesman in Bellevue just issued this statement:

"Our position hasn't changed. Microsoft has no interest in acquiring Yahoo!; there are no discussions between the companies."

A search partnership would be interesting, but the big merger is what got everyone wondering. Ballmer's got to be glad that didn't come to pass, especially with Yahoo's market cap down to around $18 billion, compared to the $47.5 billion he was offering earlier this year.

If Yahoo falls just a bit more, Ballmer could afford to buy the thing himself.

Or maybe we'll be seeing Microsofties wearing t-shirts next week that say "My CEO went to Orlando and all I got was this downtrodden Internet company."

From a Bloomberg report:

"It's clear that Yahoo did not want to sell the company. It didn't want to sell when we offered $33," Ballmer said. "Perhaps there will be continuing opportunities to" talk about a search partnership in the future, he said.

If the spokesman's statement is right, maybe Ballmer's just horsing around.

Comments | Category: Microsoft , Web , Yahoo! |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 4, 2007 4:40 PM

Picnik.com partners with Flickr

Posted by Brier Dudley

Could this be the breakout for Picnik, a Seattle startup that developed an online photo editing application?

The companies announced today a partnership "to fully integrate Picnik's comprehensive photo-editing tools within Flickr."

The deal gives Picnik Chief Executive Jonathan Sposato a trifecta with the major Internet companies. He worked at Microsoft, then started a company (Phatbits) that was sold to Google. Now he's made a deal with Yahoo, owner of Flickr.

A Picnik spokeswoman wouldn't say whether Flickr is also investing in the company.

Release quotes:

"Providing the ability to edit directly within Flickr is an important step in offering our 20 million members around the globe a complete photo experience," Kakul Srivastava, senior director of product management at Flickr.
"This integration is a key milestone in achieving the Picnik team's vision of providing fun, weightless photo editing superpowers wherever you are," Sposato said. "Now, Flickr members can experience Picnik's photo-editing awesomeness firsthand without ever having to leave Flickr. We already love seeing what our users can do, and we know that combining powerful, intuitive photo editing with Flickr's photo sharing community will encourage even greater creativity and expression!"

The release said Picnik's editing tools are now available on the "edit photo" tab within Flickr. Users with premium Flickr memberships can use Picnik's "Perfect Memory" feature allowing them to undo or redo edits.

Picnik's tools will be available in English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Korean and Chinese.

I'm not a big Flickr user but this seems to be Yahoo's way of shoring up its editing features that lag behind Google's Picasa. Picasa, in turn, has been building up the community features where Flickr is stronger.

Comments | Category: Startups , Yahoo! |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 27, 2007 3:06 PM

Yahoo cutting the ribbon in Quincy

Posted by Brier Dudley

Can you buy tire chains in Sunnyvale?

Yahoo executives may need them next week, when they're trekking to Quincy for the grand opening of the company's new datacenter.

It's the first one Yahoo has built from the ground up and one of several taking advantage of the area's cheap hydropower and fast Internet connections.

Co-founder David Filo and operations VP Kevin Timmons will cut the ribbon Dec. 3 at a ceremony with local officials.

I wonder if they'll use the facility to power a data storage service, a mandatory part of every Internet giant's online suite nowadays.

Some may see that as playing catch-up to Microsoft, AOL and nearly 100 startups, but others might see it as a brilliant move to "accelerate a shift to Web-based computing and intensify the Internet company's competition with Microsoft Corp."

Comments | Category: Yahoo! |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

October 19, 2007 10:04 AM

Yahoo finally confirms plan: It's going big in Bellevue

Posted by Brier Dudley

Sometimes tech companies open little satellite offices because they recruited a hotshot who doesn't want to move to the mother ship.

On the surface, it looks like Yahoo did that when it hired Dave Sobeski away from Microsoft last November and set him up in a Bellevue office.

It also seems like a Googlesque tactic to lure more talent from Microsoft.

But Sobeski, while finally confirming today the company's expansion here in the Puget Sound region, said there's much more to the story.

Yahoo's going big in Bellevue, where it will work on one of the three pillars of the company's new strategy, according to Sobeski, senior vice president of platforms and architecture:

"We want to build a big presence up here. We want to be one of the top employers up here and have people excited about Yahoo up here."

Sobeski wouldn't provide growth projections, but he confirmed that the 115,000 square feet on three floors that the company leased in the One Twelfth@Twelfth building can accommodate 500 to 600 people:

"We wanted to ensure we had space to grow. We'll figure out how to grow it and what the plan will be.''

What will the office be like two years from now?

"We should be able to grow that talent pool rather rapidly.''

Yahoo now has about 50 employees in another floor, while the former Nortel Networks space it leased are given the funky Yahoo touch. "We are Yahooizing the workspace," Sobeski said.

Those 50 employees mostly come from a previous Seattle sales office and a small Eastside data-mining company that Yahoo acquired.

Sobeski said he's hearing from former co-workers at Microsoft, where he worked nearly 14 years on products ranging from Visual Basic and Internet Explorer to Windows Vista.

But he's also hoping to attract stars from Amazon.com, Adobe, the University of Washington and smaller companies in the area.

Exactly what he'll do in Bellevue is sort of secret, but Sobeski's enthusiastic about the opportunity to help further transform Yahoo into a platform for developers.

Sobeski noted that reaching out to developers is one of the major priorities outlined by Chief Executive Jerry Yang, along with serving as a great launching point for the Web and connecting advertisers and publishers.

From Sobeski:

"One of the things we definitely think about is how do we turn things into a platform, how do we go build that great ecosystem. You want to go build great software for your customer. How do you enable that? You enable that by allowing us to build that stuff but (also) by enabling third parties, publishers, to go build that stuff."

Yahoo can also do that by "having a platformy like guy like myself come in and say we definitely want to go look at everything we do and make sure we do it at great scale, we standardize it, we expose it to people ... getting that mentality throughout the company."

Will Yahoo provide hosted developer services similar to Amazon's Web Services? Sobeski's answer sounds like a strong maybe:

"We won't say no and we're not officialy saying yes but we believe it's interesting."

Bellevue should thank Sobeski's girlfriend, by the way.

When he was being recruited by Yahoo, he considered moving to its headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif., but he wanted to stay close to her. They've been together for four years and she has a good job at Microsoft, so he chose not to relocate.

But it turned out there were already people at Yahoo pushing to expand in the area.

"It wasn't actually me coming that got the ball rolling, there were other people that said hey, there's talent."

He reiterated that point several times: the main reason for a Bellevue office is to attract software developers who can help build the Yahoo platform:

"We're going to go build the right technologies up here and the right services. What is up here is just the talent that we care about, which is really technical people who can solve problems fast and efficiently. That's what you want."

Comments | Category: Yahoo! |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

October 11, 2007 4:20 PM

Yahoo's new storage platform, coming from Bellevue

Posted by Brier Dudley

At least that's what the job descriptions say.

Since May, Yahoo has been hiring software engineers for its new Bellevue office that was first reported here on Aug. 16.

Several more stories came out in September when Yahoo signed preliminary papers leasing the 500- to 600-person office and its plans became fairly well known in the community. But now there's another blip of news as the lease has been finalized.

Yahoo's PR department has been coy about its plans, but its HR side has been more forthright.

To fill its digs in the One Twelfth @ Twelfth building, Yahoo has been looking since May for software engineers "to join the team building the framework for the next generation of Yahoo!'s internet platform,'' one job listing says.

Another listing, for a software development engineer in "Tech Yahoo," details a project that will be done in Bellevue. Here it is, with the original capitalizations:

"The Query and Storage platform team with DataOS is building World class products to support high performance next generation Database technologies to store and query Peta bytes of data and tables with trillions of rows. The project involves architecture, design, software development, quality assurance, performance and reliability evaluation of such systems."

As pat of the "storage system development team," these engineers will "design and implement high performance distributed storage platform" and "maintain and improve existing storage system technologies to meet the needs of exponential growth in data."

Yahoo could also use the location to diversify into outdoor display advertising, since the company can hang a sign on the building that will be visible from I-405 on the edge of downtown Bellevue.

The previous tenant, Nortel Networks, cut back after leasing the big space during telecom's heady dotcom days.

Comments | Category: Yahoo! |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

August 16, 2007 12:01 AM

Google leasing Kirkland campus, next Yahoo?

Posted by Brier Dudley

The big fish are being reeled in on the Eastside.

Google has signed a lease for a three-building office campus that's under construction in Kirkland, not too far from the company's current offices near the city's main post office.

"The greater Seattle area is of great significance to us as a base for recruiting, as a home to our current employees and we're looking forward to having a greater number of future employees there, as well as having customers, partners and of course users in the area,'' spokesman Jon Murchinson said. "So, as we are a rapidly growing company, we're taking advantage of this opportunity to acquire more space in Kirkland."

The deal ends years of suspense - in tech and commercial real estate circles, at least - about where the search giant would choose to expand in the Puget Sound region. That is, until they start speculating about if and where Google will expand on the Seattle side of Lake Washington.

In May Google expanded its base in Fremont, adding room for 240 engineers in addition to a 30-person sales office.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company earlier considered buildings in Bellevue and even the Safeco tower near the University of Washington.

Google started in Kirkland in 2004 with a few engineers and now employs about 400 who are sprawling into an adjacent building. They include veterans of Microsoft, Amazon.com and other local companies, as well as recruits who opt to live in the Northwest.

The company is notoriously secretive about growth plans, but one of the local engineering bosses, Shiva Shivakumar, told me in June that its Seattle area offices should employ several thousand people within a few years.

In Kirkland, construction has started on the campus at 747 Sixth Street South.The site used to be called the Sedorco property for a door company that used to be on the property but city planning documents at one point call it the "Campus at Kirkland."

As approved, the site has three buildings totaling 180,000 square feet and parking for 640 cars.

But that's not all.

Sources who tipped me off to the Google deal mentioned that another Silicon Valley biggie is shopping for space on the Eastside, specifically downtown Bellevue.

Yahoo! is looking to open a large office - around 120,000 square feet, the source said - giving the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company its first major presence in Seattle. The company now has a very small sales office, as well as server facilities in Eastern Washington.

A Yahoo! spokeswoman wouldn't confirm or deny this, but made it clear the company is interested in places with a lot of tech talent.

"We're always looking to diversify our real estate portfolio and we want to be where the most talented people are,'' Helena Maus said. "I wouldn't say much more."

I will, though. If a Yahoo! deal pans out it would give the region a search trifecta, with all three top players in the area.

Then it wouldn't matter quite so much, from an economic development prespective at least, who wins the battle for online ad dominance.

(I've updated this with a more specific address and a map link)

(Update 2: Here are links to Kirkland's development activity report, which mentions the Sedorco project with 180,000 feet of office space. The initial permit was for 180,000 feet, but another permit for related garages mentions 192,000 feet.)

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May 24, 2007 2:07 PM

Seattle's Eyejot faces off against Google, Microsoft

Posted by Brier Dudley

In Cnet's Webware 100 contest, that is.

Eyejot, a Pioneer Square startup offering a service for sending video messages as if they were e-mail, is a finalist in the communication category.

Its competition for the award looks tough -- in addition to various Web 2.0 startups, the contenders include Google Talk, Gmail, Skype, Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail and Messenger.

They're among 250 finalists chosen from 5,000 entries. Vote on your favorites here; winners will be announced June 18.

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May 14, 2007 11:42 AM

More from Yahoo! news boss

Posted by Brier Dudley

When I interviewed Scott Moore last month, I was planning to write about his big influence on the news business and perspective on the different cultures at Microsoft and Yahoo!

Moore's a key player in the current transformation of the news business. He's experimenting with new formats at Yahoo! and forming partnerships with publishers and wire services to add their content to Yahoo!, offering exposure and traffic from a site that's reaching 20 percent of all Internet news consumers.

Then the Microsoft-Yahoo! merger rumors surfaced, so I shuffled things around in today's column.

Moore was one of the first Microsoft managers I interviewed when I started covering the company, and he was running MSN operations such as Slate and MSNBC.com.

He moved to Yahoo!'s media offices in Santa Monica, Calif., two years ago but still comes back to Seattle a lot to visit family here.

He's also one of the rare Internet news executives who is enthusiastic about newspapers. I asked if he thinks papers will be dead in five years. His answer:

"No. There will be more consolidation that happens but most newspapers have a good long life ahead of them. ... Local newspapers may get a lot more competition than they've had over the last 30 or 40 years. Local newspapers in most markets, they've enjoyed a pretty good run without a lot of heavy duty competition. I think that part is changing.

I think the unfortunate thing about the newspaper business today is that maybe the valuations on Wall Street got ahead of themselves and the ownership of newspapers went away from what it had traditionally been -- which in many cases was local families who had a stake in the community and owned the local newspaper because they cared about journalism and about the community and really saw it as a sort of public trust. The industry got away from that. That probably hasn't been a healthy trend. To the extent that that could change, that might be good for newspapers."

With or without Moore, news is a big business around here. Seattle has an unusual concentration of online ventures -- such as Newsvine, NewsCloud and Crosscut -- that are experimenting with different approaches to publishing and competing with old media and Yahoo!

Even though it's not doing things like Slate and Sidewalk anymore, Microsoft is also a huge influence on the news business with MSN, Live.com, MSNBC.com and new content display and ad serving technologies it's developing.

Despite Moore's sympathy toward newspapers, I am nervous about the way his company and others are moving into more direct competition by stepping up efforts to sell local advertising. Moore's group is taking cues from newspapers, adding more local content that it gets for free via RSS. It's also adding event and entertainment listings and prep sports news gathered by a network of freelancers.

I also wonder if newspapers are making smart deals when they trade or give away valuable content in return for the promise of traffic.

What good is a link to the original material, if readers have already digested the gist of the story somewhere else? In newsrooms, we've been hearing for years that readers are busy and want more short tidbits and summaries they can consume on the fly. So why are papers giving that stuff to competitors?

Formal licensing deals with companies like Yahoo! seem more fair than the approach of Web 2.0 sites that simply scrape and summarize other people's news stories, offering only a link in return.

Yahoo! is actually using both approaches, licensing content from wire services and using content that newspapers give away. Said Moore:

"Instead of going out and licensing a bunch of content we just took RSS feeds from as many news providers as we could find and sucked them into yahoo news as headlines. When you click on the headline you go straight to that provider. There's no licensing or money transfer in that case -- we're sending them traffic. It's growing and growing; it's millions of clicks a month coming right off of Yahoo! News.''

Moore has been experimenting with stuff for years. In the 1990s, while at MSN, he negotiated contracts with newspapers to get local content for MSNBC.com, but it never really took off, he said:

"I don't think MSNBC ever did a good job of showcasing it or merchandising it to the audience. That approach was kind a Web 1.0 approach, if you will -- we licensed the content, posted it on our servers, sold the ads, controlled the experience."

Yahoo! is also an interesting contrast with Google. The former still uses editors to manage the quality of its news site, while Google relies on algorithms to select and rank news stories. Moore also has some issues with his competitors' approach (of course):

"For me the challenge with Google News, while I admire it from a technology standpoint, I've had times when I see a headline, about say a story in Kentucky, I click the link and I'm shot off to a completely different place. I'm on some random news site in India. It's not really a cohesive news experience from sources that you know and trust. It has its place but it's not for the mainstream news user.''

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May 4, 2007 5:50 PM

Microsoft merging with Yahoo!?!#@!!!

Posted by Brier Dudley

The New York Post owes everyone a good follow-up story.

You can't just drop a bombshell that jerks around 80,000 Microsoft and Yahoo! employees, rocks Wall Street and then fizzles before the day is over.

The Post should investigate -- and report -- whether its anonymous investment banker sources made any money off the huge run in YHOO caused by its story.

If the Post doesn't do this, the SEC might. We don't need any more reporter subpoenas.

At the very least, the Post needs to go back to its sources and clarify if and when Microsoft and Yahoo! ended their latest round of merger discussions.

Did the talks end sometime Friday, after the Post story boosted YHOO?

Were the talks already tapering off by the time the investment bankers whispered to the Post? Perhaps the companies had gone from talking merger to talking strategic partnership -- an outcome that would involve fewer banking fees.

Could those banking sources be trying to curry favor with hedge funds by playing games with YHOO?

I don't mean to bash the Post's reporting. It's obviously got more sources on Wall Street than I do, and it's been right several times with "talks pending" stories involving Microsoft, Google, AOL and eBay.

But now we're all waiting for the follow-up. Until then, it's ammunition for the old-media bashers who say we never get anything right.

In the meantime, it's fun to speculate on all the reasons why Microsoft should or shouldn't hook up with Yahoo!

I'm nursing about 30 different theories.

I wonder if the Post was correct in reporting that "Microsoft has intensified its pursuit of a deal with Yahoo!, asking the company to re-enter formal negotiations," but a full-blown merger wasn't ever in the cards.

Is Microsoft really so blinded by the war on Google that it would put all its chips into what's mostly a play for online advertising -- a challenging, cyclical business that will suffer if the economy turns south?

Was Microsoft floating a merger to start a discussion in hopes of walking away with a joint-operating agreement that would cement its alliance against Google?
Microsoft may want a JOA to prevent Yahoo! from hooking up with Skype on a new wireless broadband network, a possibility floated this week by Business Week.

The prospect of a Yahoo!-eBay-Skype VOIP/Wireless service challenging Microsoft's messaging and communication efforts seems like a bigger long-term threat than Google buying DoubleClick.

Another interesting follow-up story may be to explore how much Steve Ballmer and Terry Semel are personally interested in a blockbuster deal. Before Microsoft's last quarter, at least, there were some frustrated Wall Street types calling for their heads.

Maybe Microsoft was just drumming up interest in its Strategic Advertising Summit next week, which will have both Semel and Bill Gates speaking in Seattle.

UPDATE: The Post did run a follow story on Saturday but it didn't say anything about the sources' motivation. It did water down the Friday story, though, with sources saying "the talks with Microsoft are wide-ranging and include everything from an outright acquisition to the purchase of an equity stake to a joint venture setup."

Saturday's story also mentions that other companies are talking to Yahoo! including NBC, Comcast and AT&T, so who knows where it will end up.

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May 3, 2007 2:44 PM

Yahoo! boss coming to Seattle for Microsoft shindig

Posted by Brier Dudley

Mary Jo Foley jokingly revived the Microsoft-Yahoo! merger speculation today by noting that Terry Semel is a keynote speaker at Microsoft's Strategic Account Summit, an advertising schmoozathon the company is holding next week in Seattle.

Semel's giving an "industry report" on Wednesday, then doing a Q&A with MSN veep Joanne Bradford. Bill Gates speaks to the group Tuesday.

Semel will probably yack with Microsoft biggies during his visit, but a summit appearance doesn't necessarily mean a merger is in the works -- two years ago, Microsoft's featured speaker was Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and Semel spoke in 2004.

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April 2, 2007 1:05 PM

Is Oracle keeping Yahoo! and Microsoft apart?

Posted by Brier Dudley

I wonder if the real reason Microsoft and Yahoo! have been unable to pull off a merger is because it would complicate things at home for Yahoo! Chief Executive Terry Semel.

Semel has become neighbors with Oracle founder and Microsoft nemesis Larry Ellison, who is buying up land in Semel's exclusive Malibu neighborhood, according to a great gossip piece in the NYT.

Among the tidbits: Ellison may be developing a spot in the neighborhood for a Nobu outpost with an indoor tidepool.

If Semel hooked up with Microsoft, he'd probably always get stuck at a table by the restrooms.

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April 2, 2007 11:55 AM

Extreme news from Yahoo! - the future of media?

Posted by Brier Dudley

First online news sites went after traditional news. Now they're squaring off against the alternative press (and MTV).

Check out Underground, a new channel just launched by Yahoo! News.

It has news content - including a prominent list of offbeat stories - but it's more like a mashup of Yahoo products presented in a social networking format with edgy graphics, tons of links and interactivity features. (It also takes the company's punctuation fetish! to extreme levels.)

It's what you get when a creative media company culls the most compelling features of top online destinations, assembles them in a catchy package targeting an ad-friendly demographic, then serves up a blend of community input and original, professional content.

For content, Underground revisits the roaming journalist thing that Yahoo tried two years ago with war correspondent Kevin Sites.

This time the talent's Brad Miskell, a funkster exploring fringe culture and composing original music to go with his stories.

I think it's great the company's investing in content, instead of trying to get free content from users or scrape items from other sites. But I wonder how long Miskell or any one personality will keep people coming back, especially the fickle 14- to 28-year-olds they seem to be aiming for with Underground.

Meanwhile, Microsoft's MSNBC.com is trying to kick it up with its first branding campaign since the site launched in 1996.

The campaign includes print, online and TV ads highlighting its new tagline, "A Fuller Spectrum of News."

It's definitely going after a different audience than Underground.

As part of the marketing push, MSNBC.com is giving away a screensaver that displays headlines delivered by RSS.

It also hired Canadian marketing and game development firm Fuel Industries to create an online game called "NewsBreaker" that will also be played live with audiences in movie theaters in May and June in Los Angeles, Philadelphia and White Plains, NY.

"The goal of the game, launching on April 13, is to accumulate points and knowledge by capturing headlines broken out of the MSNBC.com spectrum of stories,'' the release said.

The game might turn out to be cheesy and who knows what will happen with Underground, but why doesn't the newspaper industry try things like that?

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March 23, 2007 9:50 AM

Double (or triple) your return with Google options?

Posted by Brier Dudley

That's Merrill Lynch analyst Justin Post's latest advice to clients, with Google stock down a bit ahead of its April 19 earnings report:

"Investors can enhance returns to long stock positions by adding delta over the next month given our expectation that shares will trade up 10% by April 20th options expiry. We recommend adding an April 20th $460/$510 1x1 bull call spread to existing long positions. If the stock finishes between $490-$510 on April 20th the investor can yield a 9%-17% return vs. 3%-7% return for stock-only positions (based from last session's close)."

But what if Yahoo! really is making a dent in the juggernaut?

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March 7, 2007 3:13 PM

Quincy's boom, even before Microsoft and Yahoo!

Posted by Brier Dudley

The Wall Street Journal has a fun story today about the development going on in Quincy. It attributes the land rush to the datacenters that Microsoft, Yahoo! and Intuit are building there to take advantage of cheap power and fiber optic lines.

Those companies are probably a great addition to Quincy, but the place was having a boom even before word got out about the datacenters. We covered the phenomenon in 2005, noting that wineries and the Gorge music venue are attracting Seattleites and other urban refugees.

The datacenters won't create that many permanent jobs, after the construction is done.

Microsoft's center is the biggest of the three, and it's adding perhaps 40 permanent jobs. If the other centers employ the same number, that's maybe 120 jobs -- hardly enough to fill the 1,000 new homes, hotel and strip mall that were mentioned in the Journal's story.

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February 14, 2007 4:39 PM

Microsoft's Valentine kiss from Yahoo!

Posted by Brier Dudley

Yahoo! added a new user feedback system called Suggestion Board.

What's a little unusual is that the company's official blog - Yodel Anecdotal -- graciously credited Microsoft with the "inspiration." In a post entitled "It takes two to tango," Yahoo! Autos senior engineering manager, Michael Olivier, tipped his hat to the MSDN feedback system he saw in the fall of 2005.

It's probably just good sportsmanship. But I'm sure curious about the relationship between those two companies, which seem a little friendly nowadays.

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December 6, 2006 11:27 AM

Yahoo!'s internal reorg email, sounds familiar

Posted by Brier Dudley

Valleywag posted the whole memo from Terry Semel.

An annotated excerpt:

We see a huge opportunity to leverage our size and scale, industry-leading sales team, and audience insights to become the premier advertising network, whether we are selling ads on or off Yahoo!-owned entities. ... No other company is as well positioned to achieve this goal because of our unmatched breadth of both customers and services.

Semel also posted a public note at the company's official blog. His best line: "Now, I know what you're thinking - this is all about peanut butter."

Clearing the fog by reorganizing into three groups. Where have I heard that before?

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November 27, 2006 5:06 PM

Yahoo CIO finally home from Wenatchee

Posted by Brier Dudley

Talk about getting stuck in holiday traffic. Yahoo!'s CIO just returned from trip to Wenatchee to cut the ribbon on his company's new datacenter -- on Nov. 16.

Lars Rabbe wrote up his experiences at the official Yahoo! blog.

"Now when you send an e-mail using Yahoo! Mail, there's a chance it could visit the Pacific Northwest before reaching its final destination,'' he wrote.

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October 11, 2006 10:41 AM

Yahoo's troubles sound familiar

Posted by Brier Dudley

Great New York Times piece on Yahoo! today, but I think I've read that story before.

Here's the template: Start with anecdote about glamorous new tech company outmaneuvering yesterday's Wall Street darling, then list the symptoms of age: the older company has become too big and bureacratic; its growth rate has slowed, its stock has fallen, recruiting is tougher and some notable employees are jumping ship.

I'm not trying to rip on the reporter -- I've written similar stories about Microsoft for years.

Stay tuned, Google will eventually start getting the treatment, probably by 2008.

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October 2, 2006 10:10 AM

Early days for online video

Posted by Brier Dudley

Kim Peterson has a nice story today on the nascent online video business.

All the big players are moving into online video, but it seems like nobody's figured out a way to make money beyond selling ads around the clips.

I thought Google had a great concept for a video store that would help content producers charge for their work. Larry Page made a big splash when he announced the venture at the Consumer Electronics Show CES last January, but it hasn't worked out as promised and today Google Video seems like a flop.

YouTube is the darling, but that could change soon. A Newsweek story raises questions about the legality of some of YouTube's content; it suggests that content owners will sue if YouTube is purchased by a deep-pocket company such as Microsoft or Yahoo!

Kim's story raises similar concerns. It quoted a Seattle band member who was concerned that someone posted a clip of the band playing a song it hadn't released publicly yet.

"It definitely raises issues about creatively letting the cat out of the bag," he said.

I think YouTube's going to fade as online video matures and people get more savvy about the value of their content. Instead of giving up their content rights in return for the exposure of YouTube's platform, people are going to want more control and more money for their work. Maybe then Google or someone else offering a video marketplace -- instead of a free for all -- will move ahead.

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September 19, 2006 12:56 PM

Blodget's spooky Google and Yahoo! outlook

Posted by Brier Dudley

If I was an investor in Internet stocks, I'd be a little nervous after today's warning from Yahoo!

Henry Blodget's post called it the company's third-quarter "wilt" and said even the almighty Google will suffer if the economy weakens and advertising slows.

Lots of other investors are thinking that way, apparently. At last check, Google was down nearly $11 and Yahoo! was down $3.

A beneficiary could be Microsoft. It's up a bit today, probably because it seems like a safer bet now that Jim Allchin is saying Vista is "very close to being done."

After his legal takedown, the guy who famously predicted AMZN would hit $400 during the boom is no longer a Wall Street analyst. Instead Blodget does consulting and offers tart commentary on his blog.

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July 24, 2006 10:52 AM

Microsoft-Yahoo! column today

Posted by Brier Dudley

One thing I didn't have room to detail in today's column was the A-list talent that Gary Flake corralled for Live Labs. His team includes high-profile Microsoft researchers like Eric Horvitz and Jim Gray. Their presence indicates the company's high hopes for the venture.

Now I'll have to look into how Microsoft Research is being affected by spinoffs like Live Labs and adCenter Labs.

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July 18, 2006 4:49 PM

Yahoo! flickers on Wall Street

Posted by Brier Dudley

A weak quarterly report pushed YHOO down 14 percent, to $27.80, in extended trading today. The company said its profit was hurt by stock option expenses, and its new ad platform will be delayed until the fourth quarter.

I wonder how much Yahoo! is suffering from the loss of Microsoft business. Microsoft finally launched its own search ad platform in May, ending Yahoo!-powered advertising on its U.S. site.

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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.