Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

While Ballmer and Yang Fiddle, Web 2.0 Hotties Burn…

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Who’ll get Digg? (Odds-on favorite and sources tell me much sooner than later: Google.)

And who might make a bid for Slide, RockYou, LinkedIn, Meebo or imeem? (It might be smart for News Corp. [NWS] to double down in the social- networking space, if it can’t trade MySpace for a piece of Yahoo.)

And what about a plethora of really useful and interesting small start-ups all over Silicon Valley and elsewhere that are going to have to eventually find safe harbors when this Web 2.0 thing cools off, as it inevitably will. (AOL [TWX], Amazon [AMZN], eBay [EBAY] and, again, Google [GOOG], are natural choices.)

But not Microsoft (MSFT) or Yahoo (YHOO) if they persist in competing in this endless geek cage-match for too long.

Yesterday, more blustering bluster from Microsoft when it said, during its quarterly conference call, that it would not pay more to acquire Yahoo and might very well walk away from the deal.

My advice: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer should stop talking and start walking. If not, pay up and finish the deal.

And Yahoo’s CEO Jerry Yang should cooperate and stop its now-tiresome posturing (we get it, it’s worth more!).

Why?

Well, while the pair remained locked in mortal combat, a status that will continue if they actually do manage to unite and have to then conduct a doubtlessly slow-moving merger, their main rival Google and others are the likeliest to benefit every day this drags on.

Right after Microsoft made its unsolicited for Yahoo in February and it was quickly rebuffed, BoomTown suggested in a post that the software giant move on quickly and use its tens of billions to buy up the choicest and most innovative companies in the digital space.

What I wrote then bears repeating:

And what are the other options Microsoft might have that are actually better than scooping up Yahoo, especially to serve its Captain-Ahab obsession with harpooning the Great White Whale of Google?

If that is the actual goal, then many point out that a Yahoo win does not really frighten Google all that much, since the search giant has done just fine competing against both already.

In addition, many noted that a union of the pair, which would distract both Yahoo and Microsoft, might not be the magic bullet needed to fell Google from its high perch. And then what?

One idea I have heard, for example, was that Microsoft take its $44.6 billion in cash and stock it plans on spending on Yahoo and go on a shopping spree of the Web 2.0 companies all around Silicon Valley and all over.

And not just a few–lots and lots of them. And, more than one person suggested, it should start with Facebook, even at that wacky $15 billion valuation that Microsoft itself validated when it invested $240 million in the social-networking site recently.

“So what if it is only worth $10 billion or even less,” said one person. “They could lose a lot more on the risk of buying Yahoo.”

With the $30 billion left over, it could be like Christmas in July for the geeks and venture firms of Silicon Valley. But Microsoft could scoop up a lot of good stuff, even if prices are high.

Here’s a list: LinkedIn. Digg. Flixster. Slide or RockYou. Veoh. WordPress. Sphere. Sugar. Some international stuff. And more.

Then, some noted, Microsoft would have to give massive financial incentives to those entrepreneurs to stay and thrive. Most importantly, it would have to keep its Redmond hands from interfering.

Now that would send shivers up the spine of [Google's] Larry and Sergey.”

It still would. So maybe, as it has threatened yesterday, Microsoft should run and not walk.

Please see this disclosure related to me and Google.


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus