Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Memo to Jerry: Mark Cuban, Jethro Tull and Thee!

It’s clear that some Yahoos and its CEO and Co-Founder Jerry Yang have got to be a little more than miffed that billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban is on billionaire investor Carl Icahn’s board, as he begins a proxy fight for control of the troubled Internet company.


As BoomTown noted in a post yesterday, there is no love lost at Yahoo (YHOO) for Cuban (pictured here).

He sold the Web 1.0 star, Broadcast.com, for $5.7 billion in cash to Yahoo at the peak of the bubble in 1999, skedaddled quickly and then made bank by hedging his Yahoo shares and enjoying the proceeds extravagantly.

As one longtime Yahoo, who has left the company recently, emailed me in a typical sentiment: “You don’t even know how much they hate Cuban over there.”

Oh, I do.

But, while I get the emotional part, it is actually quite unfair realistically, given it was Yahoo that did precious little with Broadcast.com’s assets after paying so much for the company.

While that $5.7 billion was in inflated 1999 stock, Yahoo still had bought a lot of potentially good ideas and baby-step assets from Broadcast.com that it could have eventually parlayed into much more.

That’s because, though in its nascent stages, Broadcast.com was broadcasting live television events and had licensed television shows too.

In addition, it also had begun to put together capabilities to allow for the uploading of user-generated video, which YouTube later perfected.

While this was all relatively crude in today’s terms and timing is everything (who knows if Broadcast.com’s technologies would have worked right), it is yet another example of a soon-to-be-critical technology trend that Yahoo had a bead on early and then failed to capitalize on.

The same could be said of its mid-2003 acquisition of Overture, a start-up that pioneered text-based online ads and purchase that Yahoo did not take full advantage of until it was too late.

Of course, that was quite a whiff, since Google (GOOG) followed Yahoo into the business and, well, the rest is history.

Maybe Yahoo should get over its ire at Cuban and bring him back.

Considering a recent post by him on his Blog Maverick site, he sounds ready to go:

Is there anything more fun than sitting around, growing your hair, drinking a Bud while listening to Jethro Tull and pondering how to change the balance of power in the search world and unseat Google?”

How much would BoomTown pay to see Cuban and Yang doing that?



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There was a worry before I started this that I was going to burn every bridge I had. But I realize now that there are some bridges that are worth burning.

— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle