Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Yahoo and Facebook Not in Search Alliance Discussions

Yahoo and Facebook are not currently in talks about forming a search alliance or building a search engine together, according to my sources, who scoffed about such a deal reported in a thinner-than-tissue-paper post by the Telegraph earlier today.

In addition, Yahoo is not anywhere near ending its search partnership with Microsoft, although new CEO Marissa Mayer has been in touch with the software giant about improving performance that has been less than lackluster over the course of its history so far.

Despite this, it would be nearly impossible for Yahoo to extricate itself from the long-term contract easily — though there are certain, but very difficult, outs. But sources tell me Microsoft would fight any attempt to end it earlier.

Thus, while Yahoo and Facebook have had a very good relationship of late, after the pair stopped warring over patents, and have also had success with its various sharing initiatives, a substantive search collaboration is not now in the mix.

Could the pair do more in terms of sharing among its users? Sure! Could they more tightly integrate services? Yep! Could they do something jointly related to advertising? Why not! But will they build a search engine together? Not likely.

Indeed, I am not even sure what such a thing means, since it would now be nearly impossible to execute, given Yahoo has outsourced its core search technology long ago to Microsoft and has been largely focused on improving search experience since then.

Of course, it’s no secret that Facebook is likely to enter the search arena in a more substantive manner in the future — CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has said so publicly — because people expect a better experience and users have been asking for years for improvements.

So watch that space, for certain, as it could also be very lucrative for the company and perhaps give search leader Google a bit more of a race.

But the social networking site is likely to work on its own in such an effort — as well as approach the space in much different ways. Hooking up with Yahoo would bring it almost nothing it might need to make it a success.

There are some interesting what-ifs to ponder with the idea of Microsoft, Facebook and Yahoo forming some kind of Avengers-style effort to battle Google, especially if it had a mobile element. But that’s the movie version at this moment.

(Speaking of movies, I am sorry it took me so long to get to this, but I was seeing the final “Twilight” with some All Things Digital staffers. I can report that the sparkly vampires of the film are also not in search alliance talks with Facebook.)

One unusual phrase in the Telegraph article did catch my eye though, which noted that “board members expect the talks to lead to much more substantial collaboration based around Web-based search.”

Such a Facebook search tie-up rumor would certainly do wonders for a Yahoo stock pop tomorrow for all the hedge funds now piling into the Silicon Valley Internet giant, would that it were so.

But it’s not.

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google