Saturday, May 03, 2008 What Microsoft Will Buy Now

"In the course of this three-month business soap opera, a handful of other companies have been suggested as possible acquisition targets or partners for either Microsoft or Yahoo! TimeWarner would love to see a buyer for AOL, of course. Rupert Murdoch probably won't put up much of a fight for MySpace. With a $40 billion budget, Ballmer could make some hefty investments in a wide range of Internet companies.
And there should be plenty who will welcome the investment. Just in the past year, for instance, Microsoft bought search organization FAST, as well as Silicon Valley speech-recognition company TellMe. In both cases, the chief executives of those companies are now senior Microsoft executives. And in the case of TellMe, its co-founder, Mike McCue, feels the deal is giving his company a chance to take its technology to a wide audience.
Yahoo!'s Jerry Yang, by contrast, will have a lot of cleaning up to do. He may spend time Monday fielding calls from grumpy shareholders who were looking forward to the chance to cash in some of their stock holdings. Instead, they will likely see the value of those portfolios sink--Yahoo!'s share price is likely to slide back toward the $20-per-share value it had before Microsoft's bid.
Equally important:Yang will have to pick up where he left off late last year in trying to convince both employees and partners that Yahoo! has a strong plan for the future, and that may be trickier than ever. As part of Yahoo!'s effort to wiggle out of Microsoft's grasp, the company has inched closer to Google (nasdaq: GOOG - news - people ), cooperating in a test to see what would happen if Google took over a portion of its keyword-based advertising program."

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