Bloggers on the Microsoft-Yahoo nondeal.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
May 5 2008 5:57 PM

Deal, Er, No Deal

Bloggers dissect the Microsoft-Yahoo nondeal, mull over Eight Belles' Derby death, and discuss Obama's promise to the Teamsters.

Deal, er, no deal: Microsoft withdrew its much-ballyhooed bid to snap up Yahoo after a $5 billion increase failed to impress the dot-com company. Yahoo's stock took a significant hit Monday, while shares of rival Google rose.

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At the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Microsoft Blog Todd Bishop shares a Microsoft internal e-mail in which CEO Steve Ballmer declares, "Ultimately, our goal is to build the industry-leading business in search, online advertising, media, and social networking. Kevin Maney at Portfolio's Tech Observer sees software, Microsoft's bedrock, as conspicously and problematically absent in that trinity of goals: "The way to sell, deliver and monetize software may be changing, but the need for great software is only going to grow. Microsoft can't compete with Google in search because, maybe, it shouldn't be trying to. It should be able to kick Google's butt in delivering software for businesses and consumers -- IF Microsoft doesn't get distracted so it puts out products like Vista, which has made a lot of users unhappy."

Slate contributor Henry Blodget thinks that the deal was botched over more than just price disagreements, writing on Silicon Alley Insider: "The only chance a deal like this would have of working would be if both companies were completely committed to making it work. And it's hard to see how Steve ever would have gotten that level of enthusiasm from Yahoo--when Jerry, David, and the board have spent every waking minute for the past three months doing everything they could think of to avoid a fate they apparently considered worse than death: a Microsoft takeover."

What's the next step for Microsoft? Possibly investigating a buyout of Facebook, MySpace, or AOL, the last of which Valleywag's Nicholas Carlson thinks would be ill-considered: "(What, are they pulling for a Nsync reunion tour as well?) … But there's a reason AOL is cheap, people. Compete reports visits to AOL are down 21 percent in the last year. It's 'people count' dropped from 74 million to 60 million in the same time. Face it: AOL remains popular because old people in middle America are too lazy to change their default home page."

As for Yahoo's execs, Kara Swisher writes on BoomTown that "I have to say that your stock drop isn't the worst thing you will have to deal with this morning when you pull up at work. The worst? That'll be the very hairy eyeballs you will be getting from a lot more of your employees, who are scared silly and a lot peeved by the limb many feel you have dragged them and their stock options out onto."

Indeed, though Yahoo's stock sank, it wasn't by as much as many had predicted, leading TechCrunch's Erick Schonfeld to explain that "if the shares don't drop much further, that could mean Wall Street is still pricing in another takeover attempt from Microsoft or someone else, or perhaps a Google advertising deal."

Read more about the Microsoft/Yahoo fallout. In Slate, James Ledbetter writes that Yahoo goofed.

Derby downer: After Big Brown ran to victory in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, second-place horse Eight Belles (which Hillary Clinton picked to win) collapsed, having broken her two front ankles, and was euthanized. Bloggers argue over whether Thoroughbred racing constitutes animal cruelty and, sigh, hash out the political parallels.

Wayne Pacelle at A Humane Nation,the Humane Society's blog, argues  that whatever outrage Eight Belles' death evokes, it will be all too brief: "We'll say a few words about horse racing, as do the commentators and industry press, but we'll return to our priorities in a couple of days. But that's a mistake for us all. This industry has not had a rigorous critic to set it in the straight and narrow, and major problems have grown and festered." Meanwhile, PETA called for the Eight Belles' jockey to be suspended, prompting reader Ken Letizia at the Beefs to complain: "How ridiculous to blame the jockey for this horse's injuries.  Why would he deliberately kill his own bread and butter, his lively-hood ?... This is a sport, whether you agree with it or not, it is just that."

Parallels to the Democratic primary were drawn throughout the blogosphere, since, as D.C. bureau chief Toby Harnden on the Telegraph's blog noted,  "If Barack Obama was looking for a good omen at the end of a bad week, the outcome of yesterday's Kentucky Derby might have provided one." However,Slate's Mickey Kaus explains the mainstream media's surprising general abstention from the easy Hillary-Eight Belles comparison: "The Eight Belles Metaphor is so obvious that everyone is embarrassed to use it, figuring that everyone else is already using it—a thought born embalmed as a cliche, already tiresome from anticipated over-expression before being sincerely expressed in the first place."

Read more about Eight Belles' untimely demise.

Teaming up: The Wall Street Journal reports that the Teamsters' February endorsement of Barack Obama may not have been entirely pure of heart (a real, um, break with Teamsters tradition); rather, Obama reportedly made a back-room promise to end strict federal monitoring of corruption in the union, which has historical ties to the mob.

Greg Sargent at TPM Election Central reports that the Obama campaign said the candidate made public remarks on ending federal oversight in 2004 and that the WSJ "overplayed" its story for effect. Politico's Ben Smith features a sound clip he says proves Hillary Clinton shares the same position on the Teamsters and concludes, "This one will, I suspect, be used against either Democrat in the fall." (As a handy reference, at ABC News' Political Punch, Jake Tapper parses both Clinton and Obama's current declared positions on the Teamsters.)

On Hot Air, conservative Ed Morrissey contextualizes Obama's stance, saying that  "[t]his answer stands in stark contrast to Obama's response on the DC gun ban. When asked whether the city's outright ban on handguns was constitutional, the constitutional lawyer refused to take a position, claiming he had not read the briefs. Has he done any research on the Teamsters and the status of the oversight effort? Or does he have a different threshold when it comes to pandering to union bosses rather than gun owners?"

Liberal Mahablog is worked up over conservative coverage of what it considers an overblown issue: "In other words, reducing government supervision of the Teamsters is tantamount to 'looking the other way on the issue of corruption.' The Teamsters were corrupt in the past; therefore, they will always be corrupt. They are corrupt by definition. Funny Big Corporations and financial institutions are not held to the same standard, huh?"

Read more about Obama and the Teamsters.

Noreen Malone is a senior editor at New York magazine.