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Buyer Beware

Interesting post on Tech Crunch regarding the difficulties entrenched players have with new markets/ technology - especially if the new markets/ technology cannibalizes some or all of their existing businesses. As part of an organization owned by a newspaper consortium, we deal with this every day.

In any event, reading the TechCrunch article made me want to expand on my previous post commenting on the recent Wired news story. My post wasn't meant to be a crack at Yahoo!. Quite the opposite. In certain situations the realities of the world won't allow an acquisition be successful.

Acquisitions are hard. Integrations are even harder.

In the internet world, I view acquisitions as an opportunity to buy revenue, technology or audience - or some combination of the three. For technology companies, technology acquisitions can be the trickiest. Revenue acquisitions stand on their own merit - and audience acquisitions are often treated similarly. With these, the focus can be on synergy - pouring traffic on a site, leveraging salesforeces, marketing campaigns, etc.

But technology acquisitions? Oy. In the case of Yahoo and Google, would you want to be the one who had to tell the team of Yahoo! engineers that they just bought their competitors (who make little to no money) for $5 billion, rather than using that money to build something themselves? And even once you have that conversation, good luck getting the new guys and the old guys to eat beans and weenies together at the company picnic. There are too many egos, too much NIH to allow these to be successful very often.

And that's my guess what would have happened had they done that deal. Yahoo was the entrenched company. They were the number one site on the net. They were making money. They buy Google there is no way they let those punks tell them how to run their business. And so they don't. And you end up with something that looks nothing like Google looks today.

The interesting question is who would have come along to fill the gap in the market place had things happened like that.....


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