The big boys want to get bigger

This news was almost inevitable:

Jerry Yang, the chief executive of Yahoo, was finishing a regularly scheduled company board meeting Thursday night when his assistant interrupted him with an urgent phone call.

It was Steven A. Ballmer, the chief executive of Microsoft, and his message was curt. He did not call to negotiate. Microsoft would make public a hostile $44.6 billion offer for Yahoo early Friday morning in a bold move to counter Google’s online pre-eminence.

Mr. Yang, in shock, rushed back with the news to his directors, some of whom were getting ready to leave Yahoo’s headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif. The board meeting was no longer over; it would turn into a strategy session that stretched into the night.

The global dominance of Google is undoubtedly a concern. The ability to control mountains of information in its own hands should constantly raise alarm bells.

The idea, however, of the internet market getting smaller is also a worry. Market consolidation, in a clear attempt to unseat Google’s reign, would only lessen transparency and result in information being “owned” by less players. Early reports suggest that regulators are unlikely to block a Yahoo/Microsoft marriage.

A monopoly of information should always be resisted and it’s hard to see this development any other way.

UPDATE: Some analysts are arguing that competition would in fact increase, not decrease, with this merger.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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