While the Times of London is reporting that Microsoft is close to announcing a Yahoo search aquisition at 20 billion with a slew of details suggesting they have a lot of inside information, Venture Beat is suggesting this might be a bogus report as they’ve been told by a key player in the deal, Ross Levinsohn, that he knows nothing of this. Although it’s possible Levinsohn is … covering for the deal it seems odd he’d issue a flat denial if there was something to the rumors.
My wild guess is that the Times had a hot tip about one of the dozens of potential deals that are surely percolating around Yahoo as the stock (and thus buyout value) dips to very low levels, and that they ran with it rather than spend much time researching. This has become a major pitfall of “real time” media, where there is increasing pressure to shoot first and hope your story is correct later. Another possibility is that this is a carefully contrived rumor to pump and dump the stock on Monday – without more denials this is likely to spike Yahoo a few bucks or even more Monday morning.
Disclosure: Long on Yahoo
Like most folks who spend a bit too much time online, it’s always odd trying to explain things to folks who … don’t have an online life outside of the weekly checking of the email or surfing for a cranberry recipe.
Over Thanksgiving in Minnesota I was asked to explain what Facebook was and got in some trouble for suggesting that it’s more of a “coastal thing” which was in fact probably wrong anyway but also seemed to imply the heartland wasn’t up to snuff on digital happenings. Interestingly though Craigslist was well known and loved by all even as the social networking tools were largely unrecognized.
I’ll definitely want to wait until next year to explain Twitter, but when I do I’ll have them read Tim O’Reilly‘s insightful post where I think he correctly observes that Twitter has moved from something that didn’t have obvious relevance or usefulness to an almost indispensable part of the work life of many onliners.
In some ways Twitter has replaced both email and blogging as the tool of choice for the digitally obsessed, and this has come about from it’s usefulness combined with the natural problems that have cropped up with email (spam, attachments, delays, lack of brevity, timing, etc, etc) and with blogging (surfing issues, navigation problems, wordiness, unequal playing fields, comment moderation, etc, etc.