Thursday, May 11, 2006

Yahoo Laments Not Buying Google

Which wiseman says there is no new thing under the sun? The technology industry is full of dramas. Yahoo CEO laments not buying Google in 2001.
So Semel said he had dinner with Larry Page and Sergey Brin, asking them what their business was with Yahoo paying only $7 million annually as its biggest licensor of Google search technology.

"They had no thought process on the subject," Semel said in the conversation, which was posted online Thursday at the New Yorker Web site.

So Semel nevertheless asked to buy Google. They replied that they wanted $1 billion and didn't want to sell. Semel said he'd think about the price.

Another dinner and Semel agreed to the $1 billion. Larry and Sergey replied that they wanted $3 billion and didn't want to sell.

"I couldn't and didn't buy this company and the rest is history," Semel said, adding that it was also fortuitous because that harkened the birth of the search-advertising business.

However dramatic this is, it is not a new play. Jim Barksdale, CEO of Netscape, was said of missing the opportunity of buying Yahoo for $nM back in 1995(?) when Netscape gave the most popular search engines of the day free access to the Search button in the Netscape Navigator. Alledgedly Barksdale didn't want to compete with partners.

History repeats itself in a peculiar way. Are we so fundamentally different than the time of Solomon (~3000 years ago)?