Following a video keynote from Nick Carr, author of The Big Switch, Kevin Ryan put the following questions to the panel:
What do you think about MS offer for Yahoo!? - Paul Doleman, Head of Paid Search & CTO, iCrossing (former Microsoft) - At last, but not really competition for Google. Erica Schmidt, Global Director of Search, Isobar - Great - good for competition and good for the consumer, after previous missteps by Microsoft and Yahoo! Think Yahoo! is making a mistake by not taking this offer. Not sure it will happen. There is a real culture clash - Yang and Balmer are so different - with MS being the dinosaur. Bryan Eisenberg, Co-Founder, Future Now - Microsoft became aware of the concept of duality, that there will be a top two, not three. Other issues - will the cultures ever work together. Steven Kaufman - SVP Media Director, Digitas - Wow. How's it going to impact the search world - but now see it as having a much broader impact. Mike Grehan, SES London,CEO Searchvisibile, Ltd. - What does it mean to marketers? Both serve up ads, but the business models are very different. And both are no strangers to M&A - why can't they make it work?
Has Yahoo! ceded defeat in search? Bryan - Yahoo! has not conceded defeat but loss of dominance, yes. Steven - Still have some dominance in certain markets. Paul - i don't think they've given up on it. Leaders can change (MySpace vs. Facebook). Erica -MSN and Yahoo! can give good value. Bryan - They do have global reach. And don't forget, there have been leaders of search in the past. What we'll see in the future is getting on the phone and saying "Where's the best Mexican close to hear and getting results.
Questions from the audience:
- Don't forget about other sources and services (Fox, etc.)
- Privacy - Most people trust Yahoo! more than Google.
- The stock market has looked at the offer, and has weighed in negatively. Could MS have spent its money more wisely?
- If it goes through, what do you (the panel) see happening?
- Will one of the implications of them coming together be a change in commission structure (in the UK)?
- Can search be too personal?
We'll wait and see . . .