Yahoo: Goodbye Bartz Hello Baidu or Apple

In yet another mystifying move, Yahoo’s board fired Carol Bartz and ended her three year tenure as CEO.  Over the last three years, Bartz has had to clean up after the less than stellar leadership of both Jerry Yang and Terry Semel led to revenue slowdowns, management bloat, product missteps, and who knows what else.

While I’m saddened to see Bartz go, I’m more aggravated by the ridiculous articles and blogs regarding Yahoo’s past, present, and future.  Note to the mainstream press…Yahoo IS NOT Google.  Yahoo is NOT Facebook.

Yahoo IS an Internet icon, a portal destination, an information and communications hub, and is chalk full of popular services and offerings.  Often seen as less innovative than Google, Yahoo has made meaningful contributions to Hadoop and has recently open sourced Traffic Server which was acquired as part of the Inktomi acquisition.

I see two paths for Yahoo; Baidu and Apple.

Baidu has grown into a formidable challenger to Google.  For Baidu to take the next step they must enter the Western marketplace and Yahoo would be the perfect vehicle to make this a reality.  A cash and talent infusion by Baidu would reinvigorate Yahoo giving it new life to innovate and disrupt its way to revenue growth.  It would also mean an end to Yahoo’s partnership with Microsoft (or would it) as well as new competitive efforts across traditional and mobile solutions.

Apple is a dominant force within the mobile/tablet community and Yahoo would make the perfect destination for their users.  With one brush of the pen, Yahoo would be folded under the Apple brand and would change the perception of Yahoo from old/dying to new/exciting.  Apple could use Yahoo as a platform for iCloud services and revamp Yahoo’s offerings to work seamlessly within iOS and OSX.  Additionally, Apple could use Yahoo to offer new and innovative Cloud services and accelerate the adoption of HTML5.

In the end, Bartz will come-up a winner in this mess as her honesty and toughness is refreshing.  However, the future for Yahoo may be bright as long as the Board realizes it’s time to turn the reigns over and sell the company.  Let’s hope they don’t turn down an offer like they had from Microsoft again and Yahoo finds a new home!

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Fun Alert: Insane 2011 Predictions That May Come True

Google Acquires Level 3 Communications

Really?  Forget net-neutrality, think fiber and capacity management.  Google gains a worldwide network and a host of services and options to redefine the Internet.  Google’s itching for another industry to transform, and the service provider market is ripe for the picking.  By streamlining processes, costs, and creating a true cloud, Google can change the game while laying the foundation for some incredible mobile products and services.

Apple Acquires Sony Corporation

Why?  How about content, home entertainment, consumer electronics, and more.  Imagine Sony TV’s pre-loaded with Apple TV or PS3 with an ‘Apple-like’ interface.  Apple would gain content via Sony Pictures, cameras, a massive distribution channel, and control of standards, patents, and more.  In the end, Apple would restore Sony to their former glory while drastically expanding their breadth and depth of products.

Cisco Acquires SAVVIS

Huh?  As Cisco is dead serious about the cloud and Infrastructure as a service, purchasing SAVVIS would give Cisco a ‘enterprise-class converged cloud solution.’  Plus, SAVVIS is a huge Cisco customer and early adopter, so Cisco wouldn’t’ need to swap out hardware as UCS is already in-play here.  Cisco gains data center expertise, IAAS, SAAS, Hosting, Content Management, and more while moving ever closer to end-customer and consumer.

Dell Acquires Brocade

Are you kidding me?  Dell needs an Ethernet and storage networking presence and they need it right now.  By purchasing Brocade and integrating their product sets, Dell can finally go toe-to-toe with HP and IBM.  Additionally, Foundry products finally get the sales and distribution channel they need to compete with Cisco, HP, and Juniper.  Dell would streamline manufacturing, sales, marketing, and more to create a viable alternative to HP’s growing ProCurve business.

Baidu Buys Yahoo

Never!  Baidu (the student) comes into the US Market flush with cash to buy Yahoo (the teacher).  Baidu would gain a US presence while putting their thumb in Google’s eye.  Yahoo gets an injection of cash and swagger, as they focus on platform services and open source projects.  Meanwhile, Microsoft quietly wins here as they continue to work with Yahoo/Baidu and expand their Chinese presence.

Huawei Buys Juniper

Come on?  Shunned by Dell, Juniper has little options as IBM refuses to enter the networking hardware business.  Huawei desperately wants to enter the North American Market, and Juniper’s name and mix of service provider and enterprise customers are just the ticket.  Huawei would quickly ramp up Juniper’s product line while introducing new lines of business including wireless carrier infrastructure, storage networking, and more.

Oracle Buys NetApp

Finally something we can agree on!  While Oracle/Sun have some amazing storage products, NetApp gives Oracle legitimate world-class storage solutions.  Oracle could leverage NetApp within their next generation ‘Exa’ products while refining how Oracle products perform on NetApp storage.  Meanwhile, Oracle/NetApp will make billions from FlexPods while moving closer to Cisco.

Defending Microsoft and Offering a Commentary on Google vs. China

Some of my closest friends and colleagues will find it ironic, yet again, that I am compelled to write a blog post defending Microsoft.  After all, I have been engaged in a computing project aimed at removing all commercial software from a computer’s image.  Alas, that is a different story, but I will happily report that there is definitely a bright light for technologists but not for the average Joe.

However, once again Microsoft is on the defensive about their products and policies.  As an example, let’s talk about Bing.  While Bing is an innovative “new” Internet search engine, analysts and writers are preoccupied by its position as the number two search engine in the market (including Yahoo).  Everyone wants to know how Microsoft is going to catch Google and become the number one search engine.  Why?  Does anyone think that Microsoft was going to catch Google overnight?  Does anyone believe that Internet search is capturing quality results across all the billions of pages on the Internet?  What about Facebook?

Internet search is destined to become like the Walkman™; supplanted by something more innovative and useful.  What!  Are you kidding me?  In the early days, Internet search was a battle of relevance and content.  Google won the initial search wars by creating an interface that was clean, fast, and was able to crawl a significantly larger percentage of the Internet.  Today, Internet search is filled with hundreds (millions) of pages ranked by relevance, key words, advertisements, and more.  Other than me, who flips to page 8 of their search results?  Furthermore, how many of us are surprised when a friend, stranger, etc. provides us with a new and exciting website on a topic you covet that you never new existed?  Unfortunately, the current paradigm forces us to re-visit the same set of websites over-and-over again while using search as more of a research or curiosity tool. 

In the end, Microsoft should be applauded for attempting to innovate in a space that has been virtually unchanged for years.  Instead, Microsoft is bombarded with the same old questions about Google’s search dominance.  Of course, I am not sure that the innovation will come from the likes of Microsoft or Google, but from the garages, dorm rooms, and coffee houses across the globe.  Does anyone remember a few years ago when Palm was all the rage?  How about MySpace?  Or, the fears that Apple was dying?  Do you remember your first slick Nokia Phone, where is it now?

On a side note, this is not a political blog, yet I feel compelled to comment about the Google vs. China Internet mess.  There are two very different sides to this story; business and personal.  On a business note, Google is an international business “baby” with limited experience and a certain naivety about how they deal with in-country and international laws.  China is a sovereign nation that has the ability to pass and enforce their own laws regardless of their political system.  If Google, or any corporation, does not like China’s laws, then leave.  Perhaps if the West was not so obsessed with spreadsheets and bottom-line results, then China would not be the manufacturing powerhouse and money making machine that they are today.  Microsoft is making the correct business decision by staying in China, offering an alternative, albeit censored, to Baidu.

On a personal note, I agree with Google’s moves as censorship has no place in today’s world.  Someday, people across the globe will rise up to this evil practice of censuring information for the good of controlling people.  However, doesn’t the mere presence of Internet companies such as Google or Microsoft offer people hope?  It certainly is a complicated issue as my prior statement alone causes conflict and contradiction.

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