Google and Yahoo: Alleged Conspirators

July 15, 2008

Marketwatch reported that Brad Smith, a Microsoft executive, asserted that Mountain View’s most interesting search companies conspired against the Redmond giant. The venue was a hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. The scope of hearings begins with one issue and then wanders to and fro.

Jeffry Bartash wrote “Microsoft Takes Aim at Yahoo CEO”, and you should read the full story here. The Joseph Weisenthal reported about the hearing in which the assertion was made. You can find the gory details via PaidContent.org on the Washington Post’s Web site here. Both write ups agree on the escalating war of words in the Microsoft-Yahoo matter. You can find other summaries of the hearing in Google News and news aggregator sites.

The most interesting comment to me about this war of words comes from Mr. Bartash:

One thing that seems clear is that the traditional corpus of antitrust law isn’t well suited for this market.

Yes, and that’s why nothing particularly constructive or informed will come from high-tech companies’s executives, lawyers, and elected officials mixing it up in a cavernous room with aides passing notes, photographers crawling on their knees, and the Senate elite asking questions prepared by an group of 20-somethings with Potomac fever.

Assume that the hearing results in a decision that triggers a legal matter. The outcome enters the unusual world of litigation. Normal rules don’t apply, and the decision can often baffle those involved in the process.

I like Microsoft’s approach. Cut through the technology, the talk of online ad methodology, and marketing. The accusation, if indeed a real accusation, simplifies Microsoft’s position. Making something simple is a key skill. In my view, Microsoft has seized the high ground. Now Google and Yahoo have to take the hill.

Stephen Arnold, July 15, 2008

Update: July 15, 2008, 5 pm: My news reader cheerfully delivered Erick Schonfeld’s “Google’s Talking Points for Today’s Antitrust hearings”: The Only¬† One Who Won’t Like Our Yahoo Deal Is Microsoft”. Pretty useful information because TechCrunch provides an insight into Google’s attitude. The comments to the base essay are also helpful. I liked SteveR’s comment that Microsoft is now on the flip side of “an anti trust case”.

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