Twisting in the Wind

October 29, 2009

Nothing like knowing a unit of a big company is on the chopping block. I flashed back to a dinner with an azure chip consultant who spent time and energy explaining that was the next big thing in search. I listened and dismissed the fellow and his firm as a bag of goose feathers. (This is an option reserved for an addled goose.) I think that dinner was in 2006 and 2007, and has gone nowhere. According to this Reuters’ story (“Microsoft Seen as Diller’s Best Bet for”),’s optimistic owner may see Microsoft as the white knight for old service. What I also recalled upon reading this story was a statement by Jason Calacanis that a one percent share of a Web search market was worth a great deal of money. I think his assertion with a billion dollars per percentage point, but I may have that wrong.)
What I do know is that whoever buys is going to make it easy to calculate exactly how much a four percent share of the Web search market is worth. My thought is that four percent won’t amount too much because Web search share in and of itself is irrelevant. What makes Web search valuable is the monetization efficiency of that share. I am a simple goose and divide $22 billion by 80 percent and come up with an efficiency score. I can do more fancy math, but I don’t think numerical recipes will add a truckload of insight. If were pumping cash, would its owner hint that the property is for sale? Maybe? Maybe not?—no matter who owns it—is going to be a tough bird to fatten for Thanksgiving dinner. Will Microsoft buy After the stunning purchase of Fast Search & Transfer for $1.23 billion I would not be surprised if Microsoft cut down and carted the service back to Redmond.

Stephen Arnold, October 29, 2009


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