Can He Gatecrash Bill's Web Party? Jerry Yang ,Bill Gates ,Rupert Murdoch, Larry Page ,Jeff Bewkes

Daily Mail (London), February 15, 2008 | Go to article overview

Can He Gatecrash Bill's Web Party? Jerry Yang ,Bill Gates ,Rupert Murdoch, Larry Page ,Jeff Bewkes


Byline: Simon Duke

YOU have to admire Rupert Murdoch's chutzpah. No sooner has the mediabaron fulfilled a lifelong dream by swallowing the Wall Street Journal, he'sout on the prowl again.

This time the News Corp boss wants to get his claws into struggling internetportal Yahoo. Smelling blood, Murdoch is touting himself as a 'white knight' toYahoo founder and boss Jerry Yang, who's desperate to ward off the unwantedadvances of Microsoft.

But getting into bed with the voracious deal maker would be the ultimate inFaustian pacts for the geeky Yang and co-founder David Filo.

Over dinner in New York last week, Murdoch and right-hand man Peter Chernin areunderstood to have offered Yang an asset swap deal that the two have discusseda number of times over the past couple of years.

For handing over the wildly popular social networking site Myspace, other NewsCorp online assets and some cash, Murdoch would receive a 20pc stake in Yahoo.

From Murdoch's point of view, the deal would make eminent sense.

More traffic would go to News Corp's news sites, giving him a much bigger sliceof the online advertising pie -

to double to over [pounds sterling]40bn by the end of the decade.

More importantly, it would confer a market value of more than [pounds sterling]5bn to Myspace -a truly astonishing return on the [pounds sterling]290m Murdoch paid for the social networkingsite three years ago.

However brazen and audacious, the move nonetheless stands very little chance offinding favour with investors or Yang and Filo, who still control around 10pcof Yahoo.

'Such a deal is a long shot that is unlikely to win over Yahoo shareholders,'said Doug Mitchelson at Deutsche Bank. But there's a Machiavellian intent toMurdoch's move that goes far beyond News Corp's strategic needs; it's a classicspoiling ploy, aimed at ensuring that Bill Gates' Microsoft pays top dollar toget its hands on Yahoo..

There's little doubt that Microsoft's need is greater than News Corp's.

Although visitors to Microsoft websites, which include Hotmail, are second onlyto Google, it's a distant third place in the important search market. Search iswhere the real money is being made on the internet; advertisers are willing topay top fees for the information web search firms keep on their users, enablingthem to bombard them with highly targeted adverts. …

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