Yahoo honcho Terry Semel spoke to media executives yesterday and waxed more voluble than was strictly comfortable for Microsoft. Aline van Duyn reports in the Financial Times:
Terry Semel, chairman and chief executive of Yahoo, said on Wednesday he had turned down an offer from Microsoft to buy a stake in Yahoo’s search business and that discussions about Bill Gates’ software group acquiring the company had not taken place.
“Microsoft taking over Yahoo – that conversation has never come up,” Mr Semel said at a talk organised by the Newhouse communications school of Syracuse University. “[We discussed] search, and Microsoft co-owning some of our search. I will not sell a piece of search – it is like selling your right arm while keeping your left; it does not make any sense.”
MSN plans a search service aimed at capturing some of the billions of dollars of search advertising generated by Google and Yahoo. Google dominates the market, which has become the biggest source of revenue for internet advertising.
“My impartial advice to Microsoft is that you have no chance,” Mr Semel said. “The search business has been formed.”
I’d put more faith in his oracular powers if he hadn’t gone on to tout “people answering questions rather than electronic searches” as a possible next big thing in the search business.