Microsoft Retreats or Withdrawls, Depends on Your View

Microsoft announced its plan to withdraw its proposal to acquire Yahoo! today.

This is a strange, and somewhat unexpected turn of events in the ongoing Microhoo saga.

In a letter, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer stated:

“We continue to believe that our proposed acquisition made sense for
Microsoft, Yahoo! and the market as a whole. Our goal in pursuing a
combination with Yahoo! was to provide greater choice and innovation in the
marketplace and create real value for our respective stockholders and
employees.”

The reason that Ballmer gave for the withdraw was:

“Despite our best efforts, including raising our bid by roughly $5
billion, Yahoo! has not moved toward accepting our offer. After careful
consideration, we believe the economics demanded by Yahoo! do not make
sense for us, and it is in the best interests of Microsoft stockholders,
employees and other stakeholders to withdraw our proposal.”

Microsoft Raises Yahoo Bid

Well, that SOMETHING has finally happened, but no one is really willing to be much more specific than that. However, anonymous sources who apparently don’t know enough to give a hard number (or don’t want to get in trouble) say that Microsoft has increased its bid for Yahoo.

The AP reports that Microsoft’s price will now exceed its original offer of $44.6 billion ($31/share). Microsoft had lowered the offer to $42.4 billion, and its exact value has fluctuated with stock prices. However, Yahoo stockholders were rumored to be holding out for at least $35/share. Analysts have long predicted that the deal would come once the price came into the $32-35/share range.

Yahoo’s stock price has steadily risen over the course of the day as rumors have persisted that a Microsoft and/or Google deal was imminent.

Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Near Something or Other

Raise your hand if you’re tired of hearing about the pending Google-Yahoo and/or Yahoo-Microsoft deals. All right, everyone who isn’t me—you’re excused from reading this post. Me—you still have to write it, even though now there’s no one left out there.

Somehow, it’s suddenly news again that Yahoo might do SOMETHING at SOME POINT. (Can you tell I’m not overly impressed?) Sources tell the WSJ that late yesterday, Microsoft was leaning toward a hostile bid. Moments ago, Reuters‘ sources say that Yahoo and Microsoft talks are intensifying to avoid a hostile takeover. Microsoft’s bid has allegedly gone up several dollars.

Meanwhile, sources say that Yahoo will also announce a partnership with Google, making an uneven three-sided contest into a powersucking triumvirate controlling 90+% of the Internet search market, and a considerable portion of page views, advertising dollars and more. Yeah, I’m sure the FTC will look the other way now.

The Main Factor Necessary to Convert Visitors to Customers

InternetRetailer.com reports that the highest conversion rates among major online retailers during March were the following:

Office Depot – 20.9%
QVC – 19%
VistaPrint – 18.3%
Roamans – 18.1%
Lands’ End – 16.2%
eBay – 15.7%
1-800-Flowers.com – 15.5%
eBags.com – 15.3%
L.L. Bean – 14.6%
Pottery Barn Kids – 14.2%

These conversion rates are through the roof when compared with industry averages. In fact, they are not even believable unless you understand what the most important driver of conversion is.

Several years ago, a company I owned brokered online advertising. When working through the numbers with clients, it became obvious that some of them were completely in the dark about conversion. One client that comes to mind stockpiled an inventory equal to the number of impressions she was buying from us. In other words, she assumed a 100% clickthrough rate and 100% conversion! I don’t know how many times I have heard clients tell me that everyone buys that comes to their site. (After all, why wouldn’t they?)

Get $2000 Back on your First Google TV Ad*

I feel like I’m trying to sell something, but it’s true. Google is running a promotion to encourage people to try Google TV Ads. Details below…

Google TV Ads is out of beta after almost a year. As part of Google AdWords, you can run and track the results of television ads. At first glance the two concepts seem incongruent – online advertising and tv ads.

However, people watch tv and then go online to search, edit Wikipedia articles, go to web sites, and yes, buy products. An iProspect study said 37% of TV watchers go to search engines based on what they see in an ad. It’s also important because your online marketing and offline marketing campaigns should complement each other.

Linky Goodness, May 1

Um . . . I’m just still stuck on the whole jingly bells thing from Pilgrim’s Picks this morning. I’m not even going to try to top that. Or even say anything, really. So on to the linkage!

Why eBay Is Suing craigslist

The public version of eBay’s lawsuit against craigslist was filed this week, with a number of redactions (legal for ‘censored bits’) removed from the official filing, at the request of craigslist (which include the exact number of shares that eBay owns, the exact proportions of shares that others hold, etc.

paidContent offers a good synopsis of eBay’s accusations from the filing and the WSJ (which I will translate into English/a soap opera for those of us who are not financial wizards):