A Game of He Said, Yang Said

The New York Times reported today that in an interview, Yahoo’s CEO and co-founder, Jerry Yang, claimed that Microsoft pulled its bid for his company after Yahoo counter offered the software giants previous bid.

This is in direct contrast to claims by Steve Ballmer and Microsoft’s advisers, that stated that the bid was pulled due to Yahoo’s unwillingness to counter, and Mr. Yang and his board’s decision to settle on a price of $37 a share their ultimate refusal to budge.

“They chose to walk away after we put a price on the table, and they didn’t want to negotiate,” Mr. Yang said. “From my perspective, we were open all along to selling to Microsoft. We just feel Yahoo, either stand-alone or with Microsoft, is worth more than what they put on the table.”

Steve Ballmer’s Email to Microsoft Employees

Techcrunch.com has released an email sent by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to Microsoft employees:

This afternoon I sent the attached letter to Jerry Yang announcing that Microsoft has withdrawn its proposal to acquire Yahoo. We proposed the deal in the belief that a Microsoft-Yahoo merger would create a combined company with the resources and assets to win in the fast-growing market for advertising and online services.

Ballmer spends most the email bolstering the company’s initiatives in terms of Internet advertising, and explains that the Yahoo merger was more of an accelerated means to obtain the company’s vision on the Web rather than an end all be all.

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 Sets Aside $1.5 Billion to Retain Yahoo Employees

And so the Microhoo saga continues.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft plans to allocate $1.5 billion dollars to employee retention if the merger goes through. This is according to court documents in a shareholder lawsuit cited by the WSJ. According to CNET:

The documents include transcripts of a March 24 conference call hearing between attorneys for Yahoo and two Detroit-based pension funds. During the call, a Yahoo attorney noted Microsoft had informed the company that it “earmarked $1.5 billion for employee retention at Yahoo,” cites the Journal.

The court transcripts note a Yahoo attorney stating, “there are no more reductions in force planned for the future.”

This, and the fact that Search Engine Land is reporting that the $1.5 billion is not tied to severance packages, should at least let the 13,200 employees of Yahoo rest a little easier.

Court Declares META Keywords Dead

In a move that would only shock SEOs working in 1998, a US court has deemed Meta keywords as “immaterial” as it relates to their effect on search rankings.

The decision was reached during the Standard Process, Inc. v. Banks case. Standard Process had filed suit against Dr. Scott J. Banks for trademark infringement, the alleged infringement coming at least partly by way of one of Standard Process’s trademarks being found in Bank’s Meta keywords tag .

As Barry Schawrtz commented on Search Engine Land:

Standard Process did win part of the case, the judge ruled that since the keyword META tags do not influence search results, having trademarked terms in them are immaterial. I do not have access to the court document on that specific decision, at this moment, but I trust Eric Goldman on that.

To Deceive or Not Deceive, That’s Google’s Question

According to a federal class action lawsuit filed Tuesday April 22nd by Kabateck Brown Kellner, LLP in U.S. District Court, Google is deceiving its customers into paying for ads they do not want.

Brian Kabateck is the lead counsel on the case. He recently won a multi-million dollar settlement from Yahoo! and earlier a $90 million settlement from Google on behalf of advertisers victimized by click fraud.

According to a release from the firm, Kabateck stated:

“This debunks Google’s carefully cultivated image. Google is hurting its customers on two fronts. Google is not only taking money out of customers’ pockets, it’s derailing their advertising strategies as well.”

Google Video Team Announces Changes

The Google video team, via the Google Video blog, announced changes to the way you can search and view videos on the search engine.

According to the Google video blog:

“Now you can choose any of three ways to view your video search-results: a traditional list view, a grid view and, for those of you who like to maximize your video-watching efficiency, a TV view, where you can watch an embedded video while continuing to view your search results next to the video for a more seamless browse and search experience.”

The Google video homepage has also seen some changes, including the ability to view the top videos directly on the homepage. The Google Video home page now sports tabs for easy access to popular videos like “Hot Videos”, “Most Blogged”, “Most Shared”, “Most Viewed” and “Movers & Shakers.”