Yahoo: Will The Last Smart Coder Please Turn Off The Lights?

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With Microsoft now in charge of the sexy stuff--search--what will become of Yahoo?

While Yahoo will still be doing instant messaging, email, and--of course--content aggregation, it's search technology that was the holy grail. With that quest over, what happens to Yahoo's talented crusaders?

Lacking top-rank technical talent at Yahoo, if we're going to have a serious Google competitor, it must be Microsoft. That is, unless a new player drops from the sky, Until then, Microsoft is it.

Some observers, like my Computerworld colleague Preston Gralla, expect Google to gain as much as Microsoft does from the Yahoo deal.

The tech world will soon divide itself into four camps. Pick yours:

  1. People who love Google and hate Microsoft (probably most people today)
  2. People who love Microsoft and hate Google (a decided minority, but growing)
  3. People who hate them both equally (I can't say I know any of these folks, but this could be where the majority ends up)
  4. People who could care less (and really don't notice that Google and Bing aren't the same thing)

I am thinking about this after reading Douglas MacMillan's excellent BusinessWeek report on what seems to have become the Dark Ages at Yahoo. Having messed up its investment in search technology and never really finding a value-add, the company has decided to save money and play a different game.

Another AOL, just what the world needs. It's a strategy that allows Yahoo to be an also-ran in content aggregation, too. I'd hope they'd be able to accomplish something useful and interesting, but their new homepage isn't exactly an awe-inspiring start.

Yahoo boss Carol Bartz' deal with Steve Ballmer left Microsoft's financial analysts confused. Less confused will be Yahoo's top-tier engineers, who I expect to see leaving in droves. Microsoft might be wise to hire some of these people, once it figures out that Yahoo management was to blame for the company's search failure and not the technical staff. Thank ex-CEO Terry Semel for this, I think.

Maybe some career rehab will turn dispirited Yahooligans into the second wave of Microsoft's crusade against Google.

Industry veteran David Coursey once again wishes things had turned out differently. He tweets as @techinciter and can be contacted via his Web site.

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