The Unedifying Google-Microsoft Fight

Includes: AABA, GOOG, MSFT
by: Felix Salmon

Herb Greenberg is unimpressed with the spectacle of Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) lumbering in to the Microsoft-Yahoo (NASDAQ:MSFT) (YHOO) ring, trying to spoil the deal before it happens. "The irony is obvious," he says. "So is the arrogance of Google."

Maybe it was simply nice of Eric Schmidt to offer his help to Jerry Yang on Friday should Yang be inclined to fight the Microsoft bid. But the NYT characterizes Schmidt's call as "unusually aggressive". And the official Google blog entry on the subject is pretty nasty in tone. "Microsoft's hostile bid for Yahoo! raises troubling questions," it says. "Could Microsoft now attempt to exert the same sort of inappropriate and illegal influence over the Internet that it did with the PC? Could a combination of the two take advantage of a PC software monopoly to unfairly limit the ability of consumers to freely access competitors' email, IM, and web-based services?"

Well, yes, is the obvious answer. But that would be illegal. And it's a bit rich to object to a merger on the grounds that the merged company could engage in illegal activities.

Interestingly, both the Google blog entry and the Microsoft response were written by the respective companies' top in-house lawyers. As John Battelle says, "someone tell the chief counsels to shut the f. up." I'm already nostalgic for the halcyon era of last Friday when Microsoft refused to use the word "Google" in its official communications.