Sergey Brin: MicroHoo 'Unnerving' - InformationWeek

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Commentary
2/22/2008
09:36 AM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
Commentary
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Sergey Brin: MicroHoo 'Unnerving'

At a recent event, Google co-founder Sergey Brin called Microsoft's bid for Yahoo "unnerving" and said the move imperils innovation on the Internet. Google also posits that the merger would be illegal. Maybe the merger could violate antitrust laws. Or maybe Brin likes being King of the Mountain, and doesn't want anything to threaten that. Oh, and Brin? Innovation will continue w

At a recent event, Google co-founder Sergey Brin called Microsoft's bid for Yahoo "unnerving" and said the move imperils innovation on the Internet. Google also posits that the merger would be illegal. Maybe the merger could violate antitrust laws. Or maybe Brin likes being King of the Mountain, and doesn't want anything to threaten that. Oh, and Brin? Innovation will continue with or without MicroHoo.The remarks came at an event for the Google Lunar X Prize yesterday. In an interview with the Associated Press, Brin said, "The Internet has evolved from open standards, having a diversity of companies. And when you start to have companies that control the operating system, control the browsers, they really tie up the top Web sites, and can be used to manipulate stuff in various ways. I think that's unnerving."

That's pretty much what Google's chief legal officer David Drummond said in a letter published on Google's Web site shortly after Microsoft's takeover bid was announced. He wrote, in part, "This is about more than simply a financial transaction, one company taking over another. It's about preserving the underlying principles of the Internet: openness and innovation."

The merger/takeover is certainly an interesting idea. From Microsoft's perspective, it makes absolute sense. It needs to expand its Web services in a way that works. It has faltered thus far in really connecting with Internet users through its portals. The notion isn't so positive for Yahoo, which could be swallowed by what many have termed the "Evil Empire."

There's no doubt the merger would have an effect on the Internet. But would it threaten innovation? No. First off, neither Microsoft nor Yahoo is really innovating lately. Yes, they both come out with neat new products from time to time, but all the biggest leaps forward have come from startups. Take Flickr, for example. Yahoo didn't create that. It acquired it. Flickr was one of the first Web 2.0 properties. It was the innovator, not Yahoo.

Same goes for Google. It has purchased myriad companies, such as Postini, to bolster its own technology and services.

Smaller companies will continue to innovate at the pace they always have, regardless of whether or not Microsoft buys Yahoo. Google's real objection is that it feels threatened competitively. Brin doesn't want Google's supremacy challenged in any way.

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