Category Archives: acquisition

Nokia acquisitions: Navteq, Plazes and Symbian

Nokia has announced three interesting acquisitions in the last 9 months:

Navteq is the leading provider of Maps data for GPS, mobile devices and Internet. This acquisition will allow Nokia to provide improved location-based services and at the same time making it harder for competitors to get this data. Smart move! It looks like the acquisition hasn’t closed yet and is still undergoing regulatory approval.

I first heard of Plazes back in June 2006 from Laurent Haug. The basic idea at the time was to have members report their location and record their IP address (or subnet). The system would then assume that any visitor with a similar IP is in the same location. They extended this to mobile phones and cell towers if I remember correctly. A dedicated community emerged on Plazes (basically a social network around places). I didn’t end up using the service on a regular basis after trying it out. It looks like the product has come a long way since then and is now more centered around organizing social activities (with a corresponding place and time).

These two companies combined are a great foundation for location based services and applications! However turning acquisitions into new and exciting products is always a huge challenge. It’s been too quiet around Google and Dodgeball or GrandCentral for example.

The latest announcement is the acquisition of the remaining shares of Symbian to create the Symbian foundation [press release] and partially open source the OS. An interesting move given Google’s Android project and other closed source OS for mobile devices. It looks like Nokia wants to ensure that Symbian survives as an independent OS.

Nokia’s shares have been on a downward trend for a while now. I hope these acquisitons will start the turnaround.

Disclaimer: I have owned several Nokia phones and the brand has always kept a special spot in my heart. I do not own a Nokia phone (or shares) right now. And I’m eyeing an iPhone.

Microsoft walks away from Yahoo! – now what?

As mentioned before I’ve been fascinated by the play by play evolution of the attempted takeover of Yahoo! by Microsoft. A few days ago I started having a feeling that the deal will not go through. Even when the rumors of a higher bid started surfacing I still didn’t believe the deal would happen. And today Microsoft announced that it withdraws its offer!

I think that’s good longer term for Yahoo! even though it will hurt the stock in the short term. It might have actually helped rallying the troops behind Yahoo! even though we lost a bunch of good employees. It’s now up to the leadership to send strong signals to the employees asap and get them fired up.

Steve Ballmer seems to be very nervous about the recent (partial) outsourcing of search monetization to Google and has included a few remarks on that topic. I’m surprised Valleywag didn’t point out that these bullets were directly addressed to regulators rather than Yahoo!.

It’ll be an interesting Monday. For sure.

New turn in the Microsoft/Yahoo! saga coming soon?

Microsoft’s attempt to purchase Yahoo! and the ensuing public moves and counter moves have been fascinating. It is a major milestone in the history of the Internet and witnessing it from within Yahoo! is very interesting.

The fact that all of this is happening in a very public way is indicative that the shareholders are an important piece of the puzzle. The tone and message sometimes remind me of two kids that are fighting.

We’re currently at the stage were Microsoft threatened to lower the bid and blamed Yahoo! for not even talking to them. Yahoo! denies this and says the offer is too low and that they are willing to talk.

And tomorrow Yahoo! will announce Q1 ’08 earnings. There are basically two possible outcomes:

  1. Results below expectations: Shareholders will get even more nervous and will push hard for accepting Microsoft’s bid. Microsoft can close the deal by increasing the bid slightly. This is preferable to lowering the bid which might have the same result but is more risky.
  2. Results in line or above expectations (with positive outlook): Shareholders are willing to give Yahoo! another chance and Microsoft will have to raise the bid and potentially go into a proxy-fight to push the acquisition through.

Given that Yahoo!’s senior management has been on a roadshow confirming the Q1 and 2008 forecast I would be surprised if earnings came in below expectations. This would totally ruin the management’s credibility.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s announcement and the after-hours market.  Microsoft’s next move will probably follow several days later. Valleywag determined the last possible date for a result in the case of a proxy fight to be mid-august.

Happy Birthday Gmail

April 1st marked the 4 year anniversary of the launch of Gmail. This was a life changing event for me as it is the main reason I’m with Yahoo! and still in the US.

The launch on April Fool’s Day was genius. It generated a ton of buzz especially after it became clear that the product actually exists. Back then Google was all about search which made an email product launch very unlikely. Some people were confused or didn’t believe the story for weeks.

I have a Gmail account but don’t really use it. I don’t think I have logged in for the last 4 weeks (I’m going to now though). I work for Yahoo! Mail and know that product inside-out, every key-shortcut, search modifier and also some hidden features . And I truly prefer it to Gmail from a user experience point-of-view.

Thanks Google for mixing up the email space!

Bebo to be acquired by AOL

AOL just announced plans to acquire Bebo for $850 million (all cash). Congratulations to Michael and the other guys at Bebo!

I was always very impressed with their ability to execute at an amazing pace. Their Engineering team was churning out feature after feature including compatibility with F8 while the business side was focused on making money through innovative advertisement products.

Good luck as part of AOL. I hope they’re not going to slow you down!