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The news was dominated by the presidential election in the US this week, but the past five days also saw more volatility in the world's financial markets and more than enough news to go around in the technology industry.

Obama elected president

As everyone surely knows by now, Americans voted Barack Obama to be their next president this past Tuesday.

While I've posted my cynical, half-tongue-in-cheek remarks on what this means for the technology community, it is worth looking at Obama's substantial technology agenda.

While political agendas are rarely executed in full, it probably can't hurt entrepreneurs to browse through what the next president of the US wants to do in this area.

Google pulls out of Yahoo advertising partnership

Despite his own indications to the contrary, Google CEO Eric Schmidt just didn't have the fight in him.

Google, deterred by an antitrust lawsuit that United States regulators were apparently prepared to file to stop the search behemoth's advertising deal with Yahoo, decided that calling the deal off altogether was in the company's best interests.

Google's chief legal officer, David Drummond, attributed the decision to a belief that fighting a lawsuit against the government would not be in the company's best interests.

He stated:

"...we're not going to let the prospect of a lengthy legal battle distract us from our core mission. That would be like trying to drive down the road of innovation with the parking brake on."

Schmidt echoed these sentiments Thursday:

"We concluded after a lot of soul-searching that it was not in our best interest to go through a lengthy and costly trial which we believe we ultimately would have won."

While I believe that Google made an understandable decision not to fight regulators, as I previously stated - how Google reacted to this challenge would tell us a lot about the company.

I'm left asking myself - is Google wisely picking and choosing its battles or is the company's expansion of its position in its most important market (search advertising) something that it should have been willing to fight more vigorously for?

On one hand, Google has been "distracted" by its portfolio of little pet projects and one might argue that defending its planned deal with Yahoo would have been a worthy "distraction."

On the other hand, given the economic environment and the recent collapse of the company's share price, choosing not to fight at the present time may have been the most responsible decision.

Meanwhile, Yahoo is the company left in an unenviable position. The $250 to $450 million it believed the Google deal would contribute to its cash flow is gone and having rejected Microsoft's rich acquisition offer (which was made before the financial meltdown) the company has few to no good options left.

So where does it go from here? Back to Redmond, of course, this time with a bit more humility.

A desperate-sounding Jerry Yang stated at the Web 2.0 Summit Thursday:

"To this day, I would say that the best thing for Microsoft to do is to buy Yahoo. I don’t think that’s a bad idea at all, I think at the right price, whatever that price is."

Unfortunately, now that Steve Ballmer knows Jerry Yang wants Microsoft, he's either not interested or playing very hard to get.

At a conference in Sydney he told reporters that Microsoft has "moved on" and is not interested in tendering a new offer for beleaguered Yahoo.

He did however, leave open the possibility of "some kind of partnership around search." In other words, while Yang is looking to get married, Ballmer is only interested in a "casual" relationship.

If there was ever a situation highlighting just how similar M&A is to courtship, the on-and-off relationship of Microsoft and Yahoo has turned out to be it.

Dell Asks Workers to Take Unpaid Leave

So much for social media saving Dell. The world's second largest PC maker, as part of its efforts to cut costs, is asking some employees to consider taking up to five days of unpaid vacation within the next three months and for those looking for an even sweeter deal, it's offering voluntary severance packages.

Additionally, the company has implemented a hiring freeze at all of its global locations.

Unfortunately, while Dell has taken a lot of flak for its request, it does appear to be a wise move.

PC demand around the globe has slowed and the company does need to cut costs if it is to maintain its current position and put itself in a good spot for the future.

Ignoring macroeconomic conditions and the industry environment could be fatal for PC manufacturers in today's world of commoditization and consolidation.

Craigslist cracks down on 'erotic services' ads

Craigslist, which has become a haven for "full service" advertising of another kind, is planning to crack down on ads for "erotic services."

Ironically, in the process of "cracking down," revenue will be flowing in.

Under an agreement with attorney generals from various states in the US, individuals and "businesses" looking to place ads on Craigslist for "erotic services" will need to supply a valid phone number and pay a listing fee with a credit card.

As described by The Age:

"Jim Buckmaster, Craigslist's chief executive, said the deal will allow legitimate escort services to continue advertising, while providing a strong disincentive to companies that are conducting illegal business."

Personally, I don't get it.

First, given Craigslist's noble ideals about "community," the mere fact that its service has been abused in the worst way possible to the detriment of real-world communities, one might question why Craigslist has not removed the "erotic services" section altogether.

Second, my understanding is that "escort services" are illegal in most states anyway. Therefore there really are no "legitimate escort services" (individuals are not paying hundreds of dollars an hour for companionship).

Fortunately, Craigslist does plan to donate the money it collects from these ads to charity but frankly, trying to turn dirty money into good money is a losing proposition in my opinion.

Zuckerberg Doesn't Lose Sleep Over $15B Valuation

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg isn't losing any sleep over the $15bn valuation the company has raised investment at. In what a sane investor might consider a slap in the face, Zuckerberg stated bluntly, "We don't feel any pressure to live up to the valuation."

He stated that Facebook is generating "hundreds of millions of dollars" every year and that it's top priority is still growth, not monetization. Ever reluctant to say too much, he denied reports that Facebook may be looking to raise more capital.

While it's great that Zuckerberg isn't losing sleep over financial matters, with more than 700 employees now and a global economy that some say is headed for a deep recession, one has to wonder - should he be?

Drama 2.0

Published 7 November, 2008 by Drama 2.0

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