Everybody’s working for the weekend but before you leave work for the weekend, here’s a wrap-up of the news that caught my eye this week.
Google might argue that its search advertising deal with Yahoo is good for competition but not all search marketers see it that way.
According to News.com’s Stefanie Olsen, Google’s growing market share has marketers concerned.
Will Margiloff, who runs online marketing agency Innovation Interactive, puts it simply:
“We always have a need for multiple sources of quality traffic and we don’t see that need going away as Google’s share increases. Complexity is good, consolidation is bad.”
As one marketer quoted by News.com essentially put it; Google is search marketing and thus success or failure with Google means success or failure with search marketing.
Even though Google continues to get stronger, many marketers do feel that Google’s competitors are delivering good results, even if they can’t match Google’s scale.
And that’s what it really comes down to today. As PepperJam executive Michael Jones stated:
“There’s an intensified focus on return on investment.”
As well there should be. Just don’t tell that to the social media folks.
Not a single VC-backed company went public last quarter. That won’t be the case this quarter.
Hosting provider Rackspace is scheduled to start trading on the New York Stock Exchange today. It priced its stock yesterday at $12.50 per share yesterday. It is offering 15m shares.
While hosting may not be sexy, Rackspace does generate revenue and is profitable. In the first quarter of this year, it had earnings of $5.4m on revenues of just under $120m.
While I personally don’t have a place in my portfolio for a hosting company, I think it’s safe to say that Rackspace makes for a better IPO than, say, Facebook.
According to an SEC filing made by Google, the company sees its $1bn investment in AOL as possibly being “impaired.“
Unless AOL doesn’t get over this “impairment,” Google may have to write take a charge for the decreased value of its investment, which amounts to a “5 percent indirect equity stake in AOL.“
Of course, this isn’t exactly a surprise. AOL’s plan to split its dial-up subscription division and its advertising division is just the latest sign of the company’s woes.
For Google, its investment in AOL highlights the fact that its investment strategy isn’t flawless. After all, it reportedly invested in AOL at a valuation as high as $20bn.
Some say AOL may be worth half that today and if that turns out to be the value received as part of any eventual sale, Google stands to lose around $500mn.
Of course, AOL isn’t Google’s only potential liability. Another acquisition is, in my opinion, not one that “smart money” would have made either.
On Monday, I observed that the surprising results of Yahoo’s shareholder vote, which were strongly in favor of the current board, signaled that the smart money (and not-so-smart smart money) had already left the building.
Apparently, it wasn’t exactly that simple.
More not-so-smart smart money is still invested in Yahoo and some of its votes were not counted.
After questions were raised about the vote results and one of Yahoo’s largest institutional shareholders demanded a recount, it was discovered that there wasn’t nearly as much support for Yang and company – just over 33% of the votes for Yang were withheld and nearly 40% of the votes were withheld for Yahoo chairman Roy Bostock.
Two other board members, Ronald Burkle and Arthur Kern, also saw withheld vote figures in the 30% range.
Clearly, there are still a lot of angry shareholders.
Of course, I found the botched voting counting to be somewhat interesting for other reasons.
As Heidi N. Moore of the Wall Street Journal points out, the system for shareholder voting in the United States appears to be about as broken as the system for political voting in the United States.
In what could theoretically have a noticeable impact on the landscape in Silicon Valley, the California Supreme Court ruled that employers can’t use non-compete clauses to “restrain a former employee from engaging in his or her profession, trade or business.”
While the case that led to this decision dealt with a tax manager, non-compete clauses are popular with some technology companies.
For obvious reasons, because they often compete in markets dominated by intellectual property, high-tech employers often rely heavily on the knowledge and skill of key employees.
Thus, there is always good reason to be concerned that the departure of a key employee to a competitor or to an upstart could pose a threat.
The California Supreme Court’s ruling makes it clear that non-compete clauses are unacceptable in California except under a handful of limited circumstances.
Now that much of the debate over non-competes is apparently resolved in California, Silicon Valley technology companies will have to get used to the fact that there’s little they can do to keep an employee from joining a competitor or becoming one.
That’s probably not such a bad thing.