Guest post:Chris Matyszczyk puts Microsoft's bid to acquire Yahoo in layperson terms.
I once went to dinner with a very well-known TV actress.
When she flew to New York to do Regis and Kelly, she stayed at the Ritz-Carlton in New York. The staff would hang pictures of her up in her room before she arrived. And she loved it.
"There's nothing wrong with fame," she told me. "I love being loved."
I mention this story because ever since I heard that Microsoft was wooing Yahoo, I keep thinking that there is more to this than money.
Laugh if you will, but the people who run Microsoft are, so I'm told, people.
I am also told they have feelings.
And I also know that they wish their brand was loved more than it is.
You can imagine them looking at Google, a brand that seems to enjoy so much love, without trying too hard. You can imagine them looking at Google and watching them make significant steps towards monopoly in search while happily claiming to do no evil.
No monopolist ever does evil.
Let's put it in human terms all of our viewers of E! will understand.
Microsoft is Tom Cruise. He's very famous. He's made huge amounts of money. But he exudes something of a controlling side. Every time he tries to be charming, he ends up getting up on the sofa and screaming rather loudly, as if the more noise he makes, the more sincerely he will be taken. (And I do know some people really would like to take him somewhere very quiet for a while.)
We've even seen him on a purple chair.
It was March 21st 2006, when Mr. Cruise regaled the Yahooligans at the behest of his Hollywood chum, former Yahoo Chairman and CEO, Terry Semel. (Was this the moment when Yahoo began to feel its independence slipping away?)
Google is Brad Pitt. He gets the girl without even needing to raise an eyebrow. Men love him. Women love him. The tigers of San Francisco Zoo would cuddle up to him.
Legend has it that when Tom viewed Brad's fame, he decided that he needed a glamorous, young, attractive wife to boost his lovability.
The story goes that he approached Scarlett Johansson. Perhaps she was not quite convinced of Scientology's rectitude. Perhaps she thought Bill Murray was better looking.
But he finally persuaded Katie Holmes, having apparently also considered Jessica Alba amongst others.
The point is that Mr. Cruise appears to have believed that being associated with these more lovable women would do something positive for his own brand.
I don't doubt that Microsoft, like Mr. Cruise, have a touching affection for money.
But I am equally sure that in Yahoo they see a brand that once enjoyed affection of a more potent kind, at least on the level of Jessica Alba, Scarlett Johansson, Nicole Kidman and Weird Al Jankovic combined.
Brands don't lose all that affection in a mere year or two.
And, go on, dream with me. If, under Microsoft's sensitive nurturing, Yahoo can regain some of its former yodel, becoming again associated with innovation, or at least a little style (something Google has even more to learn about than Richard Simmons and Gary Busey), then how might this reflect on Thomas Microsoft Cruise ?
It just might put them in a position to do bigger, better and, most importantly, more original things.
I wonder what the next Katie Holmes movie will do. For Tom, I mean.