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Microsoft's Liddell: Yahoo could be SaaSy if management would talk to us

Microsoft CFO Chris Liddell said Yahoo--assuming it is acquired by the software giant--will play a big software as a service role in the combined company.Liddell, speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology Conference, said that "clearly, software as a service is going to be a bigger component of the business going forward.
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Written by Larry Dignan, Contributing Editor on

Microsoft CFO Chris Liddell said Yahoo--assuming it is acquired by the software giant--will play a big software as a service role in the combined company.

Liddell, speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology Conference, said that "clearly, software as a service is going to be a bigger component of the business going forward." Part of that comment was pegged to today's news about Microsoft's online service plans. Liddell said that Microsoft views Yahoo as one on-ramp to delivering SaaS.

As the the countdown to March 13--the deadline for Microsoft to launch a proxy war--Liddell didn't elaborate much on Yahoo beyond the following statement (see Techmeme roundup):

The company has not yet formally responded to our offer. So you've seen the same press reports we have in terms of their view of it. You know, we continue to look at our options, and that's something that I'm incredibly systematic about. That's something that we look at, those alternatives, every week on the basis of what's happening in the external market: what the opportunities for us are both in our customer business and through acquisition. So, you know, we'll continue to look at those alternatives as we go forward, but there's no news, per se, on Yahoo.

Other odds and ends: Liddell said that Microsoft's IT budget is down year over year as the company looks for "some efficiencies who are non-software related." The trend overall though is up, Liddell argued realizing he may have stepped into a ditch. After all, if Microsoft is cutting IT spending it's tough to convince customers to ramp up spending on its software portfolio. "Look. It's consistent with all our investment philosophy. We make multi-year decisions. So just because the economy might have a soft few quarters doesn't fundamentally change the way that we run the business," he said.

Enterprise agreements are growing. Liddell said:

What we have seen over the last few quarters is a very, very good adoption and renewal rate in our enterprise agreement structure. And what that's really reflecting is that people see us as a core part of their infrastructure going forward, and a lot of the products that we are bringing in which are additional to the ones that they thought about historically at Microsoft have really taken hold. So things like SharePoint, for example, you know, that's a perfect example.

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