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Tellme Founder Tells Yahoo Not to Worry Over Microsoft Takeover 117

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the don't-worry-be-happy dept.
Tellme founder and previous Yahoo co-founder, Mike McCue hasn't spoken to past-partner Jerry Yang since the Microsoft takeover bid for Yahoo, but he wanted to let his friend know that being acquired by Microsoft isn't such a terrible proposition. "After being assured that Tellme would be able to retain its Silicon Valley office, identity and quirky culture, McCue negotiated an $800 million sale to Microsoft and agreed to stay on as general manager. It's a decision that he says he doesn't regret 10 months into the marriage. 'We are pretty much doing everything we were doing before - just a lot more of it,' said McCue, 40. Because of the vast differences in size, the Tellme deal obviously isn't an apples-to-apples comparison to Microsoft's proposed $40 billion acquisition of Yahoo, which contends it's worth even more money despite a two-year earnings slump."
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Tellme Founder Tells Yahoo Not to Worry Over Microsoft Takeover

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    They told us we could keep our independence but almost immediately a VP decided we should be assimilated.
  • by sethstorm (512897) * on Sunday March 02, 2008 @01:47AM (#22613922) Homepage
    ...it'd be employees of Microsoft in that part of the world that need fear this takeover. Of course, when you let Wall Street rule the world, human rights gets thrown out of the window and into the next county.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      So I take it you've never bought anything made in China? Or is it only evil if other people help totalitarian governments and if you don't have to pay more money for your toys?
      • by Brian Gordon (987471) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @01:55AM (#22613958)
        What does that have anything to do with it? And nobody give me some smart answer- I mean directly, that has nothing to do with what we think about Yahoo's decisions about China.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 02, 2008 @02:14AM (#22614020)
          Oddly enough the original poster's comment had two sentences, the second of which was a general note about the effect of money. I simply wanted to point out that getting on a high horse doesn't have much effect when you're covered in shit yourself already. The US government and probably every single person on slashdot helps the Chinese government grow and maintaining it's power. We give it money, we give it economic growth, we give it technological progress and we all ignore it's continual humanitarian abuses. We argue that this is better in the long term ,we argue that we are actually helping the Chinese people and so on.

          Nonetheless every large company is China has probably had one government order or another requesting information on it's workers, or on it's customers or wiretaps or whatever. The exact same thing is done in the US, the police sometimes request things from companies and companies give that information up. If your company does business in China it can either follow it's laws or not do business there, no one seems to mind the former as long as they can save some money (including likely every single slashdot poster when they buy computer parts).
    • ...it'd be employees of Microsoft in that part of the world that need fear this takeover. Of course, when you let Wall Street rule the world, human rights gets thrown out of the window and into the next county.

      Since when Microsoft is heroically fighting for human rights in China?

      Stop that illusion, no Fortune 500 company with billions of dollars plans will stand up against Chinese politics. Some do it publicly, some doesn't. The so called "good guys" bothers me more since they think I am stupid.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I wouldn't exactly be complaining about it.
  • Who wouldnt be? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by miffo.swe (547642) <daniel.hedblom @ g m a i l .com> on Sunday March 02, 2008 @01:51AM (#22613936) Homepage Journal
    Getting paid $800 million i would gladly let Bill Gates rape my company anyday. Asking someone recently given that kind of money what they think is pretty useless.
    • by dattaway (3088)
      I'm looking forward to the day when we all work for and are citizens of Microsoft. No more worries about competition, wars, or being sued for using Linux.
    • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @02:23AM (#22614048)

      Getting paid $800 million i would gladly let Bill Gates rape my company anyday
      Hell, for $800 million dollars, I'd let him rape me! That's a statement he can stand behind.
    • "They float all down here, Richie. When you're down here with us, you'll float too!"
    • Re:Who wouldnt be? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Znork (31774) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @05:51AM (#22614618)
      Asking someone recently given that kind of money

      It's not the money. While I'm sure the recipient of that kind of money would be hesitant to comment negatively, the keyword here is recently.

      Ten months into an acquisition and a company of Microsofts size has barely noticed it's got a new appendage. They probably haven't even finished connecting internal networks or handed out ID's, never mind hooking up finance and reporting systems.

      See if 'anything's changed' in five years, once functional units have been merged into the mainstay and the real estate unit wonders why they have this expensive office in silicon valley, the culture unit has been briefed in the new culture is busy holding chairthrowing contests, and 'identity' is something you put in the corporate directory and 'identity management' deals with.
      • After $100m or so you really have no use for money. You can but a couple of holiday homes in interesting locations and park a few cars in each driveway and moor a yacht off each private jetty and never need to worry about money again.

        After that, money is just power. If you only get $800m instead of $900m you'd feel screwed over. You gave Bill some of your power.

    • Exactly. You can't ask the new GM, you have to look at the employees and see how many left (or were replaced) since the takeover. If it's over 20%, there were a lot of problems.

      Plus, I never understood why companies would buy the competition anyway. Yea, you can diversify, but this isn't diversifying. It's two companies that are underdogs combining hoping it will make a difference. Seems like wasted money unless the buyout leaves you a monopoly - which it certainly does not in this case. And Micros
    • No, it isn't useless. Their opinion is INFINITELY more valuable than yours, which seems to be based solely on what you think will make you "cool" on slashdot. Oh, and 1996 called... they want anti-Microsoft hyperbole back.
  • it's impossible to be a "previous co-founder" without a time machine. You're always the co-founder no matter if you're still with the company or not.
    • by DeAgua (707093)
      I'm pretty sure that your tag should be:

      Google's Super Secret Search Algorithm:

      SELECT * FROM internet WHERE search_term = @search_term ORDER BY Popularity

      • it was a direct quote from the Slashdot April Fools SQL on Rails story's video :P I know it makes no sense as an SQL statement :P
  • Tellme? (Score:5, Funny)

    by jo42 (227475) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @02:00AM (#22613972) Homepage
    Tellme is so popular I had to Google them to find out WTF they do.

    Either that or I live under a rock...
    • Re:Tellme (Score:3, Informative)

      by TaoPhoenix (980487)
      I dunno about popular.
      But I know of them, because part of their service line is to do Directory Assistance matches which gleefully tells you they are "powered by Tellme".

    • I was a tellme early adopter. They lied and cheated, and I went elsewhere. Ant this was before Win 3.1 AFAICR.

      I still have the documents somewhere, in case I ever get round to suing them. They are in the same league as Zango, and 180 solutions.

      • by hab136 (30884)

        I was a tellme early adopter. They lied and cheated, and I went elsewhere. Ant this was before Win 3.1 AFAICR.

        Care to elaborate?
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anne Thwacks (531696)
          It was a very long time ago, but the essence of it was that they claimed to be a low cost ISP, with free bundled modem. When in fact the modem was a lame 2400 baud thing when I was already operating 56k, and the "internet" they offered was a walled garden, which you could easily break out of, but if you did, you were billed at a hideous rate without warning, so that I ended up with huge bills.

          In short, their business model relied on deceptive practices, and overcharging. I recall endless bills for things

          • Tellme has never been involved in anything like that.
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by jshazen (233469)
            I have mod points, but rather than mod parent *un*informative, I thought I'd explain. You're either misremembering the company that you're talking about, or there was some other company called Tellme that went out of business.

            1) The Tellme that the article talks about is a phone automation company, not an ISP.
            2) Until recently, Tellme has had clients in the Fortune 100, and has not charged individuals to use the service. (Tellme does have a *free* service (1-800-555-TELL) for the general public.)
            3) Tellme
      • by RockDoctor (15477)

        They [Tellme] are in the same league as Zango, and 180 solutions.

        ... which still doesn't enlighten us as to what they actually do ...
        The Google top line result has the strap line "Tellme 800 services allow voice query for stocks, sports, news, weather, and horoscopes." I suspect that the "800" refers to the US "free call" telephone system, in which case that implies

        1. advertising all over the place (to pay for everything else)
        2. some significant voice-recognition processing power somewhere. (They also mention
    • Soooo????? TellUs!!!!! WTF do they do?
  • by tsa (15680)
    I will give up my Flickr account the moment MS takes over Yahoo. That'll teach them!
    • by jzhos (1043516)
      right, they will be so scared.
      • by tsa (15680)
        Yeah I guess MS will blow off the whole deal now! ;)
      • by tsa (15680)
        But seriously, what else can I do to make them know I don't like their deal? I just want to have as little to do with MS as possible.
  • by giminy (94188) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @02:08AM (#22614002) Homepage Journal
    This is the first time in a long time that the borg icon for MS makes entirely too much sense...you will be assimilated, etc.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 02, 2008 @02:30AM (#22614076)
    > Tellme founder and previous Yahoo co-founder, Mike McCue hasn't spoken to past-partner Jerry Yang

    This is wrong. McCue has no direct connections to Yahoo in his past. He founded Paper Software which was purchased by Netscape where he stayed on as a VP. He eventually started Tellme Networks with Angus Davis in 1999. Prior to Paper I believe he was at IBM.
  • Biased (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Comatose51 (687974) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @02:36AM (#22614098) Homepage
    I'm not saying that the guy is biased but let's just think about this for a second. Anyone who've agreed to be bought by Microsoft has already found Microsoft to be a good match. In other words, if Microsoft wasn't a good match, the deal would have never gone through and we wouldn't have this article. It's kind of like asking a bunch of BMW owners what they think of BMWs. Most of them would have positive things to say, especially the new owners (which is similar in this case). To get an accurate picture we need to ask those who turned down Microsoft why did they turn them down as well as those who accepted the offer.

    To be fair, many of my coworkers are former Microsoft employees and most of them did have positive things to say about the work environment. Obviously, it wasn't the end all and be all of places since they did leave after all.
    • Re:Biased (Score:5, Insightful)

      by blind monkey 3 (773904) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @03:47AM (#22614282)
      Isn't the he an employee of Microsoft?
      Surely he would be a brave person to bite the hand that feeds him... especially such a big hand, attached to a long arm at that.
      • Ah yes, but Microsoft's hand has it's fingers in a lot of pies, so it would be tasty to bite. Which means that umm..

        Wait, what were we talking about?
      • by autophile (640621)

        Isn't the he an employee of Microsoft? Surely he would be a brave person to bite the hand that feeds him...

        Sure, if he spoke out against the merger, he'd be biting the hand that feeds him. But his third choice was to remain silent.

        --Rob

    • by adolf (21054)
      I like your comparison, and would like to use it as a source of causation!

      I really like my BMW. It turns 13 (and 160k) soon. We've only been together for about three short years -- far longer than a lot of tech companies ever last, but it's a very short time in BMW years. Since the acquisition, this car has taught me much, such as:

      1. How to countersteer. I thought I'd already known how to countersteer from my years of driving a Firebird, which was loose like a two-dollar whore. I've since learned that
    • by initialE (758110)
      Conversely, anyone that doesn't agree to be bought by Microsoft knows that if they want your technology bad enough, they will just clone it. Citrix -> Terminal Services, Netscape -> Internet Explorer and IIS, Oracle -> SQL Server. They might not succeed, but in either case you're facing competition and uncertainty just by saying no.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DarkOx (621550)
        While I think you're point is generally correct SQL Server has little to do with Oracle. SQL Server is instread the poster child for why you never partner with M$ on a development project. M$ licensed Sybase for the core of SQL Server and the two oranization agreed to continue to share code. Now M$ went and spent all their engergy doing things very tightly coupled to Windows and therfore not useful to the cross platform Sybase product.

        They then marketed SQL Server more agressively and cheaper, sucking up
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dirk (87083)
      While it's true that he may be biased, asking people who have turned down MS won't tell you anything, because they have no knowledge of what happens when MS buys you. What this guy is trying to get across (for either his own personal reasons or as an MS employee)is that a lot of the fears and FUD you hear about MS taking over a company (they will just fire everyone and keep the tech, they will totally assimilate you and change your culture, they will just buy you and bury your tech and push theirs, etc)are
      • by Grishnakh (216268)
        What this guy is trying to get across (for either his own personal reasons or as an MS employee)is that a lot of the fears and FUD you hear about MS taking over a company (they will just fire everyone and keep the tech, they will totally assimilate you and change your culture, they will just buy you and bury your tech and push theirs, etc)are not true. Asking someone who didn't get taken over by MS what MS does when they take someone over is just silly, as they don't know. If you want to know if something i
  • Maybe, Maybe Not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OakLEE (91103) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @02:38AM (#22614104)
    While I think a good segment of Yahoo's workforce won't have to worry so much, an acquisition like this is not going to happen without dead weight being trimmed off.

    Assuming the merger occurs Microsoft, regardless of its promises, will have to start integrating Yahoo into MSN or vice versa. It would make no sense to run two competing operations under one roof. Thus we can safely assume that either MSN or Yahoo's upper management are toast, unless Microsoft is completely idiotic and wants to integrate the two, which would create all sorts of loyalty and corporate culture conflicts.

    After management, who gets fired next depends on what Microsoft is buying Yahoo for.

    If you believe what Microsoft says, it is buying Yahoo for engineering talent, then most of the Yahoo's content departments become redundant and will be eliminated, while the engineers and IT people stay.

    If you believe that Microsoft is buying Yahoo because MSN's content is shit poor, then the content people are safe. The engineers and IT people become redundant as Yahoo moves over to a Microsoft-based back end. (For those who think that's impossible, remember that Microsoft moved Hotmail from BSD to Windows 2k with relative efficiency.)

    If you believe (as I do) that Microsoft is buying Yahoo for its account/user base, then every employee at Yahoo is conceivably expendable since the value in Yahoo would lie in one of its raw assets (users) and not in the organizational structure of the company itself. Buying solely for the user accounts, would obviate the need for Yahoo as an entity.

    Regardless of how you view it though, Yahoo as a completely separate and intact operation under the Microsoft umbrella is impossible just because it competes on a lot of fronts with MSN, and unless Microsoft's plan involves completely dismantling its MSN unit, some consolidation of the two is going to have to occur.
    • by MBC1977 (978793)
      Not entirely true...AOL Messenger and ICQ come to mind, though your probably right that the userbase is the real objective.
      • by Ilgaz (86384) *

        Not entirely true...AOL Messenger and ICQ come to mind, though your probably right that the userbase is the real objective.

        People giving up ICQ didn't move to AIM, they moved to MSN Messenger. So AOL basically lost users to Microsoft.

        Microsoft-Yahoo? People will move to Google and hosting (with services) will move to Amazon.

        My "Yahoo mail" account was acquired in 1998, I know the exact time since I cancelled my Hotmail account right after MS bought them. The day this deal works, I am packing and going to somewhere else. Lots of people thinking exactly what I think and I am sure Yahoo lost users just by this "proposed deal" in

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by norbac (1113477)
      Assuming the merger occurs Microsoft, regardless of its promises, will have to start integrating Yahoo into MSN or vice versa. It would make no sense to run two competing operations under one roof.

      Not really. In the end all they want is online advertising. It may make sense to adopt a single advertising platform, but keep both properties (MSN, Yahoo) separate to appeal to the broadest possible audience.
    • If you believe (as I do) that Microsoft is buying Yahoo for its account/user base, then every employee at Yahoo is conceivably expendable since the value in Yahoo would lie in one of its raw assets (users) and not in the organizational structure of the company itself. Buying solely for the user accounts, would obviate the need for Yahoo as an entity.

      That may be foolish, because one reason I use Yahoo! is that it is not Microsoft, and if acquired, I will leave Yahoo! like I would avoid a leper.
      • While I don't doubt that this is true for you and a number of Slashdot folks, I'd be seriously surprised if over 1% of Yahoo!'s userbase would jump ship over it.

        (Now, if Microsoft changed a bunch of stuff that they liked about Yahoo! thereafter, that's another story.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      If you believe that Microsoft is buying Yahoo because MSN's content is shit poor, then the content people are safe. The engineers and IT people become redundant as Yahoo moves over to a Microsoft-based back end. (For those who think that's impossible, remember that Microsoft moved Hotmail from BSD to Windows 2k with relative efficiency.)

      I agree with the parent post in general, and even this point isn't bad, except for the "relative efficiency" part, even with the built-in "relative" disclaimer. Not only w

      • I remember reading some internet columnist talking about the failed NT migration in 1999 or so, and I just found a description with references at the Wikipedia page on Hotmail. Specifically, the development history part and in the footnotes.

        I knew the OP's comment was rubbish, but it didn't occur to me that Wikipedia had a page devoted to the subject. Thanks for the heads up.

        For anyone who hasn't seen the Wiki page, it's an interesting read. Even more interesting is the information cited in the footnotes.
  • by disassembled (977342) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @03:01AM (#22614164)
    Mike McCue is not a co-founder of Yahoo. Prior to starting Tellme in 1999, he founded a company called Paper Software, which was subsequently bought by Netscape, but he was never directly involved with Yahoo.

    The article is admittedly ambiguous about this point--it introduces Jerry Yang as a co-founder of Yahoo, and in the process, it inadvertently implies that he co-founded it with McCue.
    • by aguenter (1060008)
      "Tellme founder and previous Yahoo co-founder, Mike McCue hasn't spoken to past-partner Jerry Yang since the Microsoft takeover bid for Yahoo..."

      There's nothing ambiguous or implied in the way that sentence is structured. It pretty clearly states him as being a co-founder of Yahoo.

      You could make the argument of implication if it read "Tellme founder Mike McCue hasn't spoken to past-partner and previous Yahoo co-founder, Jerry Yang, since the Microsoft takeover bid for Yahoo..."
      • There's nothing ambiguous or implied in the way that sentence is structured. It pretty clearly states him as being a co-founder of Yahoo.

        The Slashdot story is both unambiguous and wrong in this respect. I was referring to the original article to which the Slashdot story links, which says:

        Mike McCue hasn't talked to Yahoo Inc. co-founder Jerry Yang since Microsoft Corp. ambushed the Internet pioneer with an unsolicited takeover bid a month ago.

        I don't think the author of this article meant to imply that McCue co-founded Yahoo with Yang, but I can see how the Slashdot editors read it that way. For the record, once again, McCue is not a co-founder of Yahoo.

  • by imasu (1008081) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @03:02AM (#22614170)
    Locutis of Borg tells Riker that "it's not so bad in here!"
  • But this seems to indicate that the bid on Yahoo was far below what it should have been.

    Maybe this means that the bid on Yahoo should have been $400 billion instead.

    But they should also consider the fact that a company is strongly depending on it's employees, and this means that if enough employees disagrees they just leaves and the purchase will be an empty shell.

  • 800 million.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by seifried (12921) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @03:31AM (#22614240) Homepage
    For 800 million dollars I'd be willing to tell people pretty much anything about how great MSFT is.
  • by blake182 (619410) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @03:36AM (#22614248)
    Brain slug infected man tells non-brain slug infected man not to worry about brain slug infection.
  • by melted (227442) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @03:51AM (#22614286) Homepage
    You know, there are hundreds of hungry VPs in Redmond and they have buddies who they might not mind seeing in Tellme's general manager seat. They're a lot better connected than he is.
  • by RSevrinsky (10305) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @03:59AM (#22614314) Homepage
    Moe: [slowly] It's not so bad, Homer. They...go in through your
                          nose and...they let you keep the piece of brain they cut out.
                          Look!
                            [holds up a jar with a piece of brain in it]
                          Ooh! Hello! Hello there! Who's that big man there? Who's
                          that?
    Bart+Lisa: [droning] Join us, father.
            Marge: [droning] It's bliiiissss...
            Homer: Nooo!

    - "Treehouse of Horror V"
  • I had never heard of this $800 million company, so I immediately visited their website http://www.tellme.com/ [tellme.com].

    Actually, that's a lie, after watching Flash load their site for about 30 seconds (on a 4 Meg broadband connection) I gave up.

    Can someone please tell me what this Tellme thing is please.
    • by Macthorpe (960048)
      It took me less than 3 seconds on my 20 Meg connection, so you need to chat to your broadband provider.

      Not that you were missing much, mind - the website is pretty vague. Looks like directions/locations/directory services.
      • It took me less than 3 seconds on my 20 Meg connection

        20 MB/s unfortunately is prohibitively expensive for an individual - and probably most businesses, considering that 85% of all businesses have a gross revenue of less than £100,000 per annum - in most of the world.

        Tell Me again why I should care about a company whose message has been made unavailable to me through the needless use of bandwidth.
        Or perhaps that's what their business is really doing - in my day they called that churn and it'
        • by Macthorpe (960048)
          Except it's 20Mbps, not 20MBps, and it's only 5 times faster than yours, and it only costs me £35 per month.

          Seeing as you're using pounds, not dollars, you must be oblivious [virginmedia.com] to the speeds available in your own country.
    • THIS IS ZOMBO.COM!

      http://www.zombo.com/ [zombo.com]

      you can do anything....anything at all....
    • 30 seconds on an 8Mbit connection got me slowly up to 35% and then I bailed out. Whetever they do, they need to fire their Web designer and/or hosting company
    • Apparently, they are a

      provider of voice services for everyday life, including nationwide directory assistance, enterprise customer service and voice-enabled mobile search.

      because

      [...] [they] and Microsoft share a common vision around the limitless potential of voice as a way to find information, connect with people and enhance business processes, any time and from any device.

      `the limitless potential of voice as a way to find information'... whoever wrote that should be chaired.

  • "Drink the cool aid. We'll all be fine."
  • by Ilgaz (86384) * on Sunday March 02, 2008 @10:37AM (#22615266) Homepage
    (Thanks to a hotmail victim friend)

    Safari 3 on OS X Leopard:

    Hotmail: "This is hotmail light version, to get all hotmail features upgrade to Internet Explorer 6"
    Yahoo: "Yahoo mail beta works with Safari 3 now!"

    That is the difference between MS and Yahoo.
  • brief summery of the text:

    "I, for one, welcome our new redmondian overlords. You should too"
  • The cash that they'll give you and your shareholders to acquire Yahoo will make the ass-ramming less painful, unless you use Yahoo or work in the trenches at Yahoo. Then it'll just be a regular painful M$ ass-ramming.
  • and only "lol" is all i can say.

    if how a marriage is to be in future was to be understood from its first 10 months - man, i cant even find anything to say on that

From Sharp minds come... pointed heads. -- Bryan Sparrowhawk

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