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Out of Left Field: Vmware Acquires Sliderocket

sliderocket logoQuick initial reaction: scratching head.

Vmware recently shook up the Cloud Computing world with the launch of Cloud Foundry and I think most of us would have pegged them as an infrastructure company.  Then all of a sudden they buy Sliderocket, the great collaborative presentations company.  Why is this a big deal?  Probably not for the $ value, but it may show Vmware’s intentions of getting in the Cloud Apps business big time.

After all, they already have an almost forgotten asset, Zimbra.  Microsoft, Google, Salesforce, Zoho … watch out! Smile

P.S.  I guess the phones are ringing at Vmware, with every single Cloud App startup trying to get bought…

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Acquisition Offer

I’ve just received a most serious acquisition offer.   Given their domain, I can’t help but wonder about the strategic fit :-)

Hi,

We are interested in possibly acquiring your website, www.zoliblog.com, as it
would be a good strategic fit for our web portfolio.
If you’re interested in discussing further please let me know.

A little about us -  we are representing a small and privately owned company
with a $5 million fund for investing in websites.
They are headquartered in Denver with offices in Philippines and India and a
workforce of around 100 people between all offices.  Please also note that our
due diligence process is painless – all we care about is *traffic* so when the
time comes we will need to see your Google Analytics
and then can submit a firm bid to you. We pay all cash — no "earn-outs" and
other gimmicks.

I hope to hear from you soon.
Thanks,
………..
Strategic Acquisitions Group
name@wankmedia.com

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Amazon, the World’s Default Shopping Destination (or is it Zamazon now?)

Capture Recently I wrote about PaaS by Amazon – an no, as much as we like thinking of Amazon as the the key Cloud Computing infrastructure provider, it wasn’t about Platform as a Service.  It was about Pasta as a Service.  Yes, I am buying Al Dente Carba-Nada as a subscription.

After all, before it become the uber-cloud-provider, Amazon started in retail – actually, as the company that revolutionized retail forever.

Do you know how many product search / comparison engines there are today?   I don’t.   A few years ago if I wanted to find something online, I probably used those comparison engines – then a funny thing happened.  I noticed that I would end up @ Amazon – direct or via a Marketplace vendor – anyway. Might as well stop wasting time…  nowadays I will still research major electronics, but for less than $100 purchases I will simply jump to Amazon.  They do not always have the best price, but often enough, and the convenience of shopping from a trusted source, safe delivery and excellent service (no-questions-asked refund when my netbook developed a problem)  makes it a no-brainer.

We’re also converting our real-world shopping to Amazon: would you spend a few hours driving around looking for a stupid little spare part, or just order it online, even if shipping makes it a few bucks more expensive?  (i.e. is two hours of your time worth $5?)  I’m clearly not the only one: the UPS truck, formerly rarely seen in residential areas makes its stops in my street every day now.  But back to Amazon, here’s a trick to save on shipping: a lot of products are eligible for Free Super Saver shipping when you spent $25. How many times did you search for a penny-item to buy when your total came to $24.19?   Add the non-immediate purchases to your “shopping list”, then bundle them with a larger purchase next time.

Another option to get free delivery and shave off an additional 15%: Subscribe and Save.  Who would have thought one day we’d be subscribing to groceries?   But it makes sense when it comes to regularly consumed items. I have subscriptions for tea,  sunscreen and several other products that are not easy to find in regular stores, I am using regularly, and the subscription price is favorable @ Amazon.  Subscription does not mean hard commitment: you can adjust the frequency of delivery, skip individual shipments, request immediate shipment and even cancel without any penalty (phone companies better pay attention!).

In short, Amazon has become my default vendor by good price and convenience.  With a few exceptions, and shoes were on of them – until today.  Zappos is (has been?) arguably the world’s best online source to buy shoes.

But it’s not primarily a shoe-seller.  It’s the Ultimate Customer Service company.  Shopping at Zappos means a few things:

  • best price (or close to it)
  • easy sizing
  • crowdsourced feedback
  • painless, no-hassles, free returns (two-way postage included)

In other words not only they have the largest inventory of shoes (the choice is actually overwhelming) they invented the formula for risk free, convenient shopping  – why even get in the car and go to shoe stores?

Well, now it’s all part of Amazon in a transaction just shy of $1 Billion.  Zappos CEO Toni Hsieh assured his employees and customers he would continue to run Zappos as it is.   I believe him – for now, since once again, Zappos is all about service.  They have a better model than Amazon, and would quickly lose customers if Amazon fully integrated them, applying their own (otherwise outstanding, just not Zappos-level) return policies.  And it’s not like there’s nowhere else to run: my personal favorite has been ShoeBuy, which may be a Zappos copy-cat, but it perfected the art: same service principles, and often slightly lower prices.

If Zappos blinks and becomes too Amazon-ized, ShoeBuy will thrive.  Otherwise they better watch out.  And oh..hm… I don’t want to be in the shoes (pun intended) of many current shoe-sellers on Amazon.

Related posts:

(Cross-posted @ CloudAve)

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YahoOL

This is a shameless reprint of my post exactly two months ago:

Yahoo running to AOL to avoid assimilation by the (Micro-)Borg?  Hm… I don’t know which one is worse. (Actually, I do.)   The funny (actually, sad) thing is, most of my Best MicroHoo quotes apply to a Yahoo/AOL situation, you just have to replace Microsoft with AOLsmile_sad

Stowe Boyd:

Personally, I think the Microsoft and Yahoo matchup is like two tired swimmers who bump into each other and then wind up drowning each other in their scramble to survive. But Yahoo will be the first to go under in this embrace.

Fake Steve Jobs:

It’s like taking the two guys who finished second and third in a 100-yard dash and tying their legs together and asking for a rematch, believing that now they’ll run faster.

Imagine a circus act in which two enormous, clumsy, awkward elephants that don’t really like each other are supposed to mate while riding on skateboards.

Oh, well… a sad soap opera.  smile_omg

 

Related posts (a few of the many): Silicon Alley Insider, TechCrunchBoomTown, BloggingStocks, Technology news, Tech Beat, HipMojo.com, Deal Journal, Mark Evans, TECH.BLORGE.com, BuzzMachineMarketingVOX

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How to Hire Bill Gates to Demo your Startup’s Product

Actually, I don’t know how, but Xobni apparently does: Bill Gates presented Xobni for Outlook as “the next generation of social networking” (is that why he quit Facebook?) at the Microsoft Office Developers Conference yesterday (video here).

Now, let’s think for a minute. What does it mean when Bill Gates presents your product, a super-cool Outlook plugin to his crowd of developers?

  1. Gates’s message: now go back and copy this fast. That would be the classic Microsoft style, as many software startups can attest to. It would also put the market introduction to somewhere … around 2015? Unlikely.
  2. Microsoft will acquire Xobni in no time. Sweet and fast deal. Congratulations to the Xobni team and investors! martini

Update (2/15): Xobni has a new CEO: Jeff Bonforte, Yahoo’s vice president of social search until now. Did he just escape from one Microsoft acquisition and get into another one? ;-)

Update (3/2): TechCrunch has sources confirming the Microsoft negotiations.

Update (3/20): Bob Warfield believes Microsoft is about to close the deal with Xobni.

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YahoOL?

Yahoo running  to AOL to avoid  assimilation by the (Micro-)Borg?  Hm… I don’t know which one is worse. (Actually, I do.)   The funny (actually, sad) thing is, most of my Best MicroHoo quotes apply to a Yahoo/AOL situation, you just have to replace Microsoft with AOLsmile_sad

Stowe Boyd:

Personally, I think the Microsoft and Yahoo matchup is like two tired swimmers who bump into each other and then wind up drowning each other in their scramble to survive. But Yahoo will be the first to go under in this embrace.

Fake Steve Jobs:

It’s like taking the two guys who finished second and third in a 100-yard dash and tying their legs together and asking for a rematch, believing that now they’ll run faster.

Imagine a circus act in which two enormous, clumsy, awkward elephants that don’t really like each other are supposed to mate while riding on skateboards.

Oh, well… a sad soap opera.  smile_omg

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The Best MicroHoo Quotes

There’s hardly anything new to add to the MSFT/YHOO story, except two great quotes.

Stowe Boyd:

Personally, I think the Microsoft and Yahoo matchup is like two tired swimmers who bump into each other and then wind up drowning each other in their scramble to survive. But Yahoo will be the first to go under in this embrace.

Fake Steve Jobs:

It’s like taking the two guys who finished second and third in a 100-yard dash and tying their legs together and asking for a rematch, believing that now they’ll run faster.

Now, for the best part: this last one isn’t from FSJ, after all.. it’s from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer himself. (that is if you can believe anything a blog with Fake in the title sayssmile_omg)

Ballmer said he loved when his rivals merged, because whenever the also-rans in any market start teaming up they might as well be waving a white flag. Because it’s over. You’ve beaten them. You’ve driven them to despair. They haven’t been able to beat you on their own; there’s no way they’ll do it together. Then he told me that line about the hundred-yard dash.

Btw, this Fake Steve post is not exactly short of great metaphors. Here’s one describing the post-merger integration (you know, the stage where all mergers fail):

Imagine a circus act in which two enormous, clumsy, awkward elephants that don’t really like each other are supposed to mate while riding on skateboards.

and this one:

That giant buzzing sound you hear is the whirring of photocopiers in Redmond revving up and spitting out resumes.

It’s worth reading in full.

Update (2/4): Robert Scoble’s version: Put two turkeys together and you don’t get an eagle.

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Breaking: MicroHoo!

After all the speculation, it finally happened: there’s a Microsoft (MSFT) offer on the table to acquire Yahoo (YHOO) for a mix of cash and stock valued at $44.6 Billion, which is about a 62%  premium to Yahoo’s current market valuation.  Well.. current as of yesterday, when it closed at $19.18 – right now, pre-market it trades at $30.80, almost at the offer price of $31. (I suspect some early buyers will regret that…)

Update: Here’s the “you’ve failed” part from Steven Ballmer’s letter to the Yahoo Board, fully quoted on ZDNet:

In February 2007, I received a letter from your Chairman indicating the view of the Yahoo! Board that “now is not the right time from the perspective of our shareholders to enter into discussions regarding an acquisition transaction.” According to that letter, the principal reason for this view was the Yahoo! Board’s confidence in the “potential upside” if management successfully executed on a reformulated strategy based on certain operational initiatives, such as Project Panama, and a significant organizational realignment. A year has gone by, and the competitive situation has not improved.

A few early posts, before the world wakes upsmile_yawn: Between the Lines, Irregular Enterprise, Search Engine Land, TechCrunch. Parislemon’s title (and pic) is telling: Join us – or die!.