订阅

多平台阅读

微信订阅

杂志

申请纸刊赠阅

订阅每日电邮

移动应用

商业 - 科技

一箭6雕:谷歌收购雅虎的如意算盘

Kevin Kelleher 2011年10月28日

目前,雅虎看不到明朗的发展前景;相反,有关雅虎并购的流言却甚嚣尘上。在这样的情况下,谷歌为何还要甘冒风险,趟这滩浑水?以下六点就是谷歌参与雅虎并购的潜在原因。

    如果一家公司长时间陷入被挂牌出售的处境,那么关于其命运的各种传言最终就会卷土重来。2008年,微软向雅虎“抛出绣球”,当时雅虎(Yahoo)联合创始人杨致远坚决表示,这家网络巨头是非卖品。之后,谷歌(Google)也参与到了收购竞标中。

    时间来到2011年,杨致远依然对收购传闻的报道轻描淡写。而潜在收购方中,依然有微软(Microsoft)的身影,不过据报道,微软此次将与其他投资方联合出资竞购。很快,第二天便有报道称谷歌也有意出资私人投资机构收购雅虎。

    谷歌参与此项收购有可能以失败收场,个中原因可能多种多样。首先,《华尔街日报》(Wall Street Journal)的报道中,只有单一的消息源透露了谷歌参与竞购的可能性,而且这位身份不明的“消息人士”还表示“谷歌本身或许不会参与对雅虎公司的收购”。同时谷歌还存在反垄断的顾虑:2008年,美国司法部(Department of Justice)便否决了谷歌与雅虎的搜索业务合作计划。此次,不论谷歌采取哪种方式参与竞购,肯定都会引起政府的密切关注。此外,谷歌还必须考虑交易的战略意义——也有可能正是因为这笔交易缺乏战略价值。谷歌未来的发展重点将集中在社交与手机业务——而雅虎在这两个方面均无优势可言。

    尽管如此,这并不意味着谷歌搭救雅虎就是吃力不讨好。考虑到以下六种可能的情况,收购雅虎对谷歌来说或许不失为一桩美事:

    谷歌此举可以为其他公司的收购策略制造麻烦。最常见的说法是,谷歌是想抬高微软或其他收购方的出价。而谷歌只需让所谓的知情人士给媒体打个电话便能达到目的。周一,谷歌参与竞购的消息传出后不久,雅虎公司股票便上涨了4%。不过,此举的风险在于,雅虎股价的小幅上涨不可能持久。换言之,这则报道最多只能延缓微软方面的交易进度。所以,谷歌最有可能的做法是,加入雅虎收购暗战,让微软仔细掂量,小心行事。甚至有可能在微软犹豫不决之际,直接促使其打消念头。而且,这样一来,也可以打消规模更小的第三方参与竞购的念头。

    谷歌希望扩大显示广告业务的影响力。雅虎的显示广告业务一直萎靡不振,而谷歌的此项业务却在不断增长,平均每年为谷歌带来25亿美元的收入。不过,雅虎的优势在于,它与最大的网络广告商以及流行网站都保持着密切关系。注资雅虎将使谷歌打开通往雅虎显示广告客户的大门,进而加快业务增长速度。当然,该举措必然会引发反垄断问题。

    雅虎可以为Google +带来更多用户。目前,对于大多数人而言,Facebook依然是首选的在线社交网站。虽然仅仅几个月时间,Google+的用户便达到4,000万,但这一数字仅为Facebook活跃用户(8亿)的5%。谷歌需要获得更多活跃账户,而雅虎恰恰拥有这方面的资源。而且,在社交网络基础设施方面,雅虎的表现远远落后于谷歌。由于社交网络依赖的是大量用户,因此,将雅虎的会员纳入到Google +的体系中,将使谷歌成为Facebook的强劲对手。

    谷歌希望深入了解雅虎。若投资者与一家公司正式商讨收购案,他们通常会要求该公司提供有关财务与绩效指标的数据。私募基金投资机构财力有限,如果谷歌为它们提供资金,即便最终谈判失败,谷歌依然可以得到这些数据。虽然雅虎本身的数据可能对谷歌的意义不大,但雅虎手头依然掌握着大量对谷歌非常有价值的其他数据,例如:雅虎与微软的搜索合作进展如何?雅虎显示广告业务有哪些优势,又有哪些劣势?雅虎如何看待国际市场,尤其是亚洲市场?此外,如果微软也参与竞购,谷歌也可能获得微软这方面的数据。既然如此,谷歌何乐而不为呢?

    谷歌可借助雅虎回归中国。谷歌的中国业务可谓命运多舛,这段坎坷的历程在去年最终公司决定关闭其中国业务是达到了顶点。而雅虎的优势之一就是其在中国的资产,包括公司持有阿里巴巴(Alibaba)40%的股份。

    最接近事实的推测也许是这样的:如果谷歌拥有了雅虎的股份,那它就间接持有了中国互联网巨头阿里巴巴的股份。这样一来,谷歌也就有机会重返不断壮大的中国市场。而且,它还可以断绝阿里巴巴收购雅虎的可能性。因为一旦马云入主雅虎,他势必会从在线支付到搜索和显示广告等各个方面对谷歌造成严重威胁。这样的理由是否有点牵强?当然,但不知是否巧合,谷歌周一宣布,中国已经换发了其在该国的经营许可证。谷歌中国前负责人也曾在在线问答网站Quora中表示,阿里巴巴和马云并不适合管理雅虎。弦外之音不言而喻:“但是谷歌适合。”

    投资雅虎可以转移反垄断监管部门的注意力。谷歌或许会有兴趣帮助雅虎重新崛起,这样就不会让自己背上“搜索垄断”的名声。没有了雅虎,谷歌将会在搜索和显示广告这两个领域一家独大,自然也就成为反垄断监管机构密切关注的目标。这种关注给谷歌带来的伤害,远远大于雅虎复兴的影响。

    类似的先例早在1997年便已上演。当时,微软便曾向困难重重的苹果公司(Apple)注资1.5亿美元。表面上来看,这份投资是想鼓励苹果在Mac电脑上安装Office软件和IE,但同时也使得反垄断机构陷入被动。(题外话:微软后来抛售了手中的苹果股份,否则,这些股份的价值将高达数十亿美元。)

    雅虎的未来依然被重重迷雾所笼罩,目前看来,任何事情都可能发生。例如,与美国在线(AOL)合并,被马云收购,被微软或谷歌支持的私人投资公司全盘收购等等。不过,可以肯定的是,尽管杨致远煞费苦心,但雅虎保持独立公司地位的希望是越来越渺茫了。

    译者:阿龙/汪皓

    If a company stays on the auction block long enough, rumors about its fate will eventually begin to repeat themselves. In 2008, while Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang insisted the web giant wasn't for sale, Microsoft emerged as a suitor. Then Google got involved.

    Fast forward to 2011 and here's Jerry Yang again downplaying reports of a Yahoo (YHOO) acquisition. Among the suitors is, again, Microsoft (MSFT), only this time it's reportedly bankrolling a deal by joint buyers. And as the day follows the dawn, reports followed quickly that Google (GOOG) is also interested in financing private investors looking to buy Yahoo.

    There are plenty of reasons a Google-backed deal would not pan out. First, the Wall Street Journal story reporting the possibility was based on a single source -- that elusive "person familiar with the matter" -- who said that "Google may end up not pursuing a bid." Then there are the antitrust concerns: the Department of Justice shot down the 2008 search partnership Google wanted to arrange with Yahoo. The government would surely take a close look at any moves backed by Google. And then there are the strategic reasons -- or lack of them. Much of Google's future is focused on social and mobile -- and Yahoo is weaker in both.

    Still, that doesn't mean there's no virtue for Google in saving Yahoo. Here are six possible scenarios in which it might actually be a good idea:

    Google is throwing sand in the gears of another deal. The most cited theory is that Google wants to drive up the price for Microsoft or another bidder. A simple phone call by someone familiar with the matter to a reporter is all it would take. Yahoo's stock rose 4% Monday following the report. The risk in this move is that this slight rise in Yahoo's share price won't last long. In other words, this report would at best delay a Microsoft-backed deal. Much more likely is that Google would try to get into the Yahoo-takeover mix to give Microsoft second thoughts -- or even drive it away if it's on the fence. It could also deter smaller third parties from pursuing their own bid at all.

    Google wants a bigger presence in display ads. Revenue from display ads are disappointing at Yahoo but they're growing at Google, which is making $2.5 billion a year from them. Yahoo, however, has deep relationships with the web's biggest advertisers as well as many popular sites. If putting Google's money into Yahoo could open up access to Yahoo's display customers, Google could see more display growth. Such a move would surely set off antitrust alarms.

    Yahoo could bring more users to Google+. For most people, Facebook is still the go-to place to socialize with friends online. Google+ has signed up 40 million users in a few months, but that's only 5% of Facebook's 800 million active users. What Google needs is access to more active accounts -- and Yahoo still has a lot of them. Yahoo, meanwhile, is even further behind Google when it comes to having a social-networking infrastructure. Since social networks rely on big numbers of users, corralling Yahoo members into Google+ would help Google build a strong rival to Facebook.

    Google wants a closer look at Yahoo. When investors enter serious takeover talks with a company, they often demand a look at its financials and performance metrics. By backing some private equity investors who might otherwise have trouble raising money, Google can have access to all that data, even if the talks eventually fall through. There may not be much of Yahoo's data that is crucial for Google to know, but there's plenty that could be helpful: How is Yahoo's search partnership with Microsoft really faring? Where is Yahoo's display business strong, and where is it weak? What insights does Yahoo have in international markets, particularly Asia? What's more, if Microsoft is involved in a takeover bid, it may have access to this same data. So why shouldn't Google have access too?

    Yahoo offers Google a backdoor to China. Google's history in China is a rocky one, culminating in the company's decision to shut down its China operations last year. But one of Yahoo's strengths is its assets in China, including its 40% stake in Alibaba.

    The truly speculative will consider this: If Google owned a stake in Yahoo, it would indirectly own a stake in Alibaba, one of China's Internet giants. That could offer a way back into a growing market. It could also derail any chance that Alibaba would buy Yahoo. If Jack Ma controlled Yahoo, he could undercut Google on everything from online payment fees to search and display ad rates. Far-fetched? Sure, but coincidentally or not, Google said Monday that China renewed its operating license in the country. And the former head of Google China said on Quora that Alibaba and Ma aren't suited to manage Yahoo. It's hard not to read that and think, "but Google is."

    Investing in Yahoo will keep antitrust regulators off Google's back. Google may be interested in helping Yahoo to thrive to lessen its chance of becoming a search monopoly. Without Yahoo around, Google could become so powerful in search and display ads that antitrust regulators end up doing more harm than a revitalized Yahoo ever could.

    There is a precedent for such a move. In 1997, Microsoft invested $150 million in a struggling Apple (AAPL). Ostensibly, the investment was to encourage Apple to install Office and Internet Explorer onto Mac computers, but it also served to keep antitrust regulators at bay. (A side note: Microsoft later sold off its Apple shares, which would be worth several billion dollars today).

    Yahoo's future is unpredictable, so much so it seems like any outcome is possible at this point: A merger with AOL (AOL), a takeover by Jack Ma, a buyout by private equity firms financed in part by Microsoft, or Google, or someone else. But one thing that is growing less likely is the scenario that Jerry Yang wants -- an independent Yahoo.

我来点评

  最新文章

最新文章:

500强情报中心

财富专栏