Ballmer: YouTube Overvalued & Google Transferring Wealth From Content Owners


The Web According to Ballmer
from BusinessWeek has Microsoft CEO Steve
Ballmer questioning the value of the Google-YouTube deal and oddly warning that
Google is transferring wealth away from rights holders. It’s an odd statement,
since that’s what Microsoft wants to do as well.

First the questioning of the YouTube value:

[You’ve got to ask] could Google do whatever it is they’re hoping to buy
without paying $1.6 billion? Is YouTube really some permanent, long-term thing,
or is it a fashion?….Right now, there’s no business model for YouTube that
would justify $1.6 billion.

Though strangely, when BusinessWeek tries to pindown what seems a clear
statement that Google overpaid, Ballmer says:

I’m not saying it is overvalued. I’m not trying to say that. It depends on a
set of factors. I’m not saying I wouldn’t write a check for that amount of
money. I might.

And back to the controversial statement about Google’s relations with
content:

And what about the rights holders? At the end of the day, a lot of the
content that’s up there is owned by somebody else.

The truth is what Google is doing now is transferring the wealth out of the
hands of rights holders into Google. So media companies around the world are
all threatened by Google. Why? Because basically Google is telling you how
much of your ad revenue you get to keep. They better get some competition. Us.
Yahoo! (YHOO). Somebody better break through or you can short all media stocks
right now. As long as there are two, you can hold onto media stocks. Google
understands that. And that’s one reason why they’re willing to lose money up
front.

Microsoft has its own video sharing service up,
Soapbox. It has a question answering
service, Q&A. It has an entire search engine that crawls the web like Google,
Windows Live.
Microsoft has
plans
for contextual placement of ads on pages, similar to AdSense.
It’s
specific
to MSN content now, but that will inevitably change. All of these
things leverage the content of others in order to make money from Microsoft. So
if these actions leverage wealth away from content owners, Microsoft is just as
guilty of it as Google.

Frankly, all Ballmer seems to be saying is content owners would be better off
if Microsoft was a strong third participant in ad game. Sure — but let’s not
kid ourselves. Microsoft gets a lot better off by that as well, and it didn’t
jump into the game out of some desire to counter-balance the power of Google.
It’s in it to make as much money as it can, as well.

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