Benner on Tech: Yahoo Outmaneuvers Microsoft

Katie Benner is a Bloomberg View columnist who writes about technology, innovation, and the cult and culture of Silicon Valley. She lives in San Francisco.
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Yahoo and Microsoft updated their search agreement to let either party walk away from their partnership on or after Oct. 1 of this year. The clause was revealed in a Yahoo regulatory filing, and it’s part of a new deal that also gives Yahoo better terms for the revenue sharing agreement between the two sides.

This is a slight win for Yahoo and slight loss for Microsoft; in the near term it doesn’t matter too much because both sides need one another. As the Wall Street Journal notes, Yahoo needs Microsoft’s Bing for the infrastructure to deliver Web search results. Microsoft needs Yahoo for traffic. But someday … eventually … hopefully … Yahoo could use its new-found freedom to pursue its own interests in search.

If you don’t have anything nice to say …

For the love of God, don’t tweet it. But if you do please use this app, Clear, to censor yourself. It takes more work, presumably, than something like, but it’s a hell of a lot cheaper. (It’s free!)

Clear was developed by Ethan Czahor, who was hired to be Jeb Bush’s chief technology officer then quickly fired when his old tweets surfaced. Bloomberg’s David Weigel writes:

Most people don't know that 'halloween' is German for 'night that girls with low self-esteem dress like sluts," tweeted Czahor then. "I know lindsey lohan is supposed to die soon, but i'd sure like to sleep with her before that happens." And so on.

Tesla on the Brink

When Tesla was on the verge of bankruptcy, Elon Musk almost sold the company to Google. My Bloomberg Businessweek colleague Ashlee Vance has all the details in the excerpt from his new book "Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future." My favorite quote is from Larry Page, who declined to comment on the deal but said: "[A] car company is pretty far from what Google knows."

History in the Making

You can download your entire Google search history. That means your whole search history actually exists as a single thing -- a single thing that somebody, someday will surely steal and share. We can all now live under a cloud of abject, paranoid fear as one by one, the hackers come for us. When WikiLeaks finally makes your pilfered history easily searchable, everyone will find out about that time you Googled “Can Hemorrhoid Pain Kill You.” This day will forever be known to you as “Amy Pascal’s Revenge.”

Earnings Roundup

IBM’s first-quarter earnings of $2.91 a share beat analysts' estimates. (Bloomberg)

Yahoo reports today. Wall Street will want to know more about layoffs, cost cuts, growth in mobile and video and more intel on M&A and monetizing Yahoo Japan. Barron’s has a handy guide to what investors are saying ahead of the results.

Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Qualcomm report later this week.


Oscar, a health insurance startup, raised $145 million and is now valued at $1.5 billion. (Fortune)

Slack is more than just a private company with a monster valuation. It's also an enabler of corporate hijinks. (Slate)

Spotify’s first quarter ad revenue grew 53 percent from the previous year. Mobile ad revenue soared 380 percent. (Music Business Worldwide)

Uber is working with Capital One to give cardholders deals on rides. (Bloomberg) A judge ruled that blind plaintiffs in a discrimination case can sue the company under the Americans with Disabilities Act. (Reuters)

First quarter startup funding and the median valuation of venture-backed companies hit their highest levels since 2000. (the Wall Street Journal) Mark Leslie, of Leslie Ventures, explains why the good times keep rolling.

Also, this:

People and Personnel Moves

ICYMI: Genius founders Ilan Zechory and Tom Lehman turned to couples counseling to work through their relationship as startup co-founders. (the New York Times) It reminds me of this oldie but goodie about Y Combinator founders who turn to YC co-founder Jessica Livingston for help when they can’t get along. (the Information)


Google updated its ranking algorithm to take into account whether a page functions well on a tiny mobile device. It only affects searches on smartphones, not tablets or desktop computers. (Search Engine Land)

Groupon sold a controlling stake in the South Korean company Ticket Monster to KKR in a deal that values the ticket site at $782 million, well above the $260 million Groupon paid for it. (the Wall Street Journal)

IBM’s CEO Ginni Rometty has a harder turnaround task than her predecessors because the areas she needs to shift to -- including data analytics, machine learning and cybersecurity -- aren’t areas that IBM can easily dominate. (the Wall Street Journal)

Netflix is betting on original content as the future of the company. (the New York Times)

Nokia plans to release a phone next year, and the company is working on virtual reality projects. (Re/code)

Twitter is selling tickets on its service to events like Atlanta Hawks games and a Slayer concert as its e-commerce strategy takes shape. (Bloomberg) It’s also letting users send and receive direct messages from people they don’t follow, a move that's freaking out people who are afraid of online harassment. (Business Insider)

Security Watch

U.S. cybersecurity startups raised $1.77 billion from private investors last year, the most since 2000. (the Wall Street Journal)

The government can’t keep cybersecurity talent. (the Washington Post)

Media Files

Riptide is an oral history of the ongoing clash between journalism and digital technology, from 1980 to the present, put together by the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy. It’s pretty in-depth with lots of great interviews, and you should spend the week taking it in.

News and Notes

Smartwatches that run on Android Wear (generally speaking) aren’t as slick-looking as the Apple Watch, but you can leave your phone at home and they’ll still work. (Wired)

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the editor on this story:
Maria Lamagna at