Microsoft Turns The Tables, Challenges DoubleClick Purchase On Antitrust Grounds

Last year, Google tried to make the argument that Microsoft's decision to connect the searchbar in IE7 to its own search engine was an antitrust violation and that it warranted review by the Justice Department. Not only was this argument specious, it seemed like a dangerous move for the company to make. After all, you'd think that a company with Google's online dominance would be hesitant about strengthening antitrust regulations. Since then, there has been plenty of discussion about whether the DOJ might one day set its sights on Google, particularly as it expands the number of areas in which it competes. Now, in the wake of its announced acquisition of DoubleClick, a number of the company's rivals, including Microsoft, Yahoo and AT&T, are urging the government to closely examine the deal from an antitrust perspective. The main argument is that Google is already dominant in terms of online advertising, and that the addition of DoubleClick would give it a stranglehold on the industry. The argument mainly sounds like sour grapes from companies that are having a hard time competing. Although Google is paying a considerable amount for DoubleClick, it's nowhere near as dominant as it used to be; with revenue around $300 million, it's a tiny addition to Google's more than $10 billion in revenue over the last year. More importantly, the internet advertising market looks extraordinarily healthy and competitive, as there's a proliferation of startups in this space. Furthermore, as Paul Kedrosky points out, the DOJ was always going to look into this deal, no matter what, which underlines the idea that this complaint is mainly designed to take a cheap shot at Google rather than invite inquiry into a serious issue. However, regardless of the complaint's merits, it's clear that from now on Google can expect to get the Microsoft treatment (circa 1998) whenever it wants to make a major deal.


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  1.  
    identicon
    Not So Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 3:33pm

    I'm still amazed that they let the oil companies merge. (Conoco & Philips 76, Chevron & Texaco, Exxon & Mobil). In that situation, that cut out nearly 1/2 of the "big names", given that each of them had a fairly even portion of the market. Once the first one was approved, the others had to scramble to merge to maintain a steady market presence.

    For Google and DC, this is a big guy taking over a little guy, but there will still be plenty of other competition from the other big players, as well as the other annoying startups who will push their crappy flash ads on the internet populous.

    Why should this deal be different than anything else.

    I reference the Colbert Report's AT&T/Cingular parody here. With the 80's sentiment gone, I'm waiting to see more and more of this going on and being approved.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Fullman, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 3:52pm

    It's not DoubleClick's revenue...

    It's not necessarily about the revenue Google would get if they acquired DoubleClick... it's the delivery methods, partners and technology DoubleClick holds that would significantly tip the scale in Google's favor, which would destabilize an already-shaky advertising industry. MS has every right to make this type of complaint after Google dangerously set the precedence last year by going to the DOJ and the EU for something they do themselves (you know, cutting a deal with Dell to have their software and engines preinstalled and configured on their machines, having it as the default (and paid) placement in Firefox, etc.). Google opened the door and MS is going to walk through it any time they want now. Something about waking a sleeping giant... It's not sour grapes... it's getting even, and its justified.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    fewquid, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 3:57pm

    I wonder...

    Paul Kedrosky thinks Yahoo will be in play sometime soon. I wonder if this whole outbid-for-doubleclick thing is a MS play to prevent Google from buying Yahoo down the road...

    If Yahoo was in play, MS and Google would be the obvious bidders. If Google was already in the anti-trust spotlight, it could make it harder for them to outbid MS...

    Hmmmmmmm.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Resolute, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 6:12pm

    Google

    These other companies should just give in to the inevitable right now. Its obvious that Google will control everything in due time, they should just surrender now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Spootieho!, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 7:16pm

    Google has lost their innovative edge. Instead of creating a better product and marketing it for under 1 billion, they decided to use shareholder money to buy out their competitor for 3 billion. I believe that Google could have taken every one of DC's affiliates and created a better product for much less. Shareholders have allowed Google to get lazy.

    The only reason for Google to pay 3 billion for a company that only generates 150 million per year, is to own the market. They are trying to create a monopoly where then they can fix prices.

    With the amount of money that Google is throwing around , shareholders should expect some dividends. I dont know how the shareholders, who own the company, allow the company to throw their money away and not compensate the shareholders.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Vincent Clement (profile), Apr 16th, 2007 @ 9:00pm

    Re:

    The 5 to 10 percent increase in share value since the DoubleClick announcement sounds like fair compensation to shareholders.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    james, Apr 23rd, 2007 @ 2:58pm

    this is rich

    "Now, in the wake of its announced acquisition of DoubleClick, a number of the company's rivals, including Microsoft, Yahoo and AT&T, are urging the government to closely examine the deal from an antitrust perspective. The main argument is that Google is already dominant in terms of online advertising, and that the addition of DoubleClick would give it a stranglehold on the industry."

    there is so many things wrong with this I don't even know to begin. Maybe the best way to sum it up is this.

    I got an email to try the "new" IPTV from att and went to follow the links and what do you know I did not pass the browser test. I am running firefox on linux but of course I needed windows and IE to pass the test.

    I think this says it all in a nutshell - never ran across a google web page or app that wouldn't work with my os and browser.

    microsoft just wants to control the API's of the internet. plain and simple and I hope the DOJ looks at that very closely and this new IPTV and that they make every OS that people chose to use work with it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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