Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz suggested June 3 that a long-rumored search deal between Microsoft and Yahoo would save her company between $500 million and $700 million, mostly in staff reductions and data center cutbacks.
However, Bartz also used her podium at the Bank of America and Merrill Lynch U.S. Technology Conference in New York on June 3 to suggest that Yahoo remains a viable competitor in the search space, without any assistance from Microsoft.
"I personally think we'd be better off if we never heard the word Microsoft," Bartz told the audience.
In the meantime, Yahoo will continue to devote itself to streamlining its business processes and reducing its more unwieldy operations into a more manageable form. Besides slashing its work force by 5 percent, Yahoo has been axing unprofitable properties, including GeoCities, the Web page-building service it originally purchased for 3.6 billion in 1999.
The U.S. Technology Conference marks the second time in as many weeks that Bartz has hinted about the possibility of talks between Yahoo and Microsoft. At the D: All Things Digital conference May 26 to 28, in Carlsbad, Calif., Bartz suggested that she would sell Yahoo's search apparatus to Microsoft in exchange for "boatloads of money."
During the same interview, Bartz said Yahoo would consider being sold in its entirety to Microsoft only if the latter offered "big boatloads of money." In 2008, Microsoft attempted a hostile buyout that Yahoo repelled at the cost of dramatically lowered stock price and then-CEO Jerry Yang, who left the company by the end of the year.
At the June 3 conference, Bartz also had some characteristically blunt words about Bing, Microsoft's new search engine designed to allow users to conduct specialized searches for travel and shopping in addition to the traditional search engine experience.
"They're not going to get scale through Bing," Bartz said, adding that interest in the search engine would be "temporary."
Microsoft hopes that Bing will allow it to seize some market share from search engine giant Google, which according to a recent ComScore report held 64.2 percent of the U.S. core search engine market in April. In that same report, Yahoo came in second with 20.4 percent of the market, followed by Microsoft with 8.2 percent.
Bing lets users drill down into specific search categories, such as Videos, Shopping, News, Maps and Travel; Microsoft has stated that its aim with the product is to help customers make better decisions.