The European Commission has an April 2 deadline to render judgment on whether or not Google's $3.1 billion bid for ad tool provider DoubleClick is anti-competitive enough to hurt the industry.
However, reports from Reuters suggest the organization's competitive watchdogs could actually let Google pass go and collect $200 as soon as next week. The FTC blessed the deal in December, setting a solid precedent for Google.
More telling, the approval has been expected because the commission did not formally object to the deal. When you get right down to it, DoubleClick will provide Google complementary ad-serving tools Google doesn't really offer to this point.
Directly, it's not more of the same for Google, but it sure will give the company greater inroads into selling ads because DoubleClick hoards a lot of user data that Google covets.
Can you blame the EC for greenlighting GoogleClick with what's coming down the pike regarding the Microhoo merger? A merger of Microsoft and Yahoo is a much bigger kettle of fish, and appears to be headed toward a nasty proxy fight and a hostile takeover.
To me, it makes total sense why the EC would want to get Google-DoubleClick off its plate; as a merger, it pales in comparison to the complicated marriage of two behemoths.
One is a desktop software powerhouse; the other is an Internet powerhouse. Together, they have many moving parts of overlap, including SharePoint and Office and Yahoo's Zimbra assets.
The FTC, DOJ and the EC will have a much more difficult task ahead of it if Microsoft continues to aggressively pursue its search and ad rival in an attempt to bridge the gap between itself and Google.
My feeling is these groups have turned a jaundiced eye toward Google's objections because the search vendor will still have more market share than Microsoft and Yahoo combined. These groups won't kill the deal over any anti-competitive grounds.
No, Microsoft's biggest and tallest task will be convincing these governmental bodies that a merger will be good for consumers, not harmful. And I have yet to see how Microsoft will prove that.
If the company gets rid of some of the Yahoo divisions, such as Zimbra, or even collapses it into its Office fold, a lot of jobs may be lost. Microsoft's Platform head has promised the company wants Yahoo for its talent as much as its Web products, but will Yahoos want to stick around?
This whole thing smells a lot like Oracle and PeopleSoft, which was incredibly messy up until the transaction closed. The FTC, DOJ and EC took a long look at that deal before letting it pass muster and that deal was worth about $10 billion, or a quarter of Microsoft's current $41 billion bid.
Just imagine how many brain cells these groups will lose scrutinizing Microhoo.