Wow, just when you think it couldn’t get any stranger in the Scobleized universe, we get this posting, quoting:
Personal note to Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates: can I have some money to get Microsoft a significant entry into the Web 2.0 market? A little more than it cost Yahoo to buy Flickr but far less than it cost eBay to buy Skype?
I have an acquisition I’d like to make.
If you give me your checkbook you’ll get permanent invites to O’Reilly’s Web 2.0 conferences for a very long time. Sorry, I can’t identify what I’m thinking of here, but promise you, it’s a big deal and will help solve some things we aren’t going to solve in Windows Vista, either. Gotta move fast, things are gonna happen at the Web 2.0 conference, next week, that will make the deal harder to make happen (and will make you look less brilliant if you do the deal afterward than before).
Call me. My cell phone is 425-205-1921.
It’s a nice touch, adding your cell phone number. But it’s a stunt.
We are to believe that this is the decision making process that Microsoft goes through in acquiring new companies: that a technical evangelist merely makes a plea on a public bulletin board, asking for money so that he can make a bid on some unnamed company, and that Gates or Ballmer should call him back, so that Scoble can write the 50 million dollar check.
Uh huh. Right.
Here’s what I think. I think it’s a stunt. It’s a stunt designed to make Microsoft appear transparent, to make Microsoft appear to move quickly, to make Microsoft respond quickly to new technological innovation by purchasing technology which they can deploy in their as yet unshipping next generation products.
Scoble tried to respond to the question why not go directly to the execs, but I think the reasoning is strange:
Now, there are risks of doing this in public. The company I want to work with us might get bigger egos and raise their price. Our competition might figure out who I’m talking about (they will anyway come this week). Or, other artifacts might show up. Personally the negotiations on the pricing probably won’t be driven by me anyway (and probably, even, aren’t driven by the company I’m thinking of).
Indeed Robert. Those are excellent reasons why negotiations of this type are not typically carried out in a public forum. Robert lists the benefits, that the company that he wants to acquire would see Microsoft as straight shooters, that his co-workers would be notified, that steve might just hand him a check, and most interestingly, that:
Folks on the outside can watch and can give us advice (as has already happened). It’s very probable that an even better company is out there being formed. If we do everything in secret no one would know to speak up.
Hmmm. Sorry, it just doesn’t ring true to me.
Consider another possibility: Scoble, in his efforts to serve his soulless robotic masters, finds that a competing company is negotiating responsibly with a small innovative company. A company that perhaps Microsoft doesn’t want to go to their competitors. Why not start a rumor that Microsoft might actually be willing to pay more for this company and disrupt their negotiations by pretending that they are in the market, and may even pay more? You don’t need to actually make it official, you could just start the rumor on your blog. Then perhaps the company to be acquired stalls, rethinks their position, raises their price, or just generally slows down the process. Perhaps this has effects even beyond the acquisition that Scoble had in mind, as other companies who are trying to market themselves to Google, Yahoo! and the like consider the possibility that maybe Robert was speaking about them.
Do I know that this is behind his posting? No, of course not. In fact, I think it’s rather unlikely. I think it vastly more likely that Scoble was merely trying to stir things up, to get people to link to him and to comment on him, while trying to take actions which make his alien overlords appear hip, fast-moving and clever. The problem is that it is much easier to explain as a stunt than as a serious move by a serious company which is ready to spend $50 million dollars.