Marketing Biz: Yahoo Layoffs, Facebook Countersuit & Groupon’s Fuzzy Math

This week was full of drama. We’ve got Yahoo and Facebook in a schoolyard patent fight. Grudges? Look no further than TripAdvisor and their antitrust complaint. Betrayal? Check out Skype’s new ad campaign or track the Google Wallet exodus. Money problems? Groupon’s got that covered.

So who needs the lame looking Silicon Valley reality show on Bravo?

Yahoo layoffs signal more upheaval at flailing firm

In his first three months on the job, CEO Scott Thompson has imposed the largest layoffs in the company’s 17-year history, reshaped the board of directors, picked a potentially disruptive fight with a major shareholder and sued Facebook for patent infringement.

Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before. The problem I see is that this is really just more of the same. There are a few new wrinkles but in general it’s the same stuff again and again, every 10 months for the last four years. At the end of the day someone at Yahoo needs to stand up and tell us what the company wants to be when it grows up. Do you really think she’ll pull through?

Facebook Smacks Back at Yahoo With Patent Claims in Counter-Lawsuit

In its counter-claim filing involving 10 patents held by Facebook, the social networking giant said that Yahoo is infringing via a wide range of its offerings, including its homepage, content optimization, relevance engine, Flickr photo-sharing service and advertising throughout its huge site.

You know: The ads that make up most of Yahoo’s revenue.

Welcome to the best new Silicon Valley soap opera. Yahoo’s Scott Thompson thought it might be a good idea to try to strong-arm Facebook in the run up to their IPO. Honey badger don’t care. Mark Zuckerberg isn’t going to be slowed down by this and instead decided to throw some dust into Yahoo’s eyes.

Google Wallet Co-Founding Engineer Departs Google for Square

“When I left the Google Wallet project in January, I fully expected to stop working in payments but to remain at Google,” he said. “After meeting the team at Square, however, I decided to do the opposite. Square is doing some great things in the payment space. They have a strong leadership team and a culture that fosters innovation.”

There’s been a lot of upheaval on the Google Wallet team. And you might expect that some of those exiting Google would land at other payment companies. I have to assume no non-compete agreements are in place. However, the last line of this quote by Rob von Behren seems like a pointed commentary on Google. Or am I just seeing drama where there is none?

Google Acquires TxVia

Today, we’re thrilled to announce that we’ve acquired payments technology company TxVia to complement our payments capabilities and accelerate innovation towards our full Google Wallet vision. TxVia is a technology pioneer that offers a fast, flexible and highly reliable payments platform—which we believe is one of the best in the world.

Struggling to gain a foothold Google Wallet brings in TxVia to complement their NFC payment capabilities. Could TxVia make Google Wallet a more friendly partner? Perhaps, but the ‘full Google Wallet vision’ may still scare partners who don’t want to see Google dominate this very valuable space.

Why Groupon’s Fuzzy Math Should Worry Investors

Groupon’s latest restatement is partially a consequence of the “Groupon Promise” feature of its business model. The company pledges to refund deals if customers aren’t satisfied. Because it has been selling those deals at higher prices lately — which leads to a higher rate of returns — it needs to set aside larger amounts to account for refunds — something it hasn’t been doing. It’s another example of Groupon failing to accurately account for a part of its business that reduces its financial performance. That shouldn’t inspire investor confidence.

This news continues to throw doubt on Groupon’s primary business model. The fact that Groupon didn’t understand this very basic commerce principle is disturbing. The question is how quickly Groupon can become a SMB services provider which would reduce their exposure to the volatile daily deal space.

Skype Bashes Facebook And Twitter In Billboard Campaign

Skype Ad Campaign

The general idea of the “It’s Time for Skype” campaign, which launched in the U.S. and U.K. Tuesday, is that Twitter and Facebook text-based communications turns people into isolated social media zombies, whereas Skype is the only way to stay human while you keep in touch online.

Awkward. Take potshots at Twitter, sure, but Facebook? I don’t know whether to congratulate them on being bold and true to their vision or cringe because of the potential strain it puts on a valuable business relationship.

TripAdvisor Files Antitrust Complaint Against Google With EU

TripAdvisor’s complaint addresses “anti-competitive and unfair practices by Google that harm the marketplace and consumer welfare,” the Newton, Massachusetts-based company said today in a statement, which didn’t give details of the claims.

It’s no fun when someone you’ve relied on for a huge chunk of your traffic starts offering competitive services. Google’s acquisition of ITA and the expansion of Google Places on search results clearly hurt TripAdvisor. Remember the review fiasco just a few years ago? I think TripAdvisor does.

Google Restarts M&A Plan, Gets Ready To Buy

Over the last two years Google has been a ferocious, startup-munching acquisition machine. In 2010 it did 48 deals. In 2011 the company ­announced a record 79 purchases and ­investments, shelling out about $2 billion, not counting the still-pending deal to buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion.

But one-quarter of the way through 2012, and there were no deals at all. Radio silence. Zilch. Has Google’s once-hearty appetite for acquisitions been sated? In short, no.

The fact that Google is in acquisition mode is nothing new. In fact, the recent lull in acquisitions is the real head-scratcher. The public statements that Google is still in the market to acquire companies seems like a marketing communications strategy. Start-ups should continue to include Google as a potential suitor and not run to competitors ranging from Facebook to Groupon. Message received.

Manta Secures $44 Million From Norwest Venture Partners

Founded in 2005, Manta has been compared to the professional networking site Linkedin. Both sites allow users to write a recommendation for a company and let employees connect with their company. However, Manta has found a niche among SMBs that may not have a strong, online or social media presence. This funding round gives Manta more legroom to make further enhancements to its online community moving forward.

I can’t say I’ve ever thought of Manta as a LinkedIn for SMBs, but they do have a substantial position in the local space. They’ll need the extra cash as they race against some rather large competitors including Google.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

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About The Author: is Owner of Blind Five Year Old, a San Francisco Internet Marketing firm specializing in search. An experienced marketing executive with a successful track record spanning 20 years, AJ combines a deep understanding of search marketing with a passion for product strategy and iterative product development, fusing design and user experience with quantitative analysis.




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