…Steve Ballmer? WTF?
Here’s what he said in a BusinessWeek interview (italics are my own):
What do you make of the deal between Google and YouTube?
[You’ve got to ask] could Google do whatever it is they’re hoping to buy without paying $1.6 billion? Is YouTube really some permanent, long-term thing, or is it a fashion? I’m not saying it is a fashion. But every time we do valuations, I wonder if we can afford to keep this hot for 10 years. I’m sure somebody at Google has got to do the same analysis, because even $1.6 billion is more than 1% of their market cap.
Is there a business model? Right now, there’s no business model for YouTube that would justify $1.6 billion. And what about the rights holders? At the end of the day, a lot of the content that’s up there is owned by somebody else.
The truth is what Google is doing now is transferring the wealth out of the hands of rights holders into Google. So media companies around the world are all threatened by Google. Why? Because basically Google is telling you how much of your ad revenue you get to keep.They better get some competition. Us. Yahoo! (YHOO). Somebody better break through or you can short all media stocks right now. As long as there are two, you can hold onto media stocks. Google understands that. And that’s one reason why they’re willing to lose money up front. Just look at some of these deals. That MySpace deal (where Google provides the ad engine for MySpace). We bid a lot of money on that MySpace deal. And we got outbid. We wanted to win that MySpace (NWS) deal. At some point, we said we can’t do this. Now Google can afford to spend more than us and Yahoo because they have more people in their ad system, so they’re getting better yield, effectively.
Getting back to the core question, it all depends on how that plays out. I am surprised that Google would pay $1.6 billion for it.
Something’s gone wacky when I find myself nodding my head through an interview of his.