Maybe all of that criticism about how Google is winning the race and Yahoo is just sitting around with its thumb you-know-where has finally gotten to Terry Semel. Whatever it is, the middle part of the Google-Yahoo-Microsoft triumvirate seems to have awakened from its slumber and gotten out the cheque-book. Not only has it bought the online-contest site Bix, but it has also bought some Swedish mobile thingamajig, and now it has bought MyBlogLog (Update: According to TechCrunch, Yahoo and MyBlogLog have not done a deal yet, but are in discussions about an acquisition).
The MyBlogLog deal (if there is one) interests me most, if only because I have some familiarity with it. If you don’t know it, MyBlogLog is a tool that makes it easy to create communities around blogs — my community, or at least some of it, appears in the left-hand rail of my blog. That’s how I know that Zoli Erdos comes by from time to time (thanks Zoli) and that Marshall Kirkpatrick also drops by (thanks, Marshall) as does Howard Lindzon or “Bones,” (thanks, Howard) and Scott Karp of Publishing 2.0 (thanks Scott).
MyBlogLog actually started as a traffic-measurement tool, which counts clicks and then tells you when you hover over a link how many times that link has been clicked (you can choose either that or to see which is the top link, or 2nd-most clicked, etc.). Much like other traffic tools, you can see where people came to your blog from, how many visits per day and so on. The CEO of MyBlogLog is Scott Rafer, who used to work at Feedster.com.
But it was the addition of the community that really pushed MyBlogLog in a new direction — a smart move, in my view. I wasn’t sure it would work, in part because I figured that many people like to surf anonymously, but it seems to have taken off in recent months. And there’s no question that adding the community features put a different spin on MyBlogLog that set it apart from the other analytical tool companies.
The big question, of course, is what the heck Yahoo is going to do with it — or with Bix or Kenet for that matter. What has it done with del.icio.us since it acquired it? Virtually nothing except move it to new servers and give it a few nips and tucks here and there, as far as I can tell. And what about Flickr.com? Same thing. You could argue that leaving them alone makes sense, but in that case why buy them?
Presumably there should be “synergies” there somewhere, but I have yet to see Yahoo taking advantage of any. Tony Hung over at Deep Jive Interests has some thoughts about what they might have in mind — let’s hope the folks at Yahoo are as smart as Tony is. Eric Jackson has written an open letter to Jerry Yang and David Filo about what he thinks Yahoo should do. And Brian Balfour of Zoominfo makes a good point about the MyBlogLog acquisition here.