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May 16, 2008

Icahn vs. Yahoo, Facebook vs. Google

Carl Icahn, an erstwhile Yahoo shareholder wants to fire the entire Yahoo Board. In his letter to Yahoo, he claims buying $2.5 billion worth of Yahoo stocks to push his agenda. On the other hand, Facebook is accusing Google for invading user privacy with its Friend Connect.

In his May 15 letter, Carl Icahn basically tells the entire board that he’s firing them and names his own replacement which includes Dallas Mavericks owner and popular blogger Mark Cuban. He also threatened them of law suits if ever Yahoo makes any more deals with Google or AOL that might disparage further Microsoft negotiations.

He claims that Yahoo did not took the shareholder’s interest when it ignored the $33 final offer by Microsoft. At that time, the offer was a 71% premium to the market value of Yahoo the day before the first offer was made public.

Yahoo responds to Icahn and says a proxy fight for the board seat is not necessary as the current slate of independent members are still open to negotiations with Microsoft. Yahoo will hold its annual shareholder meeting this July (with a possible election of new board members) and that’s the time we’ll find out if the proxy fight goes thru. Boom Town has a funny translation of Icahn letter.

Meanwhile, the brewing battle between Facebook and Google is still up over the openness of social profiles. Google announced Friend Connect last May 12, a service that helps website owners grow traffic by enabling any site on the web to easily provide social features for its visitors.

However, Facebook later blocked Google Friend Connect from accessing its Open API:

Now that Google has launched Friend Connect, we’ve had a chance to evaluate the technology. We’ve found that it redistributes user information from Facebook to other developers without users’ knowledge, which doesn’t respect the privacy standards our users have come to expect and is a violation of our Terms of Service. Just as we’ve been forced to do for other applications that redistribute data in a way users might not expect or understand, we’ve had to suspend Friend Connect’s access to Facebook user information until it comes into compliance. We’ve reached out to Google several times about this issue, and hope to work with them to enable users to share their data exactly when and where they choose.

Open is not actually open after all at Facebook. Furrier thinks Facebook has just pulled a Netscape. Robert Scoble disagrees.

It’s a lesson we need to learn — an open door policy can be good for your strategy but it can also make other enterprising entities benefit from your hard work. That’s might not be good, especially if the one benefiting is a potential competitor.

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