The Impending Yahoo Swayamvar

By Subraya Mallya - October 2011 | Topics - Technology

Swayamvar, for those not familiar with Indian history,  was a practice in old days, where the father of the bride invited all the possible suitable grooms to come and demonstrate why they were the most suited for marrying his daughter. Most often it included some kind of contest like lifting a humongous bow or moving some large immovable object or something like that.

If you are one for more refined definitions here is what Wikipedia has to say (as opposed to my layman definition)

After demonstrating a perennial penchant for being in the news for the wrong reasons, most recent being the firing of a foul-mouthed CEO who was fired via a phone call, one of the most innovative companies in the valley (and web world) seems to be on the threshold of what would be a swayamvar.


  • Microsoft: Once upon a time suitor/lover – back again in the fray to give it another go.
  • Google:  Big G, not known to big fanfare marriages, trying to muster enough guts with the help of some rich relatives exploring the possibilities.
  • AOL: Fellow exec-bus-stop (Bus Stop, to those that did not get the analogy – is a place where people come, stay for a short while and go, they don’t stay for any meaningful duration) which has ventured thoughts of combining the two ailing companies into one hopefully healthy outfit. Time will tell if two bad eggs make one good one.
  • Alibaba: New Age emerging economy billionaire Jack Ma who has publicly expressed his desire, standing on top the Great Wall, to win over Yahoo.
  • Private Equity: Wild card entries a bunch PE (err salvage) companies thinking about potentially breaking up the complex joint family and helping Yahoo realize its true value

Get…Set..Go Start the Pitch

  1. Microsoft: I am rich and I own a lot of things. People world over are forced to be at my mercy whether a like it or not. Notwithstanding the public outcry around the mismatch in our culture, Yahoo and I dated a while ago and came close to becoming one, but Protective Papa Jerry would have none of it. I was ready to go make certain concessions but he was getting greedy.  Finally I walked away. Looking back it turned out to be a good thing. We need some time away from each other so we can appreciate the value of each other’s company. But that said, we decided to stay friends after Mama Bartz managed to show the value of sharing. We ended up sharing some ad revenue. Now that Yahoo is ready to make a strong commitment, given our history, I strongly urge that I be given the consideration. Granted this marriage will look like a marriage of Mike and Carol in The Brady Bunch given that we both have kids from previous marriages, we will follow all the rules that Mike and Carol set for their house.
  2. Google: Big G in the house!  Yeah! Yeah!. Wassup !!. Brady Bunch !! Thas funny!! Let me tell you. Before MS started dating Y!, I was her first lover. I provided her with a search engine to showcase all she had. People used to use me to get to her. We were happy until she realized I was skinning off the top and selling things on the side. Feeling betrayed, she decided to end it and go solo for sometime. After she gave it a go with MS and it did not work out, I am just the person she needs at this time of her struggles. We can get rid of those relatives that are not paying rent and be happy together. I will also bring in some relatives with big purple purses  to help out with all the costs of marriage. Together we can go ahead of that Zuck’s joint where people waste too much time updating what they eat for breakfast. Beware of Papa Steve, he is nice now but he is known to do strange things once you get to know him – check it out for yourself – he just loves his company
  3. AOL – I think I am the best suitor out of the lot here. Yahoo and I have the same core focus (?) we both think content is the king. People love us because of what we give them. They come to us to know a lot of things. I have a lot of experience with marriages – I had one spectacular marriage with Ted Turner’s baby Warner which ended spectacularly. So of all the people here I know what to avoid in any future marriages. I have strict policy for guests (read execs) visiting us – they cannot stay beyond the customary 6 months. So there will not be any long term meddling. Together we can make all the world come to us for help and use Big G or MS where necessary. You don’t need to marry them. With all the information we know, they will be forced to come to us on our terms.  Be wary of Jack Ma – his house has dictatorial rules – with the in-laws snooping into all the information behind the scenes. You gotta marry someone in US, you will not be happy in China – more importantly your children will not like it.
  4. Jack Ma/Alibaba – Hey AOL, don’t badmouth me. Your house is as dysfunctional as they get. We are much more disciplined when it comes to spending money. We don’t spend what we don’t have. And, you don’t need to come and live in China. We can live in Sunnyvale. Just need to make trips once in a while to see the in-laws back in China, that’s all. BTW, we are already related in someway. Your Chinese cousin is already part of our family after she married one of our cousins. I am loaded, you will never have to worry about anything after marriage. We have billions of people outside of US that we can socialize with and not have to be restricted to US. Also you don’t need have any relationship with MS or Big G. My “parents” have promised not to snoop into your affairs. So marry me – come to Baba!!.
  5. Scrap guys – I think we are different. Unlike these other guys, we are not emotional about technologies so we will make all our decisions in the best interest of the family (right !).  Let me tell you, sometimes it is better to be an atomic family rather than a joint family. A joint family brings with it too many obligations and baggage. Some sick family member can make all the rest sick. Staying atomic and having others fend for themselves or go and stay with other relatives is the best. You have been hurt too many times by these complex relationships. As you age, you should just look out for yourself and not worry about others. So come with me, we can live slim and trim and walk into the sunset to live happily.

Yahoo – Still Confused?

Okay here are some suggestions for a dear friend.

  • You are better off being by yourself. You don’t need to marry anyone. Any marriage will mean you will end up changing your culture. It is akin to changing a religion. You have way too many well wishers. So don’t be concerned. All you need at this point is someone who understands you and helps you along. Someone who knows you for who you are – an innovator and not a hoarder of things that you don’t need or someone who is just after money. Get rid of things you don’t need and go back to your true self – an innovator and soon you will see all your friends will be cheering for you. You will not be as rich as you once were but as the saying goes “Bad days come and go”. Make yourself healthy and you will be happy in days to come.
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