Mr. Google goes to Washington

What goes around, you know, comes around.

Schadenfreude is the most genuine kind of joy, since it contains nary a drop of envy!

In the Googleplex nowadays, nervousness reigns.


They awoke the sleeping giant, that is why!

With the aid of the Wayback Machine, let’s revisit.

Just prior to the release of Microsoft’s Windows Vista™, Google waited until the last minute to complain to the DOJ and to Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly (I just love her name; wouldn’t try to say it twice in a row, though) about the Search interface and APIs in Windows Vista™.

Coming in at the last minute, Google wanted to back Microsoft into a corner whereby they would then offer Windows Vista without a default search engine. Thankfully, Microsoft said the corporate equivalent of ‘go away’. The DOJ concurred, and I thought that was the end of it.

Schadenfreude is the sweetest kind of joy, since it comes from the heart.

However, Google wasn’t deterred in their mission to The Big Leagues, in a decision the yobs at the Googleplex must, or if not, should regret, they decided to continue this line of litigation which culminated recently with the filing of an amicus brief with Judge Kollar-Kotelly, to be a part of Microsoft’s original case.

Do you now? Really?

There is no better entertainment than schadenfreude

Now let’s go way wayback!

Prior to the spate of antitrust lawsuits against it, Microsoft had always played by business rules. Always. They followed the letter, and intent, of the law precisely. However, they were remiss in one thing: laws are not static, they are dynamic. Especially so for successful companies. Ask Bill Boeing, another Seattle-area entrepreneur. Ask John Rockefeller.

Anyways, with Microsoft stock soaring, Bill Gates’ net worth approaching the unheard-off $100 billion USD, and corporate coffers brimming with gold-pressed Latinum, Microsoft was ripe for the plucking.

At that time corporate lobbying expenses for Microsoft in Washington was traditionally in the mid-5-figures, subsequently, Microsoft ran into a buzzsaw. Even Bill Neukom, formerly of the prestigious white-shoe Seattle law firm Preston Gates Ellis, the then-current Microsoft Lead council couldn’t save Microsoft, as laws were rewritten to both punish Microsoft’s success, and to help incompetent rivals that couldn’t compete in the market, but had successful D.C. lobbying connections. It was a case where all of Microsoft’s money could not help, and actually hindered it. The case went to trial, Microsoft lost, and we are still paying the price. In the stock market, that is. I still bear the scars of the failed stock market crash.

At Igbobi College, in Lagos, there was a phrase the students at the institution used to say: Har sukuns, hay igonorumus ex clarento. Which in English means, ‘when we cry in pain, clarity occurs’. (I know, they are dolts at Igbobi; I didn’t attend that school.)

You get the picture. In all that pain, Microsoft learned a lesson: it is not how successful you are that matters; it is how you kowtow to the geniuses in Congress that is important! Sad, but true.

Back to the present.

In April of this year, Google announced plans to purchase DoubleClick.

I was upset that Microsoft lost the bidding for that and declared so publicly here.

However, it was later revealed that the private equity owners of DoubleClick absolutely didn’t want to sell to Microsoft. Thinking that the purchase was in the rocket-fueled Google stock, I did not blame the sellers initially, since it would look like their money could double in the next few months, something that the ho-hum MSFT could not beat. However, the revelation that the transaction was in cash, and that Microsoft was shut out of the bidding, I felt, as most right-thinking Americans, that something was not kosher here; why wasn't Microsoft Money as good as Google's?

The Googligans couldn’t wait to strain the chiropractic resources of Silicon Valley contorting to pat themselves on the back, and announcing to the world that they had indeed arrived.

Schadenfreude: One’s own happiness is nice, but the misfortune of others is true bliss.

Well Microsoft attacked the arrivistes on three fronts.

First, it purchased a viable, profitable, and platform-oriented company, aQuantive, and, unlike Google, sailed through the antitrust approvals processes here, and with the tossers in the EU.

Secondly, though maybe this should be the first point since it started immediately after the DoubleClick acquisition was announced, it mounted a very vocal campaign against the merger, a first for Microsoft. Everyone got into the act, from the outgoing Chairman, the CEO, and other C-level executives to virtually everyone in the company.

Lastly, it sicced a veritable army of lobbyists on derailing the acquisition on both sides of the Atlantic.

Schadenfreude is the only true joy

All of a sudden, Microsoft is accused of lobbytitis, and astroturfing! This was the same nonsense lobbed at Microsoft when it availed itself of perfectly proper antics in the ISO OOXML certification voting. Since when is taking advantage of the law, nekulturniy? In this, I disagree totally anyone who thinks it is somehow underhanded of Microsoft to take advantage of the tools available . It is NOT! Look at telcos, mega-powercos, cablecos, and bankcos. Those guys spend a lot of moolah on lobbying, and, as a benefit, get to rip us off daily! Not that Microsoft does that, as this post by Robert McLaws on shows.

Commerce, Baby! Lobbying greases the wheels of commerce.

Hey, Google! You might be the darlings of The Street, but you are still parvenu. Take note of the next phrase.

There is no greater joy than Schadenfreude!

How do you feel right now, Googligans? Better yet, what kind of feelings do you think your current obeisance to lawmakers bring to Redmondians? (Even if the acquisition is approved?)

A truly joyous schadenfreude, which probably makes them feel like being in Sto-Vo-Kor.

Moral of the story: When you shoot at the king and miss, expect an in-kind or mostly deadlier retaliation!

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