MediaFile

from The Great Debate:

Sun software is the tail wagging the dog

Eric Auchard-- Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

When Oracle agreed to buy Sun Microsystems for $7.4 billion in April, the headlines made much of the software maker's decision to enter the computer business 30 years late. At less than 10 per cent of sales, Sun's software business seemed an afterthought.

But Sun's software is now center stage after European competition regulators said on Thursday that they would withhold approval for the deal until they finish probing the impact of the Oracle-Sun merger on the database software market. The decision means the transaction faces at least a four-month delay, pushing it into early next year.

Any delay is costly for Oracle. Sun's sales have plunged as key financial, government and communications customers have held back purchases of computers and storage until Oracle is able to clarify its long-run commitment to Sun hardware and software products.

The commission is debating whether, or under what conditions, to allow Oracle to acquire Sun's MySQL database software. Given that the business brings in only $100 million in quarterly revenue, less than 1/25th of Sun sales, the easy way out would be for Oracle to jettison MySQL. However, that would be a mistake.

MySQL is a free, or low-cost, database that powers the vast majority of the world's hottest Web sites, blogs and open-source businesses, including Facebook, Google, YouTube and Wikipedia. At issue is the fact that Oracle is already the world's biggest supplier of database software, the underpinning for many of the world's biggest information storehouses.

from The Great Debate:

Can sleeping giant Skype reinvent itself?

eric_auchard_thumbnail2.jpg -- Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

Do once-hot Internet start-ups who miss a date with destiny ever truly get a second chance? History says no, even for once-great names like Netscape, AOL and MySpace.

Skype hopes to be the exception. On Tuesday, a group led by top Internet financiers in Silicon Valley and Europe agreed to pay eBay $1.9 billion in cash for a 65 percent stake in the one-time web calling sensation.

The deal values Skype at a face-saving $2.75 billion, well above the $1.7 billion at which it has been valued on the ecommerce giant's books. Ebay also stands to keep a 35 per cent stake in the company.

from The Great Debate:

Forget Microsoft, Yahoo’s value is overseas

-- Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

eric_auchard_columnist_shot_2009_june_300_px2The fate of Yahoo Inc has become intertwined in the public's imagination with the success or failure of its dealings with Microsoft Corp in recent years.

That's despite the fact that as much as 70 percent of the value investors put on Yahoo's depressed shares are tied up in its international assets or cash holdings -- factors that have nothing to do with Microsoft.

Yahoo's operations trade for just $5 to $6 per share out of its current $15 share price, once you exclude its Asian investments and the value of its cash. Its hidden assets in Japan and Chinese affiliates -- Yahoo Japan Corp and China's Alibaba Group -- alone are worth around $6 to $7 per share.