Whistle while you wor…no. We’re off to see the Wiza… closer. A Ha! If I only had a brain! That’s the one.

Ever since I’ve heard about Microsoft’s failed bid to take over Yahoo!, I can’t get it out of my head. Why you ask? Because as we hear time and time again, that public perception is key. And, right now, MS doesn’t have the best perception and they’re doing nothing to change it.

MS pushed for Y! and today we hear about Facebook talks, so there has to be a reason that the Redmond company wants to buy a larger chunk of the Internet and has been so secretive with growth strategies. The only conclusion I can come up with is because it’s feeling the crunch of the advertising bug and Web publishing failures.

Years ago, the company launched the “beloved” MSN.com, which has subsequently become the #3 player in the search market (as almost everyone has abandoned the preset IE homepage for their own favorite Web site). It has an existing social networking platform which only has minimal adoption. It also seems more advertisers aren’t using any company’s Internet properties to push their online marketing campaigns.

Now as they attempt to buy out other – more successful – sites (and face rejection), MS needs to take a new stance. Instead of being the 500 lb. gorilla that wants to bully competitors into selling, it needs to start a new chapter in external business and shareholder communications.


If only the “Scarecrow” would recognize some short-comings and announce its strategy to be more competitive in the light of product failures, it might just be more easily swallowed. I’m not the company’s counsel, nor do I wish to have such a headache, but I do think that there is an easy way for MS to do better. It should put out releases, announcements and letters that have a humble tone, acknowledging the innovations from potential acquisitions, and how it would improve MS lines of business. Something like:

“…For many years, we have attempted to become a larger player on the Internet. However, we have yet to reach our full potential online. This includes our engagements in social networking. Facebook has developed the most cutting-edge platform for social networking, advertising and engaging individuals. As we strive to enhance our existing portfolio of products, services and destinations for the public, we hope to engage the current leaders in the space.. We look forward to conversations of how we can both improve our daily interactions; not only with computers, but with each other…”

This has been something missing as of late. Heck, it’s always been missing. But if MS wants to raise its image, shouldn’t it start with the character trait that has the most resonance?

I’ve said it before, but humility goes a long way. There’s no need to be an Oz character.

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