The third week in July 1997, while I was enjoying the sands of Maui,
Microsoft made an equity investment in Progressive Networks, the
developers of the RealAudio player. Microsoft's intent seems pretty
clear: rather than build its own audio streaming component, it simply
mines Progressive Networks for multimedia streaming components for its
Site Server suite.
Microsoft's investment is very real -- they announced plans to
acquire 10% of the company, for upwards of $50 million. The tactics
are to distribute EasyStart RealAudio and RealVideo Server with
Microsoft NetShow 2.0 until Microsoft incorporates the technology
into a future version of NetShow.
Now, the purpose of this personal rant is not to cry foul. We see that
far too much on fork anyway, and to tell you the truth, I'm sick of the
whining. Instead, I'm trying to ascertain approximately the NUMBER of
Internet pots in which Microsoft has its hands. A little research
reveals a "shopping spree" [Web Week, 7/28/97, page 3] --- some
noteworthy recent acquisitions and investments include:
Cooper and Peters, June 1997, object-oriented user-interface technology
ComCast, June 1997, cable television networks
Linkage Inc, June 1997, organizational consulting services
Dimension X, May 1997, multimedia Java technology
WebTV, April 1997, Internet access set-top boxes
aha! Software, April 1997, note-taking and editing software
Interse, March 1997, web site analysis software
NetCarta, Dec 1996, web site mapping software
eShop, June 1996, electronic commerce servers
Vermeer Technologies, Jan 1996, site authoring tool
Now remember, when Microsoft buys a company, they not only get that
company's products; they get the company's PROGRAMMERS and RESOURCES,
too. In this way, Microsoft continues to assimilate the best and the
brightest into their fold. And with more than $8 billion in cash, this
pattern is unlikely to slow down any time soon.
Not so much overwhelmming an observation as it is underwhelmming: for me
to start a company that could possibly begin to compete with Microsoft,
I would need tantamount resources (and then some). Not gonna happen,
not in my lifetime. Billg, you win. I can't win. In fact, at this
point, I can't break even. Sad part is, I can't even quit the game...
Hello, it's me, I'm not at home, if you'd like to reach me,
leave me alone. A change would do you good.
-- Sheryl Crow