As the Bing-Yahoo! Search Alliance deal closes in on the halfway point, Marissa Mayer looks for changes

Kip Kniskern

As the Bing-Yahoo! Search Alliance deal closes in on the halfway point, Marissa Mayer looks for changes

This is second quarter earnings week for a number of technology companies.  We told you earlier about Monday’s Microsoft earnings, but there’s been some Microsoft related news from other quarters, as well.  It’s well known that Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer isn’t thrilled with the search alliance deal pulled off by her predecessor Carol Bartz and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, tying Yahoo! into a 10 year arrangement that effectively killed Yahoo!’s internal search engine efforts and replaced it with results coming from Bing.

Marissa Mayer

In yesterday’s Yahoo! earnings report call, Mayer touted the company’s progress in search distribution, headlined by the recent Yahoo! deal with Mozilla to put Yahoo! search as the default provider in Firefox. She was asked about the Bing partnership, and noted that the company is exploring changes to the arrangement:

I will go ahead and start off on the Microsoft part of the question. The search alliance reaches its halfway point later in Q1 and there are provisions in the agreement that allow us to consider how we might adjust our relationships. At this point we are actively exploring with Microsoft how we might forward as well as exploring different models for different platforms.

Mayer went on to talk about pursuing a deal, similar to the one they just made with Mozilla, for Apple’s Safari search business, saying that Yahoo! is in the “search distribution business”, and then went on to talk a bit more about the relationship with Microsoft:

As I said earlier we are in active discussion with Microsoft and we are really exploring a number of different avenues and so I think it would be pretty immature today to discuss anything like margins and totally really understand what changes we may see and what this period of consideration and contemplation of the contract ultimately will yield.

Microsoft, for its part, has been shifting focus with Bing from being a strict Google competitor to providing new and different search capabilities within Microsoft products, being baked in to Windows 10, and showing up everywhere from Cortana to OneDrive to Office 365.  Still, Microsoft has enhanced the Bing business with other search partnerships of its own, including powering Apple’s Siri personal assistant.

As it reaches the halfway point, one thing is clear, that the Yahoo!-Bing Search Alliance is in for some changes.  What those changes are, and where it leaves both Bing and Yahoo!, are yet to be determined.