Steve Ballmer, change agent

Jeez. I take a day off to do some meditating at Green Gulch Farm and come back to find Monkey Boy’s mug glaring out from page one of the Journal and a story that says the Microhoo deal is turning into a full-blown clusterfuck. For a teaser of their story go here. Short version: Yahoo is trying to drag AOL and Google into the mess. Google figures it can skirt antitrust regulators by brokering an ad deal instead of doing an outright merger with Yahoo, which is too bad because wouldn’t it be a great world if the biggest Internet company had a name like GooHoo? Meanwhile Time-Warner just wants someone, anyone, to take AOL off its hands. AOL should have been taken out back and euthanized years ago. It’s a friggin zombie, still roaming the earth and stinking up the joint. Begone, foul site! Meanwhile the Borg wants its analog from the media world — Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. — to join Team Evil, and Rupe sees a chance to unload MySpace before it gets destroyed by Facebook. That anyway seems to be what’s going on though who knows? I keep getting this mental image of all these bozos rushing around the top floor of a hotel, zipping in one door and out the other, like a skit from the Three Stooges. Or was it the Marx Brothers?

So I called Monkey Boy to find out what he’s doing. It was early but I knew it was okay because he’s totally one of these dudes who wakes up before dawn so he can get a jump on the day and start plotting more ways to cheapen and uglify the world for the rest of us. Sure enough he was on his treadmill in his workout room slopping down a bowl of corned beef hash with fried eggs while watching three television sets and two computer screens and memorizing everything. He’s like, “You want to know the truth? Okay. Here’s the thing. Somebody needed to come into this space and smash some shit together. Understand? I mean there’s too many of these companies all doing the same thing, or variations on the same thing, and there’s way too much overhang, and AOL shouldn’t even fucking exist anymore and MySpace is ridiculous and we’re all fighting for the same dollars and this shit has just got to stop and someone needed to toss a grenade into the pit and guess what, I’d rather be the one tossing the grenade than be the one trying to catch it and toss it to someone else before it explodes.”

So I asked him how he figures the whole thing will play out and he’s like, “Who knows, and who cares? But this shit needs to get shaken up. It’s turning into a cesspool. The way we figure it if we stir up the pot at the very least we’ll force some of these idiots into forming really stupid alliances or even better maybe they’ll actually merge and mess each other up completely. If possible we’d love to push AOL deeper into Google. I’d glue AOL to Eric Schmidt’s head if I could. But whatever happens, if we get stumped on Yahoo we’ll get portrayed as the poor loser, shunned again, thwarted by some big alliance when really what we’ve done is forced our competitors to tie themselves into a big huge fucking knot. See the one thing we still have going for us here at Microsoft is that even though people make fun of us and deride us and call us clods, deep down they also still fear us. I mean they really, really fear us. And that fear is something we can use. I don’t mean that we’re bluffing, because we’re not. We’ll buy Yahoo, and we’ll make the deal work. But if we don’t get Yahoo that’s okay too because the only way they can escape us is to make a deal that not only fucks them up but also fucks up one or more other players in the space. Geddit?”

So then I asked him why Vista sucks so bad and he says, “Who cares? We’ll do another one but the desktop is dead. Office apps are dead. We’ll milk them for another five years and we’ll use Yahoo to generate ad revenue to get us through the next five or ten years but the real game is a decade out when we’ll be running clouds and the Internet will go beyond the browser and beyond the PC and will be embedded into everything. Ambient, persistent connections, with billions of endpoints hooked to the network. You’ll be there. But so will we. Wait and see.”