Gates: Microsoft will go on its own way

May 9, 2008 10:51:59 AM PDT
Microsoft Corp. will focus on growing its own advertising and Internet search business after it withdrew its takeover offer for Yahoo Inc., Chairman Bill Gates said Friday. Microsoft has not presented an alternative strategy to compete with its dominant rival in the Internet business, Google Inc., since withdrawing a $47.5 billion bid for Yahoo Inc. last weekend.

Analysts have been left wondering how the world's largest software maker will increase its share of that multibillion dollar market without a major tie-up.

"We have always felt we could do very well on our own and now that's the path we are focused on," Gates said in an interview with The Associated Press in Jakarta on Friday.

"The standard strategy for us is to just hire great engineers and surprise people at how well we can compete, even with a company that's got a strong lead," he said.

Gates says Microsoft remained open to making acquisitions, but declined to comment on possible candidates, such as networking sites like Facebook in which Microsoft already holds a 1.6 percent stake.

"You never know if there's going to be a deal that makes sense," he said.

Microsoft has developed its own search-ad platform and bought aQuantive, an Internet advertising company, for $6 billion, but its U.S. online operations are loss-making.

It has captured just 10 percent of U.S. Internet searches, compared to Google's 58 percent and Yahoo's 22 percent.

"We are in software very broadly, but that advertising piece, we think, is a very exciting area," he said.

Gates also said that Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has donated $3 million for emergency relief efforts in Myanmar and will provide software to help reunite family members separated in the cyclone.

The funds were transferred to the aid agencies Mercy Corps, World Vision and Care "so they can go in there and help as quickly as possible," he said.

Gates was in Indonesia to meet with government leaders, including President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, at The Government Leaders Forum.

After heading Microsoft for more than three decades, Gates will resign his chairmanship in July and retain just a part time position there.

"I will still get to work on software, but I will be working more on the global health issues and global development issues," he said.

By spending about $3 billion every year, the Gates Foundation hopes to reduce the millions of deaths caused by malaria and HIV Aids, provide universal Internet access and encourage social corporate responsibility.