Why Yahoo will acquire Techmeme

Techmeme Techmeme (formerly – Memeorandum) tracks and ranks conversations, or – memes, as they emerge in the blogosphere.

Techmeme is for blog post discovery, what PageRank is for regular web search. While PageRank focuses primarily on link analysis, Techmeme considers the other parameters that are unique to blogs – comments, trackbacks, etc.

Techmeme does an excellent job of surfacing the important current discussions and the most important sources to the top of the page. In the blog discovery space, those are the things that matter. Text analysis and link analysis (both areas traditional search engines are strong at) are far less important. Try Google’s Blog search to see how bad blog discovery can be when traditional ranking algorithms are applied to the blogosphere.

And therefore I think it’s absolutely inevitable that one the big three – Google, Yahoo or Microsoft will acquire Techmeme, and I’d be surprised if that doesn’t happen in the next couple of months.

So who will it be?

Microsoft probably needs this most for their search war chest, but I’d be very surprised if they end up picking this up. They seem too busy in the Google dog chase to make moves that are ahead of the curve. I’ll give them a 10% chance at most.

Google is tough to predict… On the one hand, they are busy buying any small company with cool software that they like. I hear Techmeme is a one-man show (or close to that), so there’s definitely a match there. But most Googlers also suffers from the NIH syndrom, and acquiring a company like Techmeme will be like admitting that someone outside the Googleplex can think of an algorithm better than theirs. That’s pain that Googlers don’t like taking, and therefore I’ll rank Google with a 20% chance.

Yahoo Which leaves us with Yahoo. The only company that seems to combine true vision, with the humbleness needed to admit that good ideas may in fact emerge from outside the company is Yahoo. It is also the company that seems most interested in user-generated-content and therefore having the best blog discovery algorithms is a good match. These facts helped Yahoo bag Del.icio.us, Flickr, Upcoming, etc. And that’s why I’ll give them a 70% chance of being the ones to acquire Techmeme.

Predictions are for fools, but this one (barring the naming of Yahoo as the acquirer… I may have to eat my hat on that one…) just makes too much sense.

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