Mark Cuban, the eccentric owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, has a post in his blog this week suggesting a way to kill Google by paying the top one thousand most popular sites $1M each to leave the Google Index. He wonders if Rupert Murdoch's plan to leave the Google Index could mark the beginning of a full-scale exodus from Google, one which could be expedited with some cash payoffs from Microsoft. Now, I'm no legal expert, but it seems to me that such a ploy would not fly with the government, but for the sake of argument, let's say it would. Why would you want to wipe out Google?
Pay Me, Pay Me, Pay Me My Money Down
I'm sure Microsoft is looking for ways to choke Google. After all, that's what competitors do, but I'm not sure it's in a top web site's best interest to abandon Google, no matter how much cash is involved. If I'm getting a fair amount of traffic from Google, and I make a lot of money, would the million dollar bribe be enough to entice me to cut off that gravy train?
I suppose it's possible. After all a million dollars is not a trivial amount of money to most of us, and if it involved other enticements like placement guarantees and ad deals, it might look good. What's interesting is that the numbers involved in a scheme like this would probably not make a company like Microsoft flinch. Remember, Microsoft was ready to pay $45 billion at one point for Yahoo!.
Play Both Ends Against the Middle
Cuban's plan gets a little more interesting when he suggests that perhaps Google wouldn't stand still while its closest competitor tried to force the market away from its search engine. Maybe Google would up the stakes. After all, they have money too. Maybe the top sites could get Google into a bidding war with Microsoft, but would this be healthy for anyone except the companies that were the recipients of this largess? It probably wouldn't be great for smaller companies who wouldn't be worth the attention in a playing field that was now defined by cash payments.
Too Many Questions
But in the end, there are way too many questions left unanswered. Would Microsoft stock holders stand for this use of Microsoft cash resources in a scheme that still might not work? Would Google up the cash stakes, or more likely tie up such an approach in court for so many years that it wouldn't matter to most of us for a long, long time? Would the government stand by and watch this game without stepping in?
I'm not sure, but for me personally, I can't see the advantage of choking Google in this fashion, or if anyone would be willing to take the risk it would involve of leaving the world's most popular search engine, cash payments not withstanding. Google simply drives too much traffic and why kill the golden goose for spite?