Google, GroupOn: Say No The First Time

Marissa MayerImage by jdlasica via FlickrHotmail was hot. So Bill Gates wanted to buy it. The joke in the industry for a decade and a half had been that Microsoft was always one step behind.

Sabeer Bhatia was summoned for some face time with Bill G. Bill Gates offered $200 million.

"Can I sleep on it?" Sabeer Bhatia replied. He flew back home to the Bay Area where he lived.

Word came to him that Bill Gates was now offering $400 million.

What if he had said yes to 200 million? He would still have ended up rich, but he would have lost 200 million dollars.

Was there a chance Bill Gates would have decided to pass on it? Probably not. Hotmail was too hot. Remember, Gmail did not exist back then.

Only this time the talk has been in billions. Even Yahoo made an offer. Yahoo trying to buy GroupOn is like AOL trying to buy Yahoo, almost.

Google made an offer. GroupOn said no. Google almost doubled the offer.

This is the Sabeer Bhatia act all over again.

But then this does not always work. Steve Ballmer offered to buy Yahoo for $32 billion. Yahoo said no. Ballmer never came back. Steve Ballmer is no Bill Gates.
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