See no evil versus do no evil?
That's how one commenter summarizes Google's well known corporate mantra in the wake of alleged details behind the recent Google/YouTube acquisition surfacing on Mark Cuban's excellent blog maverick site:
Cuban quotes an anonymous trusted source, but is clear that none of it has been confirmed. So at this point, it's simply conjecture. Still, if the allegations are subsequently substantiated, it's going to be pretty ugly for all involved. Among the claims:
- All parties knew YouTube was an infringement nightmare (no surprise there).
- $500M of the $1.65B purchase price is earmarked for infringement settlements not Youtube shareholders (perhaps one reason the price was so inflated?).
- GOOG wasn't concerned about small copyright holders, but worried that big ones could tip the balance unfavorably (so evil is okay per se, just don't get caught by those who can make it hurt?).
- Settlements were therefore concluded with the latter, and specifically structured so those entities could avoid normal sharing %'s with the talent involved (hmmm...potential individual lawsuits and even a class-action?)
- GOOG negotiated a 6 month "look the other way" clause for themselves in order to give Youtube more time to solidify its position (again, interesting ethics for all involved, if true).
- GOOG requested that large media players pile lawsuits on other competitors to slow them down and make it more difficult/expensive for them to operate and secure VC funding (Umm, hello. DOJ?)
The anonymous source wonders how much of this will come out formally. He/she points to a concern that GOOG may be able to avoid SEC disclosure requirements by claiming that some of the transactions don't qualify as "material" financial developments given GOOG's overall size. Color me stupid, but if these claims are true, it's ALL coming out regardless of SEC rules. It's simply a matter of time - just ask the former chairwoman of HPQ.
Maybe we should be glad that GOOG outmaneuvered Ballmer et al for YouTube after all...