Tellme Just a Small Yahoo?

If you want to get an idea of what Yahoo could possibly look like after a Microsoft acquisition, it may be useful to look at Tellme, a company Microsoft acquired last year. It is worth pointing out that Tellme was able to keep its corporate culture and DNA. Microsoft seemed to realize it was better to keep the company intact and while providing it with the resources it needs to grow.

I do remember my first visit to Tellme offices about seven years ago. I was surprised by the open warehouse style of the office, the desks and dogs in the office.

Today, I came across a great article comparing the Tellme acquisition with Yahoo and I thought it worth sharing.

Here is an excerpt:

Tellme’s warehouse-like office located along some railroad tracks about six miles north of Yahoo’s Sunnyvale headquarters looks pretty much like it did during a visit seven years ago. Some workers dart down the aisles on scooters and patio-style umbrellas loom over desks made out of doors bought from Home Depot.

"We were a little skeptical when Microsoft first bought us, but they really do seem to value our talent and the DNA our of our company," said Sarah Caplener, a Tellme employee since she got out of college seven years ago.

Caplener and other employees aren’t thrilled with the added layers of bureaucracy that the Microsoft ownership has wrought. There are also regular trips to Redmond, Wash., a journey some would rather not have to make.

But Microsoft’s executives sometimes make it easier by coming to Tellme. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates even paid a visit last August and spent several hours swapping ideas with the Tellme engineers responsible for programming a system that provided voice-automated responses to about 2 billion phone calls last year.

The Gates session is just one example why Tellme employees believe they are helping Microsoft develop technology that’s more elegantly designed and easier for customers to use, said Peter Monaco, Tellme’s director of application engineering. "We feel like we are having as much of an influence on Microsoft as they are having on us."

McCue’s background made it seem unlikely that Tellme would ever end up being sold to Microsoft.

Before starting the company in 1999, McCue struck it rich as a vice president of technology for Netscape Communications, the Web browser pioneer that helped open up the Internet to the masses.

Netscape fell on hard times, though, after Microsoft began bundling its Web browser into its ubiquitous Windows operating system, relying on tactics that a federal judge later determined were illegal.

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