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Yahoo Seeks 'Open' Search Alliance

Yahoo, which never seems to budge unless it's prodded to by some sort of crisis, is scrambling to sew up a Google search partnership now that Carl Icahn has announced his proxy battle for control of the Yahoo board. Sources allege that Yahoo hopes to announce a new deal within the next week, adding that it won't be an exclusive partnership with Google.

Instead, Yahoo plans to allow the major search providers like MSN, AOL, Ask.com and anyone else to bid for the right to serve Yahoo ads tied to keyword searches. Think of it as AdWords for search providers: Yahoo outsources to the system most likely to provide the best return on investment. DidIt.com chairman Kevin Lee said the arrangement would only provide the illusion of a level playing field. "Given the way the ecosystem is put together now, Google would probably be the winner in a vast majority of cases," he said. Media Link founder Michael Kassan agreed. "They can call it anything they want, but at the end of the day, it's still rigged so that Google wins every time," he said.

Three sources allege that Google General Counsel Kent Walker is charged with structuring the deal to minimize regulatory scrutiny. No matter what the arrangement, most critics agree that a Google-Yahoo partnership will command a thorough inspection, at the very least, given Google's dominance of the search market.

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