00:39 AM

WSJ: GooTube deal could come today

What was Chad Hurley doing over the weekend? Unlike Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, it seems that Hurley is willing to spend a beautiful couple of days talking to lawyers. The Wall Street Journal reports today that a deal to buy the company for $1.65 billion could be announced today.

The deal would allow YouTube to keep its name, office and staff - a "smart move by Google," notes Cynthia Brumfield at IP Democracy .

At Hitwise, LeeAnn Prescott takes a look at the numbers and sees just how lamely Google Video has performed, compared to YouTube: Last month YT received four times as many visits as Google Video. And until the August placement of Video on the Google homepage, Google was sending more traffic to YT than to GV.

Oddly, she concludes that Google needn't spend this money on YouTube, since their brilliant engineers could replicate any and all features that YT offers. It's not a question of engineering, though; it's question of "mindshare." YouTube has it - and it's enabling them to cut the big deals with Hollywood. If Google can't make those deals - and Schmidt has never delivered a big Hollywood deal; indeed copyright owners (in the form of publishers and European news agencies) hate Google - it will have to buy into them. (More on YT's deals shortly.)

Finally, the deal is so obsessing the Valley that strange rumors are flying about, as Michael Arrington, who broke the rumor, notes:

Whether its happening or not, this seems to be THE topic of conversation in Silicon Valley right now.

We don’t have any additional verified information, other than a bizarre story Marshall Kirkpatrick was tracking and that developed on Friday and Saturday. We got word that a lawyer representing Google may have told at least one person that the “deal has officially gone through.” The person who was supposedly told this then sent an email out to a number of people summarizing the conversation, which we got wind of. I spoke to the attorney, who denied having “any knowledge of the deal” or making that statement. I also spoke to the person who wrote the email, who backtracked and stated that he exaggerated the lawyer’s statements, and that, in short, the email he wrote wasn’t true. At that point Marshall and I decided to drop it. But I will say this - the fact that the lawyer repeately told me that he had no knowledge of a deal instead of “no comment” means he was either lying (unlikely), that a deal is happening and he doesn’t know about it (unlikely), or that there is no deal. We’ll see.