MicroHoo? YaBay? No Deal!
Look, I love a good takeover rumor as much as the next gossipy reporter.
But all the incessant rumblings of Microsoft sniffing around to buy Yahoo or Yahoo merging with eBay are getting a tad ridiculous.
So, Deal or No Deal? Um, no deal, Howie! Really, no deal at all.
What it feels like to me is a bunch of bored and jobless investment bankers getting together for lunch at the Grill Room at the Four Seasons in Manhattan, cooking up the idea of such mergers and acquisitions and then speed-dialing gullible reporters.
While Yahoo stock was up yesterday on talk of Microsoft’s interest in it via a story in the New York Post–interest that has been written about at least 43 times over the past year–I am here to say that there is nothing new here.
Here’s what is going on and has long been going on: Microsoft continues to cast about for a viable Internet strategy, as it always does, and Yahoo is probably the numero-uno solution on its business development fix-it list.
Why? Well, the software behemoth just can’t catch Google in the lucrative search-ad market no matter how hard it tries and how much money it spends.
If it presumably put together it and No. 2 Yahoo, then presto chango, a real horse race.
But that’s kind of like stitching together Bill Richardson and Dennis Kucinich and getting a potential front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.
And, in fact, such a union has been raised in the past, by former Yahoo CEO Terry Semel in a trip he made to see Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer several years ago.
It never happened then and will not now.
While Microsoft might indeed have renewed interest in such a pairing, I am here to tell you Yahoo execs do not seem to share that enthusiasm, except perhaps as a last resort or if the company’s stock price dips precipitously low.
But anyone who attended Jerry Yang’s speech at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas could see that the Yahoo co-founder and CEO has no intention of throwing in the towel quite yet.
While he might be thinking of outsourcing its search-ad business–and he should–or focusing more heavily on opening up Yahoo’s platform, a sale is like the red button of bye-bye to him.
Plus, if Yahoo were in play, there would be a feeding frenzy for the still-strong Web property–including obvious interest from Comcast, AT&T and even Google (which would never ever happen because of antitrust issues).
More intriguing is the idea of Yahoo and eBay linking up, which makes a lot more sense, but it also is not in the works.
Interestingly, Yahoo and the dominant auction site almost did merge back in the first dot-com bubble, a deal that was scuttled at the last minute over whether eBay CEO Meg Whitman would be in charge or not.
Now, such a deal seems more of a desperation play rather than a smart move–although the pair together would be serving an awful lot of customers worldwide and have some of the strongest Web brands around.
More likely is even closer ties between Yahoo and eBay, which is–sources told me–in the midst of a top-executive reorganization right now, as it looks toward the day Whitman is not in charge.
So, sorry to burst a bubble–actually, I am not sorry at all–but it is more no deal than deal here.
In fact, here is a piece I did back in late November, when Silicon Alley Insider’s Henry Blodget raised the same Yahoo-Microsoft rumors.
Please see this disclosure related to me and Google.