Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Yahoo's Slow-Burning Ring of Fire


Yesterday, a source close to Microsoft (MSFT) called me and expressed increasing exasperation after Yahoo (YHOO) used a clever corporate tactic to delay a fast-approaching deadline for nominating new board members, extending it to an unspecified date in the future.

Most observers considered the move just a way of staving off the inevitable–that being a Microsoft takeover of Yahoo–since it will be hard for Yahoo to come up with an alternative plan that will equal Microsoft’s $31-a-share offer.

Given Microsoft has indicated that it will not raise its price (though it surely will if need be) and seems determined to remain patiently waiting until Yahoo invites the software giant in for talks (which seems inevitable), the source said in frustration: “It feels like fighting with molasses.”

Well, slowness is a tactic, of course, to perhaps hold out for a higher price or hope that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer changes his mind or actually finds another deal.

But, for anyone who has watched Yahoo’s lugubrious manner over the last year, moving at snail speed and doing as little as possible to make changes as crises mounted, it’s now clear its agonizingly deliberate manner might be a plus in its effort to stop Microsoft from taking it over.

In fact, it is positively Zen how Yahoo has removed Microsoft’s incentive to go hostile with a proxy fight, by dangling the possibility of talks, gently floating news of other suitors and even possibly keeping this circus going until July.

July!?! What we are witnessing, folks, is nothing less than Olympic foot-dragging! Gold medal awarded to Yahoo!

In a new memo to Yahoo employees yesterday, wherein lowercase letters remained in full cutesy force, Yahoo CEO and Co-Founder Jerry Yang noted that: “in light of the current circumstances, this change removes an imminent deadline. microsoft, of course, could still choose to name directors, but our objective here is to enable our board to continue to explore all of its strategic alternatives for maximizing value for stockholders without the distraction of a proxy contest.”

In other words: Denial is not just a river in Egypt.

But it seems to be working!

To bide the time, here is a video of the very talented 15-year-old Vince Mira, who lives in Washington state and who expertly channels Johnny Cash. In fact, he appeared at Microsoft’s Mix conference yesterday, where the software giant unveiled the beta of its Internet Explorer 8.

No need to point out the irony of his song for Microsoft.

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— Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, in their farewell D post