Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Yahoo Is Not a Little Black Dress

blackdress

In the late 1990s, during the height of the bubble of Web 1.0, there was a poolside charity auction at an Industry Standard conference for a variety of items donated by Web luminaries.

A tie from John Doerr, the right to push eBay CEO Meg Whitman in the pool and also the little black dress that then-CEO Katrina Garnett of CrossWorlds Software had worn and made famous in a Richard Avedon-shot ad for the company.

I am blanking on the person who bought the dress, but what was most interesting about that item was that the same person kept upping his own price, and went several rounds bidding against himself before winning the prize for a lot of money.

It was amusing at the time, a symbol of a very frothy time indeed.

Today is not that time, so I was a bit perplexed at why Microsoft (MSFT) would top its own bid and raise its $31-per-share offer for Yahoo (YHOO) to $34 a share, as suggested by Citigroup (C) analyst Mark Mahaney yesterday.

There seem to be no other rivals and not much has changed since the software giant made its unsolicited offer at the start of February, except for time passing.

Of course, the only reason to do so then is to get the deal done sooner than later and perhaps the number was a public message to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer of that fact (as I said before, I am sure there are plenty of private messages too).

moneybag

And while I am in the camp that Yahoo, well run, is probably worth a whole lot more (see this post I did at the start of this slog) than even $34–although perhaps not the $40 that Yahoo claimed last week–it’s still a matter of actually getting Microsoft to pay it by bidding against itself.

As I saw back in the roaring ’90s, it could happen. The question is: What will it take to get Microsoft to do it?

My guess if it happens: Sheer boredom and the cost of wasted time during which rival Google (GOOG) keeps chugging along and a distracted Microsoft and Yahoo do not.

Please see this disclosure related to me and Google.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik