Memo to Yahoo: Incoming–Duck and Cover!
And, as BoomTown wrote yesterday, so the war of attrition for Yahoo begins.
Not with a bang, but a whimper. And so much whine, I am considering serving up a nice plate of cheese to all players.
But while the first moves by Microsoft (MSFT), which is seeking to take over Yahoo (YHOO), seem a bit weak, it is likely the more significant bombs will start flying next week.
But not quite yet.
First, came a not-so-subtle insinuation from Microsoft Steve Ballmer that he could take his marbles and go home any time.
He noted yesterday in a speech in Milan (Milan? OK, we’ll go with it) that the software giant is “prepared to move forward alone without Yahoo.”
A show of hands of who actually believes this claim, please, a classic go-fish negotiating ploy? No one? We thought so.
Then, comes the artfully worded Wall Street Journal story today, in which it is revealed that some at Microsoft are skeptical of the deal.
Apparently, Microsofties are worried that the job of merging Yahoo into Microsoft will take precious attention away from, well, them!
Well, that’s been the biggest open secret at Microsoft. Almost anyone you talk to notes that the Yahoo deal is risky, but it would be done no matter what due to Ballmer’s determination to use Yahoo to better hammer at rival Google (GOOG).
“This is Ballmer’s war,” said one Microsoft employee to me recently, who also noted that it is still a good move for Microsoft, despite the slowness of the attack. “I doubt he will surrender.”
Well, BoomTown suggested Microsoft do so back in mid-February in a post, noting that Ballmer might do better to use the $41 billion to buy up every hot start-up in Silicon Valley–Digg, Meebo, Slide and even the hopelessly high-valued Facebook–and still have money left over to buy everyone a tank of gas.
The Journal story also listed previously reported names of possible directors for a proxy slate Microsoft must nominate to replace Yahoo’s current board.
They include, noted the story, “former Nextel Partners Inc. CEO John Chapple, former Grey Global Group Inc. CEO Edward Meyer, Jaynie Studenmund, the former chief operating officer of Overture Services Inc., which was later acquired by Yahoo, and former Adelphia Communications Corp. Chief Financial Officer Vanessa Wittman, according to people familiar with the matter.”
Not to be whiny about it or anything, but with no truly prominent Internet executive or figure among these director possibilities so far, BoomTown would have to say we are profoundly underwhelmed by the list.
Thus, we await more powerful forces.
And that might be sooner than later. Microsoft will announce its earnings this afternoon, which–if they are strong and lift the price of Microsoft stock and, therefore, the Yahoo offer–could be the first big gun to fire in the proxy fight.