Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

MicroHoo: Sybil Has Nothing on Steve Ballmer

sybil

Hopefully, we will find out this morning the 411 on the Microsoft’s (MSFT) latest parry in its attempted takeover of Yahoo (YHOO).

But, before that, let me get this straight: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer now wants to go hostile on Yahoo with a proxy fight.

Because earlier this week, he sent smoke signals that he was considering raising the price of his takeover bid for Yahoo.

And just before that, Ballmer was going to walk away from the deal. Except, before that when he was ready to lower his offer.

But don’t forget the friendly path Ballmer was also promising. Even though his initial unsolicited offer started off back in February as, well, hostile.

drphil

Calling Dr. Phil!

Perhaps the wacky TV shrink can merge together Ballmer’s multiple personalities into one, much the same way he tried to mend Britney Spears.

OK, that did not go so well. But it couldn’t be worse than the confusion of intentions from Microsoft here, including the latest one reported by The Wall Street Journal’s crack team today that Ballmer had now selected hostile as his choice.

Here is Ballmer’s money quote, the likes of which a Zen master could not interpret: “With the right circumstances it’ll happen. Without the right circumstances it won’t happen.”

oprah

What? That just about covers every option possible and then some. This may even require an Oprah intervention.

Here’s BoomTown advice, which we reiterate from yesterday’s post: Offer $33 to $35 a share as a best and final, take-it-or-leave-it offer. Set a 48-hour deadline for Yahoo to enter negotiations. After that, initiate a proxy fight.

This says a lot of things. It says Microsoft is generous (and will even bid against itself). It says it has had it waiting for Yahoo to dangle Google (GOOG) or AOL (TWX) as alternatives. It says definitively that Microsoft wants Yahoo and will fight for it.

Most importantly, it says enough is enough.

And while this may seem like it says a lot of things, it doesn’t seem–as so much of what Ballmer has been saying so far says–like the rant of someone in need of help.

Because, as it stands for Ballmer, that’s what it sounds like right now.


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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