Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

It's Complicated, but MicroHoo Hasn't Fallen and Will Get Up (Now, Lay Off Jerry Yang)


In what should come as a shock to almost no one, the detailed negotiations to complete the Microsoft and Yahoo search and online advertising final agreement are more complicated than its authors anticipated and are taking longer than expected to complete.

Relax, folks–they’ll get done.

But here’s a more important thing that should wrap up sooner than later: Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz’s seemingly never-ending gibes about former CEO and co-founder Jerry Yang’s tenure.

First, let’s deal with the issues around the agreement, which is a monster document.

That’s why MicroHoo missed the deadline yesterday to execute its definitive agreement on the transaction struck in July.

In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Yahoo (YHOO) said:

“The Letter Agreement specified that the parties would execute definitive agreements by October 27, 2009, but given the complex nature of the transaction, there remain some details to be finalized.”

Added Microsoft (MSFT) in a long statement:

“Microsoft and Yahoo! are committed to this agreement and believe this is a highly competitive deal that is good for consumers, advertisers and publishers. We have made good progress in finalizing the definitive agreements. Given the complex nature of this transaction there remain some issues that need some additional clarity and definitive details. So, the teams at Yahoo! and Microsoft are continuing to work on the remaining details, and we have mutually agreed to extend the period to negotiate and execute the agreement. We plan to do this as expeditiously as possible. Both companies are optimistic that we will be able to close this deal by early 2010.”

Thus, the deadline has been pushed back indefinitely, which is very common in such larger and complicated deals.


Yahoo and Microsoft had already done a pretty hefty binding letter agreement (here is a picture of Yahoo’s Bartz and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer holding it, in fact).

Getting approval from regulators is also part of the deal, and it is likely to happen in the U.S. just after the new year.

International regulatory approval is another story, especially in Europe, which could further delay the implementation of the partnership, since it is unlikely the pair would move forward without clearance globally.

But perhaps most of all, what seems more likely to never end and probably should is the proclivity of Yahoo’s Bartz to use sharp-tongued analogies to talk about just how bad Yahoo had been doing and how it is now poised to make a comeback.

In her very first press conference when she got the job, in fact, she noted that Yahoo, “frankly, could use a little management.”

Bartz was right then and even more correct to say it out loud, but she has not stopped the criticism.

And, like clockwork, at an analyst day at Yahoo HQ in Sunnyvale, Calif., today, Bartz trotted out a yet another in a long series of backhanded insults to former CEO Jerry Yang and his crew.

Said Bartz at the event about the Silicon Valley icon:

“We have fallen and we really want to get back up. If you haven’t had good times and bad times, you don’t know what you’re doing. We prefer the good times. We have passion to get back there. Today is the start of that.”

Today is the start? Didn’t Yahoo declare a version of the same theme when the MicroHoo deal was announced in July? And at the the launch of the new homepage in September? And the more recent rollout of its massive marketing campaign?

It seems to me that since she has been there almost a year, much like the Obama administration, Bartz should not be looking backward anymore and keep announcing that it is time to get back on track.

Because she is most definitely in charge now at Yahoo and should be the one to get all praise and all blame from here on out.

So, as someone who has definitely been very tough on Yang while CEO, it’s time to stop knocking him over now, because it is starting to feel like a very cheap shot.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work