AOL and Yahoo Are Not Talking About a Merger (Any More Than I Am a Yahoo CEO Candidate)
If drafted, I will not run; if nominated, I will not accept; if elected, I will not serve.
I think that about takes care of it on the possibility of me becoming CEO of Yahoo.
And, according to at least 223 sources of mine at Yahoo, the same goes for AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, who suddenly got mentioned in a speculative article by Bloomberg yesterday as a possible merger partner and a potential top leader of Yahoo.
Given that the affable Armstrong is in the midst of several serious crises at his own company — funny how that works.
It is actually more comical, because this story is the product of over-enthusiastic bankers essentially spinning a tale of hopes and dreams that has no basis in reality.
To add to the confusion, AOL and Yahoo now share Allen & Co. to evaluate their strategic options, adding yet another level of inbred oddness on top of the situation.
The Bloomberg story was carefully couched as Armstrong being interested in a hookup between AOL and Yahoo, but the implication was that it was a serious effort.
It certainly is true that Armstrong has talked many times about a possible link-up of AOL and Yahoo in the past, even publicly. And, well before he was CEO, the pair of companies held very serious talks about combining.
But no longer — and definitely not currently — is there anything there that approximates a serious effort.
If wishes were horses, I suppose, all stumbling Web companies would ride away together into the sunset of success.
And I love me a happy movie ending!
But the real story is a lot tougher for Armstrong, who most definitely is increasingly in need of some kind of miracle, because — despite his best efforts and some progress at turning around the perennially troubled AOL — Wall Street is growing weary of waiting for his strategies to work.
AOL stock is down 36 percent since his late 2009 debut and almost 38 percent since the beginning of 2011.
As The Wall Street Journal wrote yesterday:
“Since Tim Armstrong took over the struggling Internet company in 2009, AOL has acquired more than half a dozen companies in an effort to shake off its reputation as an Internet has-been and become an ad-supported destination for news and entertainment content on the Web. It hasn’t worked.”
In other words, it is crunch time for Armstrong.
Actually, add that onto the pile, too.
That would the controversy over how Armstrong has dealt with one of its higher profile acquisitions, the popular tech blog, TechCrunch.
The train wreck of money, journalism and ethics — as well as a fantastically dysfunctional cast of characters — is still unfolding at AOL, as the company seeks to part ways with TechCrunch’s founder and editor Michael Arrington after it revealed it was an investor in a new venture fund he would run.
After much noisy mishegas over the last week, it’s clear any outcome is still not a good one for AOL or Armstrong and that the incident has tarnished the company further.
Which brings us back to Yahoo — which is having its own “Desperate Geeks of Silicon Valley” plot line with this week’s firing of potty-mouthed CEO Carol Bartz — as a possible port in Armstrong’s storm.
It’s not, of course, because it would add a level of messy complexity and potential for more disaster that only a fee-seeking banker could love.
But — and this is the honest truth — for all the money they are being paid already, they might want to come up with some better ideas, and quickly.