Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Not So Much on a Microsoft Bid for Yahoo (They’re Crazy, But Not That Crazy)

Is this investment-banker-hype week and nobody told me?

It certainly seems so from all the almost ridonkulous rumors about everyone and their mother being “imminently poised” to make a bid for Yahoo.

In fact, the process is only beginning to chug along with the Yahoo board, aided by Allen & Company and now Goldman Sachs.

At this point, it is lots of folks rubbernecking, books being prepared and all the other stuff bankers do to look like they are busy, busy, busy.

Among the most serious players: Silver Lake and a shifting group; and a consortium that includes former News Corp. exec Peter Chernin and Providence Equity Partners.

And, just slightly, News Corp. (which owns this Web site) is considering dipping a very small toe in as part of a larger group.

That has been copiously reported here and elsewhere a badillion times already.

But — and I have been clear on this, as have others — no one is near anything of substance, which has not stopped this really lame game of Clue being pumped up by bankers who should know better.

Yesterday, it was Silver Lake, DST Global and the Alibaba Group in the billiard room with foreign money. Nope, nope, nope. Silver Lake and DST are indeed looking hard and Alibaba is a player here, but there is no grand troika going at this moment.

In fact, Alibaba’s Jack Ma — after declaring he was “very interested” in buying Yahoo — has since backed off.

And today, it’s a thinly sourced and carefully worded report of Microsoft in the basement, interested in bidding with a pile of their own dough.

How can I put this delicately? How about: No.

According to my sources, throughout this entire process Microsoft execs have taken pains to make it clear that they are not going to be among the bidders in any significant manner.

In addition, the company has also been communicating with bidders that — while Microsoft is interested in a stable Yahoo, given their search and advertising partnership — it would not throw in with anyone in the process yet.

And, finally, if a winner eventually emerges, it might — and this is only might — consider making a token investment to help get the deal completed.

Certainly, Microsoft has been and is willing to talk to anyone interested, said sources, given their Yahoo business relationship. But this does not make it a bid of any shape or size. They are not even “considering” it, unless that means watching from a distance.

I suppose in some incredible shift Microsoft could change its mind, but most credible sources I spoke to said that is not happening now.

In fact, after its bruising and failed takeover attempt of Yahoo several years ago, said multiple sources, Microsoft now has the deal it wants with Yahoo.

“Why buy the cow when you can get the search and advertising deal for free,” joked one person close to the situation.

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— David Pogue on why he’s joining Yahoo