Just when you’d think Google’s financial discombobulation would give Yahoo some rest comes this heartfelt bullet from Microsoft. On the PR newswire this morning runs this incredibly respectful yet dispiritingly asexual love letter from Steve Ballmer to Jerry Yang. And, oh how Mr. Ballmer loves to dish, to wit:
In February 2007, I received a letter from your Chairman indicating the view of the Yahoo! Board that ‘now is not the right time from the perspective of our shareholders to enter into discussions regarding an acquisition transaction.’ According to that letter, the principal reason for this view was the Yahoo! Board’s confidence in the ‘potential upside’ if management successfully executed on a reformulated strategy based on certain operational initiatives, such as Project Panama, and a significant organizational realignment. A year has gone by, and the competitive situation has not improved.
Man, you have to hand it to sweaty old “Give It Up to Me!!!” Ballmer.
He corralled Yahoo’s proscribed empire into his greasy fist while preserving that silly artifice of the exclamation point in Yahoo!’s name. Nicely done, Steve. More than that, he finally called Yahoo on the Oz-like illusion it’s been fostering for a couple of years: “You had a year. You lost. All your base belong to us.”
I can’t shake this feeling Ray Ozzie has a hand in all this, but oh well. Yahoo shares finished Thursday at $19.18, but Ballmer & Co.’s bid of $31 a share for the web portal turned…umm, Microsoft property has driven the stock up 50 percent to $28.68 Friday morning.
Microsoft, which has $37.8 billion in cash and short-term investments, was to put out $44.6 billion in cash and stock to buy an Internet pioneer that until a year or so ago was so revered by investors and affiliates that everyone would have laughed aloud at the idea of the ticker MSFT swallowing YHOO.
Having spent my share of last-calls at bars, I can only applaud Microsoft’s ambition in its 3 a.m. bid at corporate copulation — while snickering privately at the 62 percent premium over what everyone else thought Yahoo was worth until this deal was proffered.
Let’s sit down a minute and think about what a Microsoft-owned Yahoo will mean.
Yahoo has been admirably laissez-faire with Flickr and del.icio.us. Will they be preserved or folded into to services we’ve all eschewed? How will Yahoo mail accounts be reconciled with Hotmail accounts? Will those of us who use Yahoo Finance and all its features adapt to MSN Finance? What is MSN Finance?
A 62 percent premium, hmmm –- we Yahoo users have a new choice: Learn to love life under Ballmer, or migrate to Google.