At the McGraw-Hill (NYSE: MHP) conference three weeks ago, Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer said that so far he had only one brief chat over the phone with Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) CEO Carol Bartz, whose company’s search business he covets. But Ballmer added that “I’m sure when it’s appropriate, we’ll have a chance to sit down and talk.” Apparently, the time has come. AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher reports this morning that the two CEOs had a face-to-face chat last week to talk about possible commercial relationships.
Swisher cautions that the conversations between Bartz and Ballmer, as well as other executives at the two firms, are “preliminary and wide-ranging.” The fact that the two companies are talking isn’t so surprising. Ballmer said as much at the McGraw-Hill conference, when he noted, “People at our two companies talk all the time.” But the face-to-face meeting between the two CEOs seems to imply that Bartz could be giving a deal serious thought. While Ballmer has very vocally said he is interested in Yahoo’s search business, Bartz has been much less chatty on the merits of such a deal.