Yahoo adds an 8 billion dollar insult to the Microsoft Merger Madness


Yahoo’s not just turning down an internet king’s ransom for a Microsoft merger, but they even rejected a partial buyout from Microsoft that would have given them 35 per share for several of MY SHARES and also woud have added a cool billion or so to the bottom line in an MS advertising deal.

Kara Swisher has more details, and is looking great with a hip new hairdoo!

My guess is that rejecting this modifed Microsoft Merger offer will put a nail in the Yahoo board’s coffin. They had a case – albeit a weak one – that Yahoo unfettered with MS could have dug themselves out of a hole, but this makes it even more crystal clear that they weren’t even willing to do *anything* with Microsoft. I think that would suggest a level of corporate indifference to shareholders that is going to leave a lot of folks….well…..ticked.

Disclosure: long on YHOO

Yahoo Google Agree to Thwart Microsoft and Icahn


The Yahoo Microsoft Merger saga continues as Yahoo and Google have signed an advertising pact in the face of mounting new pressure on Yahoo to sell to Microsoft.     Carl Icahn, corporate mega-investor, has purchased a large stake in Yahoo and was preparing to force changes on the Yahoo board that have led to a Microsoft takeover.   Today’s announcement appears to leave the Microsoft deal in the lurch, though I’m not clear yet why Icahn can’t fight a proxy battle to get control of the company and then back out of the agreement.    Based on today’s news that is not part of his plan, though anything is possible in the rapid fire take no Microsoft prisoners battle where the Yahoo board appears more interested in thwarting Microsoft than doing good for Yahoo’s shareholders who today saw a drop of 10% in shares as another potential Microsoft deal crumbled.    Last year Yahoo rejected $40 per share, and a few months back they rejected $34.   One does not have to have much imagination to wonder how long it’ll be before they are rejecting $25.

An interesting investment question right now is whether Yahoo is priced low or high given all the new information.  If, for example, a new board will come in within a year or so it’s very possible that MS will make another aquistion offer well above current prices.  A new board would probably view this favorably.   If true Yahoo’s a good buy now.   However if the stubborness will continue for years it’s not at all clear that Yahoo can dig itself out of the profit and morale busting hole it’s been digging for several years while Google was eating Yahoo’s lunch and serving it back – free – to Google investors and employees. 

Disclosure:  I have Yahoo.   Which means I have 90% of the value I had this morning.

MicroHooBook rumors are very probably false. A test of the non-Emergency Blogcasting System?


I thought I’d coined “MicroHooBook” but Matt   had done that  a full hour before.

Just a moment, just a moment…. looks like The 463 had it before Matt.   Originality sure isn’t what it used to be…

Microsoft is certainly working with Yahoo now to try to buy a piece of the company rather than the whole – Microsoft announced that over the weekend.     Most think they want to buy the search component of Yahoo and that Yahoo may sell because if they don’t Carl Icahn will be forcing a proxy fight that he will probably win, having already bought or lined up about 30% of the votes/shares in his favor.     

But John Furrier “broke” the rumor that as soon as they had Yahoo search MS would snap up Facebook for 15-20 billion.    I think this rumor is speculation and nothing more and I’m even thinking this was something of a test of the non-emergency blogcasting system, which generally delivers misleading information even faster than the truth. 

John Furrier and Robert Scoble are both clever guys, which is why I’m a bit suspicious they have cooked up the MicroHooBook rumor to test TechMeme and how the blogosphere reacts to unfounded rumors.

As usual, the blogOsphere loves unfounded and unverified rumors and this is the key tech blog story for Monday May 19. 

I think Sarah Lacy has this right, and she’s got more of an inside track to Facebook than most reporters.

Yahoo Microsoft – the Sequel?


TechCrunch is reporting that Microsoft has “excused” the proposed slate of new Yahoo board members telling them that they won’t be needed anymore.    I don’t think this tells us much if anything about the status of a new deal which rumors suggest may come from the Yahoo board’s concern over losing…billions of dollars.

I think MS is just playing this very smart.  These little measures are designed to get the current Yahoo board to rethink their folly.   I think only Jerry was dead set against the merger and the rest of the board would have settled for 35 or even 34 per share.   Why wouldn’t they?   Yahoo has been languishing for years, and the chance of getting back to 34 *without Microsoft* is fairly slim in the coming lean advertising years, not to mention the fact that low morale, challenges at the company, and the declining prospects with Microsoft may take the stock even lower.

Yahoo should have sold at 33 and I think they will almost certainly sell at 35 due to pressure from Shareholders and (more importantly) heavily vested board members who are “losing”, collectively, several billion dollars by sticking to their guns in this.

Ballmer has left the Building


Talks between Microsoft and Yahoo have stalled and may be over.   33 vs 37 per share.    I still think Microsoft is just calling what better be a bluff by Yahoo, because if they don’t take this MS offer the stock is going back to the sub 20’s and Yahoo is looking at a huge number of shareholder lawsuits asking why they sabotaged the offer of $33 when they are only worth $19 without Microsoft.

Here is my view at Webguild with the letter to Yang from Ballmer


Mashup Contest for students – from Microsoft:

Microsoft Press Release:

To raise awareness for Microsoft’s Live@edu, Microsoft is holding a contest among student software developers to see who can design the best application for Windows Live!

– PRIZES –
● One Grand Prize Winner – $10,000 cash
● Two Runners Up – $2,500 cash each
● Two Third Place Prizes – XBox 360 Halo 3 Prize Pack ($500 value)

Contest Link:
http://www.campusmashups.com

Sample Mashups and how to get started:
http://dev.live.com/mashups/

– JUDGING –
● 25% Public Opinion (GET YOUR FRIENDS TO VOTE!)
● 25% Usage of Windows Live Tools
● 50% Creativity and Utility of Application

Participants must submit their application by March 31st, 2008!

Google’s launches Google Sky


Over at Webguild I blogged about Google Sky, the new Astronomy mapping tool from Google that has come out before the much anticipated Microsoft World Wide Telescope project which is not available yet.

I’ll be doing most of my technology and business blogging over at Webguild.org from now on, with more personal stuff here at Joe Duck.

Microsoft Fined 1.4 billion by European Union – market yawns


Despite a record fine of 1.4 billion dollars by the EU for failing to share code, Microsoft’s stock price dropped just a tiny bit today – a drop not even clearly associated with the ruling.     Given that the fine represents only a fraction of a percent of Microsoft’s capitalization and that it removes some uncertainty from the always massive MS legal equation it is probably reasonable to assume the market had pretty much fully incorporated the EU instability into the price of Microsoft.

The BBC Reports

Microsoft’s Engagement Mapping … a quantum leap … in BS?


Initially I read the Microsoft engagement mapping announcement thinking this would be a remarkable innovation. They are claiming that EM will track a consumers interaction with advertising all the way to the point of sale which if done accurately would be a watershed in advertising accountability.

We’ve noted in many posts before how poorly advertisers track offline and even online advertising effectiveness, usually resorting to opportunisic reporting and explanations by their advertising agencies or reporting firms that stay in business because they support the agency advertising spends using questionable metrics.

Enter Engagement Mapping. Microsoft says:

The ‘last ad clicked’ is an outdated and flawed approach because it essentially ignores all prior interactions the consumer has with a marketer’s message,” said Brian McAndrews, senior vice president of the Advertiser & Publisher Solutions (APS) Division at Microsoft. “Our Engagement Mapping approach conveys how each ad exposure whether display, rich media or search, seen multiple times on multiple sites and across many channels influenced an eventual purchase. We believe it represents a quantum leap for advertisers and publishers who are seeking to maximize their online spends.” (bolding mine)

Read the bolded sentence again. Although I’ll have to see the methodology before rejecting it as bogus, that last line does not really suggest objectivity here. Rather it appears this is yet another way for a metric to support a course of action (increase online ad spending) rather than measure the effectiveness of that action.

This is standard fare for ad agencies who feed their kids by exaggerating the effectiveness of their campaigns so I guess it’s no surprise that Microsoft is going to help them do that for the online spends, which benefit…..wait for it ….. GOOGLE! And Microsoft too. But given Google’s approximately 50% share of all online spends I think Eric Schmidt should send Steve Ballmer a really nice gift. Maybe a even a Lazy Boy CHAIR?

MicrosoftOxymorons


OK, not quite an oxymoron, but here is the latest “headline” from Microsoft that comes pretty close to contradicting it’s own strategic premise:

Microsoft Makes Strategic Changes in Technology and Business Practices to Expand Interoperability.
New interoperability principles and actions will increase openness of key products.

Huh?   Oh, OK, now I get it.  Hey, that really is big news, but I wonder if many folks will have a clue what all this means until it’s intrepreted by the media which is generally not all that sympathetic to the Big MS.     Why do they write like this?    It’s bad enough that these initiatives come like Microsoft is Google’s lap dog, chasing away at quality innovation two or three years too late.   Can’t they find somebody to state this stuff clearly?

It seems to me microsoft routinely shoots themselves in the foot before they are even out of the gate.  This happens for many reasons, but it is almost as if the company actually believes all the bad things about them and thinks they can only maintain dominance via monopoly and power plays rather than ….ummm…. working a lot harder to be customer centric, highly communicative, innovative and clever.    They can do it, but they don’t do it. 

Ironically all these goals are a key part of  what they are trying to do with this excellent open architecture  strategic initiative, but I think this great idea is almost lost in the bizarre Microsoft doublespeak we’ve all come to know and shake our heads at.

How would Google write a corresponding headline?

Microsoft Headline:
Microsoft Makes Strategic Changes in Technology and Business Practices to Expand Interoperability.
New interoperability principles and actions will increase openness of key products.

Google Headline: 
We’re OPEN!

Yahoo Headline:
Help, we are about to be held prisoner in a Microsoft Soylent Green Fortune Cookie Factory!