Microsoft’s Yahoo road show: the sequel

MediaFile wrote last week about Steve Ballmer’s world tour to promote Microsoft’s unsolicited takeover bid for Yahoo. Now that the Microsoft has walked away and the odds for Microhoo aren’t looking so hot, Microsoft execs have fanned out across the globe to explain the company’s decision. To Skhirat, Morocco, San Donato Milanese, Italy and Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, we can now add Seoul, London and Jakarta.

Let’s put them up on the big board!

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Microsoft: A Thousand Times No

And it was thus decreed that the messengers of Steve Ballmer were sent far across the land to say No to an alliance with the kingdom of Yahoo:
“Yahoo could always come back again and say please buy us for $33 (a share) and I’m sure we might reconsider it, but we’re not assuming that’s going to happen,” Microsoft Chief Research and Strategy Office Craig Mundie to Reuters in Jakarta, May 8. 

“The conclusion was reached that we should pursue our independent path,” Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates in Tokyo, May 7.    
“The key decisions on that will be made by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who took a look at Yahoo and decided that, on our own, he likes the stuff that we’re doing,” Gates in Seoul, May 6.

“We decided to move on and basically withdraw our offer …. Absolutely, that’s the end of the story. We are moving on because our strategy is very clear,” Microsoft International President Jean-Philippe Courtois to Reuters in London, May 6.

Is Yahoo’s Yang toast?

steve-case-frowns.jpgLegendary media money manager Gordon Crawford blasted Yahoo Chief Jerry Yang for blowing the Microsoft deal in high profile interviews with the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

“I am extremely angry at Jerry Yang and at the so-called independent board,” Crawford told the Times. ”I’m hoping that there is such an outpouring of outrage that the board is embarrassed into revisiting this thing …  but I’m not optimistic about that.”

It may not be wise to aggravate Crawford, portfolio manager for Capital Research Global Investors, a division of Capital Research & Management, which owns 16 percent of Yahoo.

WPP won’t be left out of takeover drama

It may not seem as sexy as Yahoo-Microsoft, but there is another notable takeover saga brewing in media. This one is between WPP, the British advertising group, and Taylor Nelson Sofres, the market research firm.

Why does WPP want TNS badly enough that it continued to urge the research firm to engage in talks even after its $1.9 billion bid had been rejected?

It’s partly because research has become so much more essential to advertising these days. With so many media outlets, it doesn’t come as a shock that advertisers are desperate for more information about their products and markets.

Yahoo – jilted lover or masterful tactician?

yang-photo.jpgYahoo Chief Jerry Yang is leaving the door open to Microsoft, he tells us. In an interview with Reuters’ Michele Gershberg, Yang says he had been seeking common ground when Microsoft abruptly ended deal talks.

Yang: “We were negotiating a way to find common ground and then on Saturday they chose to walk away.”

Asked if they’re up for more from Microsoft, Yang says, “If they have anything new to say, we would be open … I am more than willing to listen.”

Forty ‘no comments’ from Yahoos

Now that Microsoft Corp has withdrawn its bid for Yahoo Inc, one of the questions on the minds of many (MediaFile included) is what’s the attitude like at the Web company’s leafy Sunnyvale, California headquarters. Elation? Disappointment? Anger? Frustration? Relief? Fear? Pride? Confusion?yahoo-headquarters.jpg

So I made the drive to the Yahoo campus today to find out. Security at the main gate turned me away, but I managed to take cover behind a Yahoo sign and ask employees as they walked by if they would mind talking about the whole Microsoft thing.

Here’s what I got: No thank you, politely, from 40 people.

While I promised anonymity, Yahoos clearly aren’t in the mood to talk about their feelings publicly. At least not to a reporter at the company’s campus. Perhaps some of you out there would rather drop us a comment? Feel free. Fire away. Let us know how you feel.

Microsoft and Yahoo: what next?

Yahoo CEO Jerry YangNow that Microsoft has broken off its pursuit of Yahoo, the only thing we know for sure is that those two technology icons will not be merging (right now). Every other possibility and option for the two companies is up in the air. (One thing is for sure, Yahoo’s stock is already down more than 20 percent .)

There are no shortage of opinions:

** Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer is “under the gun” to spend the $46 billion earmarked for Yahoo. (New York Post)

** Yahoo’s Jerry Yang and his crew were “elated” when Microsoft withdrew its offer — but their joy may be short-lived. (Los Angeles Times) (NOTE – Yang in his own blog vaguely addresses reports of celebration breaking out in Yahoo’s camp:  “No one is celebrating about the outcome of these past three months… and no one should.”)

Ballmer seals all Yahoo exits

ballmer-gestures.jpgMicrosoft dumped its offer to buy Yahoo on Saturday. A closer reading of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s letter to Yahoo’s Jerry Yang shows Microsoft is content to do nothing less than choke the air supply out of Yahoo’s trachea.

Consider these sweet bon mots in Ballmer’s letter, which is also a thinly veiled salvo at Google:

We regard with particular concern your apparent planning to respond to a “hostile” bid by pursuing a new arrangement that would involve or lead to the outsourcing to Google of key paid Internet search terms offered by Yahoo! today. In our view, such an arrangement with the dominant search provider would make an acquisition of Yahoo! undesirable to us for a number of reasons:

Semel, Kotick pass the buck on Yahoo’s future

semel.jpgTalk about passing the buck.

During a panel discussion on media and entertainment at the Milken Institute Global Conference on Wednesday, former Yahoo! CEO Terry Semel swiftly deflected questions about the Internet company’s current pickle with Microsoft to his fellow panelist and Yahoo! board member Activision CEO Bobby Kotick.

Asked by moderator Dennis Kneale of CNBC how Yahoo had gotten itself in the position of being courted by Microsoft, Semel pointed to Kotick, who was sitting next to him.

“Ask the board member,” he said.

kotick.jpgBut Kotick wouldn’t bite. In fact, he said nothing at all.

Later on, Kneale tried again, asking another panelist, News Corp. President Peter Chernin, to tell Semel and Kotick what Yahoo! should do in response to Microsoft’s $44 billion bid.

Time Warner’s cable division setting sail

time-warner-center.jpgTime Warner Inc’s plan to split off its cable services division – widely expected by many and welcomed by some — raises just as many questions as it answers.

When is the split going to take place, for instance? And how? And what does this mean for AOL? Is it next up for a separation? Remember, Time Warner has already held discussions to merge the AOL unit with Yahoo Inc.

(Speaking of which, The Wall Street Journal says Microsoft could be making its next move in the takeover saga for Yahoo as early as Wednesday. One possibility: nominate a proxy slate of directors to replace the board at Yahoo. Also, Microsoft has considered earnmarking $1.5 billion to retain Yahoo employees should it win the company, Reuters says.)