Yahoo: The Road to No Deal

The following is a timeline of key events leading up to Yahoo’s Aug. 1 annual meeting.

2006 January – Yahoo Inc begins to report a string of weak quarterly results, reflecting competitive missteps by the company, market share gains by rival Google Inc, changes in the online advertising landscape and weakening spending in some ad segments.


2006 – Microsoft Corp and Yahoo begin preliminary talks on various partnerships, including a merger.

Semel2007 February – Yahoo, under the leadership of previous Chief Executive Terry Semel, tells Microsoft it is not the right time to discuss a takeover, as the YangYahoo board sees great potential in its new advertising technology and by making internal organizational changes.

2007 June 12 – A strong minority of Yahoo shareholders challenges the company’s direction, as CEO Semel comes under fire. Nearly a third of votes cast at the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting oppose some of Yahoo’s directors.

Who says the economy is killing advertising?

dollars.jpgQuarterly results arrived today from Interpublic Group and Publicis. Guess what? Advertising spending held up in the second quarter, at least for the two ad companies.

You would think — given all the doom and gloom — that corporations would have sharply cut back on spending in the second quarter. Indeed, just about every expert out there has cut spending forecasts.

Yet Interpublic, home of DraftFCB and McCann-Erickson, posted revenue that raced right past expectations and said it was well on the way to achieving its goals for the year.

Microsoft: Here’s the lowdown on Yahoo

ballmer.jpgSo often with these things, there’s a lot of PR-speak and dancing around. But let’s give Microsoft’s top brass some credit –  they pretty much addressed the whole Yahoo thing head on during the annual meeting with Wall Street analysts up in Washington state.

Finance chief Chris Liddel was particularly clear on the subject. Take it from his boss, Steve Ballmer.

“I think Chris was just about as black and white on that topic as we’ve ever been,” Ballmer said shortly after Liddell finished speaking.

Microsoft’s next online chief

jonmiller.jpgMicrosoft’s president of platforms and services Kevin Johnson, who spearheaded the company’s pursuit of Yahoo, plans to bolt for the top job at nearby Juniper in a move that deals a setback to the software giant’s online chase after Google.

AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher comes up with a shortlist of candidates from her sources that include a roster of insiders, led by aQuantive’s Brian McAndrews, with SVP Satya Nadella, who will run search, MSN and ad platform engineering efforts in a new reorg, and Strategic Partnerships SVP Yusuf Mehdi, who has previously led online businesses at Microsoft, considered long shots.

Heading the list of external candidates is former AOL Chief Jon Miller, who also happens to be a candidate for Yahoo’s board after activist investor Carl Icahn settled with Yahoo this week.

Yahoo’s Decker on Icahn: The “audacity of hope”?

icahn1.jpgAs volte faces go, the Yahoo-Carl Icahn slugfest-turned-lovefest is a definite keeper for some future annal of corporate history. Until last week, Yahoo couldn’t slam Icahn enough, mocking the activist investor’s knowledge of technology, calling his agenda risky, and pointing to his failure to articulate clear alternatives to a Microsoft deal.

But since they made nice on Monday, rest assured we’re going to hear nothing but a din of welcome notes from Yahoo, as they sell to shareholders the idea that Icahn and his two designees are good for the board.

Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock set the sweet, full-of-possibility tone about Icahn on Monday, and Yahoo President Sue Decker picked up where he left off in a CNBC interview today:

Yahoo: We’ve looked at everything you can imagine

yahoo.jpgIf for some reason you assumed that Yahoo’s deal with Carl Icahn would quiet the chatter about a deal, you were mistaken. The conference call to discuss quarterly earnings made that clear.

Past distractions, future possibilities, it was all there for listeners. The only problem is that for all the chatter on the call about deals, there was no real insight offered about what Yahoo might do.

Here’s a look at what Yahoo’s executives said about M&A during the call:

Yahoo settles with Icahn

icahn.jpgIs Yahoo letting the fox in the hen house or did activist investor Carl Icahn settle after eyeing weakness in his campaign?

Whatever the case, Yahoo’s settlement with Icahn, who had planned to run a rival board slate but now gets three board seats including himself and possibly former AOL Chief Jon Miller, averts what was expected to be a bloody battle on Aug. 1.

Miller, who was pushed out of the Time Warner division, was responsible for turning the subscriber-losing AOL into an Internet company after dismantling its walled garden.

Yahoo: who prints their email?

We can spend a lot of time analyzing how Yahoo really feels about Carl Icahn and his rival slate. But this, found at the top of Yahoo’s latest proxy filing and its homepage, says it all.

(Photo: Yahoo)

Google, Microsoft augur tougher times ahead

googlesign.jpgGoogle’s second quarter earnings disappointed Wall Street yesterday and sent its shares tumbling. The search giant blamed lower returns from managing its huge cash piles but analysts are also concerned the market leader in search advertising might augur a wider slowdown in online advertising.

Google itself said revenue growth from search ads was “positive” in every sector except for real estate, which was down by a small amount.

But the Street wasn’t convinced, perhaps because Microsoft also disappointed with its quarterly earnings citing “tough” economic conditions which impacted its software business and online ad sales.

AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft talks heat up

bewkes4.jpgTime Warner’s talks with Yahoo and separately with Microsoft have taken on renewed urgency as a pivotal Yahoo annual shareholders meeting approaches, a source tells us.

But are the discussions earnest or is AOL being used as a pawn in an increasingly ugly battle that will ultimately lead to a linkup of Microsoft and Yahoo? It’s hard to tell at this point as a steady stream news, punctuated by public accusations of “misleading” statements come from Microsoft, Yahoo and billionaire investor Carl Icahn, make handicapping the outcome difficult.

Icahn, who holds a 5 percent stake in Yahoo, has waged a proxy battle to remove Yahoo’s board and has aligned himself with Microsoft to seal a deal.