Yahoo Deal All But Done?

One wonders when Yahoo will wake up and smell the cat food. (Microsoft's cat food, that is, to contort a musical sub-reference into a tech marketing quasi cliche.)

Naturally, Yahoo had to at least nominally (and oh so predictably) reject Microsoft's initial offer, but as the days of speculation drag on, the discussion seems about as serious as considering another Nader run for the presidency (okay, never mind the fact that Ralph is actually taking that idea seriously).

Sitting in the green room at Fox the other day and watching the Yahoo-Microsoft banter (which included the possibility that some of the largest Yahoo shareholders could sue if management doesn't take the deal), I could not help noticing that no one's heart was really in it. What everyone wanted to say but simply couldn't say on the air is that this deal is done. It's logical, obvious, and necessary for both parties. It's even a necessity for Google (they desperately need the competition or they'll die like Woody Allen's shark, and it will blunt the growing anti-trust problems Google faces).

And the idea that has been floated of melding AOL and Yahoo is such a terrifically terrible idea (and the source of endless jokes in New York), it only serves to underscore the fact that the Microhoo deal is all but done. The preposterous AOL idea–let's give Time Warner Yahoo so that it drive it straight into the ground like its other online endeavors (as if that would preserve Time Warner's core businesses)–illustrates in high-contrast colors that Yahoo has no other option than to accept the Microsoft offer. Joining with AOL is almost as crazy an idea as letting Mr. Potter "help" George Bailey (hello, Google?).

The cynics among us, of course, are going to point to the rather half-hearted rejection from Yahoo as being utterly disingenuous. There wasn't even any indignation in the tone, they'll say, which has been standard operating procedure in dealing with Microsoft proposals for over a decade and a half. A lack of indignation means you (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) really want to be acquired.

So, Yahoo's apparent rejection reminds me of those wonderfully subversive Nancy Reagan era "Just Say No" buttons that when tilted said "Yes!" Maybe someone should get a box of the buttons and send then to Yahoo HQ. 

Those who want to bet on when Yahoo will officially accept a Microsoft bid can post their bets in the comments section here….

Update: Apparently some major Yahoo shareholders agree that this is all but over. See The Deal's Legg Mason: Yahoo! in a "tough spot."


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About jquain

Technology reporter, writer, and television correspondent, JQ has been covering the computer, communications, and consumer electronics industries for more than 25 years.A contributor to The New York Times, Popular Mechanics, PC Magazine, U.S. News & World Report and many other publications, JQ appears on CBS News television program Up to the Minute and on Fox Business.
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