The on-again/off-again Microsoft/Yahoo! deal is on again - maybe. There's something about being a co-founder of a business that affects how you think. Jerry Yang is a co-founder and the CEO of Yahoo! and he seems to be laboring under the mis-impression that "co-founder" still means "owner." If you want to own a business, you shouldn't make it into a corporation and sell shares. The shareholders that really own Yahoo! are very receptive to Microsoft's latest overture to at least make a deal for Yahoo's search function and some other assets. And they're safeguarding their interest by sending minders along with Jerry Yang to the meetings.
But this time, according to several investors, Yahoo is making sure things go a little better, especially given the increasing anger on the part of its shareholders and the recent proxy attack from billionaire investor Carl Icahn.
Thus, Yahoo’s Chairman Roy Bostock himself has assured major investors that there are now others in the room–such as Yahoo’s independent directors, who are being called “adult supervision”–to make sure Yahoo’s (YHOO) latest revived talks with Microsoft (MSFT) go more smoothly.
“I would have been happy with a $33 price then and I would be happy with one now,” said one big investor to me this week. “But since that’s not happening now, I would like then to not screw up these new talks.”
"Adult supervision." Ouch. What's funny about this whole process is that Microsoft probably didn't really want to buy Yahoo!; they offered to buy the whole company for a premium to get the search function and compete with Google. Now they have an opportunity to get their hands on the only part of the business they wanted without being forced to buy the whole thing. Nice going, Jerry! I hope someone takes you to the bathroom if you drink too much Juicy Juice at the current round of meetings.