Monday, May 19, 2008

Microsoft and Yahoo - Saving Face All Around

According to reports today, Microsoft is floating an idea to buy Yahoo's search biz and take a "minority passive stake" in the company. Please. This is nothing more than a fig leaf to cover Microsoft's renewal of acquisition discussions.

Look, it would have made things difficult for Microsoft to simply come out and said, after two weeks of avowed denials, that they still want to buy Yahoo. And it would be similarly hard for Yahoo to say they realized they'd overplayed their hand and they're really amenable to a deal at $33 or $34 per share. So, they can both engage in this barely-plausible cover story, spend a little time "examining" the pros and cons on an asset sale + investment, before concluding that it really makes the most sense for MSFT to simply acquire YHOO outright.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Clearwire, Sprint, etc.

Congrats to my former colleagues at Clearwire for FINALLY getting the Wimax JV done with Sprint. Initial indications are that it was worth the wait - it's a full-blown, fully-funded deal that removes a huge measure of risk from Clearwire's business and allows it to roll out nationally. What's more, Clearwire - despite only owning 27% of the new JV -gets to run the whole thing.

You know the cable guys and Google insisted on Clearwire running the show for more reasons than just concern over potential conflicts between Wimax and Sprint's cellular service. One look at Sprint's operational track record over the last couple of years would have been all it took to make that decision.


It's been highly amusing watching Yahoo step in it over the Microsoft proposal - I just hope they aren't deluding themselves into thinking that anything less than $6 - $8 of their current share price is due to speculation the deal will come back on.

Will it? Ballmer has taken some heat for how this was handled (one of his folks reportedly called MSFT's handling of last weekend's events "amateur hour" - ouch!), but if this was a tactical play by the mercurial Ballmer it may have been a good one. Yang and Decker have been falling over themselves to say they'd still be happy to deal, and have all but admitted Yahoo would take $33 a share.

So - there's still a decent shot this deal gets done. The price differential just isn't that great. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised to see it get done for a buck or two less than MSFT's last offer of $33 when Yahoo comes back hat in hand to revive the deal.