Microsoft Giving Up On Yahoo? Does It Matter?

Posted by Bull Bear Trader | 6/12/2008 06:18:00 PM | , , | 0 comments »

After a short hibernation, the Microsoft-Yahoo saga is back in the news (for the time being I am taking the ! off the Yahoo name given that the excitement is now gone). Per the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft and Yahoo have decided to give up their plan courtship, but of course, each leaves open the right to form some type of partnership in the future. Yahoo then went right out and got engaged to Google (which it can back out of with a change in leadership - i.e., Yahoo decides later it really prefers Microsoft).

To be honest, it is all a little boring anymore. Like many merger agreements and talks, value usually gets destroyed instead of created. This certainly seems true for Microsoft, given that Yahoo is now partnering with their main rival Google. For their troubles, Microsoft left with nothing but a bruised ego and a stronger main competitor. Microsoft stock did pop on the news, as investors were glad that the distraction was gone, at least for now. Eventually they will realize they lost this part of the Internet, and will begin scratching their heads and wondering what to do next - as well as praying that the Xbox 360 numbers are better than expected, and that Vista is not really that bad. Sigh.

Of course, Yahoo really did not fair much better. For a company that built itself on search, they have essentially farmed-out the business to their main competitor. Exactly how this is good in the long-run is difficult to understand. But as Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang mention, this will bring $800 million in annual revenue through improved monetization. No mention was made of loss of market share. Sigh.

And of course, there are the billionaires - Icahn, Pickens, and Cuban. Cuban will not get his board seat, and Icahn and Pickens, well, they will not get richer - at least not yet. I am sure they will be fine. As for the other Yahoo investors, some of which were invested through funds, well, they did not fair as well. Each may have a wait a while before seeing Yahoo at the proposed $35 a share price. Sigh.

Any winners? The same winner before everything was put into motion - Google. Without really doing too much it was able to chop a leg out from under and weaken the behemoth Microsoft, who while inept in search and the Internet, still has a lot of money to throw around. At the same time it took its next closest competitor and put a leash on it. Not bad for six months of press releases and the extension of a previous beta test agreement with a competitor.

In the end, nothing much has changed. Microsoft continues to trip over itself when it comes to the Internet, Yahoo continues to destroy value, the billionaires are still rich, small investors still absorb the lost capital, and Google continues to dominate search. Myself? I just feel a little hung-over.