Yahoo CEO and co-founder Jerry Yang emailed the company's 14,000 employees yesterday and assured them that Yahoo's executive staff was doing everything it could to avoid a takeover by Microsoft. Less than a week ago, Microsoft made a $44.6 billion hostile takeover bid for Yahoo, which has been struggling in recent years against Internet giant Google.
"Our board is thoughtfully evaluating a wide range of potential strategic alternatives in what is a complex and evolving landscape," Yang's email reads. "What's become clear in the past few days is how much people care about this company. I've heard from many of you, and from other friends and colleagues from around Silicon Valley and across the globe, that we need to do what's best for Yahoo and our shareholders."
Industry reaction to the proposed purchase has been mixed, though most feel it would be healthy for Google to have at least a single healthy competitor. Currently, the company dominates online in the most important markets, search and advertising. Google, somewhat transparently, is attempting to scuttle the deal or at least delay it.
Spurning the Microsoft offer might not be easy. The Microsoft bid represents a huge premium over Yahoo's stock price, one that most shareholders will be eager to accept. Yahoo will thus have to find another partner with the financial wherewithal to offer a superior deal. And there are precious few companies like that. The only obvious one, Google, would face even more intense antitrust scrutiny than will Microsoft, because Google is already dominant in this market. Such a deal would almost certainly never be approved by regulators.
Yang's email was largely a cheerleading session aimed at bolstering the spirits of employees, which the company calls "yahoos." "We have a lot to be excited about and there's more good news to come," he wrote. "I want to make sure you all realize how essential you are to Yahoo's success." Well maybe not all of them: Yahoo announced it would lay off 1000 employees a week ago.