"Microsoft is trying to get the milk without buying the cow…"
That’s a quote from a Reuters source on news that Microsoft is going back to the negotiating table with Yahoo, not to buy the entire company, but instead just a small slice of it.
In its official statement, Microsoft says…
…Microsoft is considering and has raised with Yahoo! an alternative that would involve a transaction with Yahoo! but not an acquisition of all of Yahoo! Microsoft is not proposing to make a new bid to acquire all of Yahoo! at this time, but reserves the right to reconsider that alternative depending on future developments and discussions that may take place with Yahoo! or discussions with shareholders of Yahoo! or Microsoft or with other third parties…
The common consensus has Microsoft buying–or at least partnering with–Yahoo’s search engine business only. Perhaps to beef up its own search offering, or perhaps simply to block a deal with Google.
Whatever the reason, I don’t see how this is getting "the milk without buying the cow." The milk isn’t Yahoo’s search business, it’s the company’s brand.
Sure, it would expand Microsoft’s search audience, if it could somehow become Yahoo’s official search engine partner, but where would that put the two companies? It would leave them with the same declining search audience–just chopped up differently.
The "milk" is Yahoo’s solid brand on the web. Yahoo is cool, Yahoo is trendy, Yahoo is the brand that Microsoft wished it could evolve "Live" into. Yahoo needs Microsoft’s determination and deep pockets. Microsoft needs the positive sentiment that’s cemented to Yahoo’s brand.
Any other "partnership" is just slapping lipstick on a couple of pigs cows.