While the world awaits their copy of Steve Jobs’ biography there is still business being done (barely).
Amongst the most interesting stories / rumors / areas of great speculation is the possible sale of Yahoo. Yahoo has been in a tailspin for quite some time now. Things have changed though as the Carol Bartz era ended with her firing by phone and subsequent whining about this and that. The Jerry Yang re-emerged as somewhat of a voice for the company although it is difficult to take that seriously considering it was he who let the property slip from its once high flier status to its current state of “still gets a tone of traffic but no one can really figure out why or what it does” standing.
Now we see the likes of Microsoft, Alibaba and Google (yes, Google) making noise about buying Yahoo. It’s interesting to say the least since all would have very different reasons for taking such an action. The Wall Street Journal reports regarding Google
The swirl of potential deal activity around Yahoo Inc. is growing.
Google Inc. has talked to at least two private-equity firms about potentially helping them finance a deal to buy Yahoo’s core business, according to a person familiar with the matter. Google and prospective partners have held early-stage discussions but haven’t put together a formal proposal, the person said.
Jack Ma, CEO of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., the China-based Internet company in which Yahoo owns a roughly 40% stake, recently said he was interested in buying Yahoo, but it was unclear whether he has made a serious move to do so.
Microsoft is now considering financing a potential joint bid for Yahoo by extending loans to its deal partners and buying preferred stock in Yahoo, said people familiar with the matter. The deal’s structure would reflect Microsoft’s desire to limit its risk.
The software company has been in discussions about a potential joint proposal for Yahoo with private-equity firm Silver Lake Partners and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, people familiar with the matter have said. Microsoft’s contribution would likely be several billion dollars, although the exact amount hasn’t been decided, the people said.
It’s all very interesting but the most interesting option appears to be Google. First, even without all the details one would have to believe that the regulatory scrutiny of a deal like that might squash the concept before it became reality. Then there is the little Bing and Yahoo search thing but let’s not quibble about details :-).
From another angle, this potential merger of Google and Yahoo could the one that Facebook would keep a close eye on because while Yahoo struggles to define itself it still has a very large and seemingly loyal following that could be perfect for Google to get more traction through Google+. Granted many Yahoo users likely are Facebookers currently but it could be a very powerful platform for Google to try to give Google+ the boost it needs to truly go mainstream.
Personally, I am rooting for Google because would be the most fun to watch. If Microsoft gets truly involved with Yahoo beyond the search agreement we would all just put the combined effort in our Internet dead pools and watch for the next massive screw-up. That gets old fast. As for Alibaba? Well, if a Chinese company takes control of a large web property like that it would be interesting for sure considering the censorship issues that it would likely stir up but China as a market is for another day in the Internet space until they play by the rest of the world’s rules.
So what’s your take on this? Would you like to see one of these companies perform corporate CPR on Yahoo? If so, which one and why?