REDMOND, Wash. — Feb. 1, 2008 — Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) today announced that it has made a proposal to the Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) Board of Directors to acquire all the outstanding shares of Yahoo! common stock for per share consideration of $31 representing a total equity value of approximately $44.6 billion. Microsoft’s proposal would allow the Yahoo! shareholders to elect to receive cash or a fixed number of shares of Microsoft common stock, with the total consideration payable to Yahoo! shareholders consisting of one-half cash and one-half Microsoft common stock. The offer represents a 62 percent premium above the closing price of Yahoo! common stock on Jan. 31, 2008.
“We have great respect for Yahoo!, and together we can offer an increasingly exciting set of solutions for consumers, publishers and advertisers while becoming better positioned to compete in the online services market,” said Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer of Microsoft. “We believe our combination will deliver superior value to our respective shareholders and better choice and innovation to our customers and industry partners.”
On the face of it the offer is a pretty decent one. My one concern is what a sale could mean for the Yahoo! services I have been using and love like a close cousin, Flickr and del.icio.us. What will the Microsoft effect be on these fine services? The debate about the merits of this purchase are likely to mirror the debate about Microsoft’s purchase of a stake in Facebook last year although this time around the fervor will be that much more intense. We’re now talking about everyone at Yahoo! running Windows Vista with a smile, not just the latest update to Windows Live Messenger.
This could be bad.
That being said it could really make things interesting between Microsoft and Google. I would actually prefer that Google buy up Yahoo! and really stick it to Redmond but I haven’t seen anything about such a move. I would be far more comfortable if Flickr and del.icio.us wound up in Google’s hands. I don’t know what I will do if this sale actually goes through. I have a fortune of content invested in those two services alone and would have to have to look at an alternative. I guess one option would be to ignore the Microsoft presence but that would be downright dishonest and, like so many other precedents in history, a bad idea.
What would you do? Close your Yahoo! accounts and get the heck out of there or stick with the services you have grown to love, regardless of the Microsoft influence?