Yahoo’s Deal or No Deal Game With Microsoft

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yahoo_microsoft.jpgThe latest in online games doesn’t appear to be another fantasy RPG, but is instead an analysts’ hair-puller like Deal or No Deal between Yahoo and Microsoft, but without Howie Mandell.

The search engine turned Web portal has been in talks with Microsoft and most seem to agree that it’s been about search. Yahoo could potentially outsource their search to the Seattle giant, but nobody appears to want to confirm or deny any deals that might be coming from the talks.

Just to stir the pot and ad more confusion to the whirlwind of rumors, Yahoo’s CEO Carol Bartz made sure to dance around the subject without confirming, denying, or even keeping board room rancor in place during the corporation’s first quarter earnings conference call. She F-bombed the end of the call, just to prove her point.

The call’s emphasis was on both Yahoo’s lackluster numbers (which were expected) and on Yahoo’s future going forward. ZD Net says “It’s unclear whether Yahoo’s earnings call dance was choreographed but it was quite effective at confusing the hell out of people. ” She stated that:

“It is critical to our customers and partners that they have a combined search display experience on the Internet and so I haven’t changed my position on that. Relative to anything else with Microsoft, I actually have no comment.”

A big part of Yahoo’s troubles lies in their internal employee balance, she went on. Yahoo has one product person for every three engineers, so those engineers spend more time responding to requests than they do developing anything. Which makes me wonder if working at Yahoo isn’t a lot like a real-world version of The Office.

It was at this point that Bartz dropped the F-bomb.

“So we had a lot of people running around telling engineers what to do but nobody is f—ing doing anything.”

The really amazing thing in all this is that despite the totally confusing conference call report and the flood of analysts spouting opinions based on confusion, Yahoo’s stock actually pipped 5% in after-hours trading right after Bartz hung up.

No one is sure what Yahoo’s plans actually are. Bartz made it clear that they are cutting 5% of the workforce, outsourcing something (not a lot of detail on WHAT, exactly), and continue to “leverage strategic partnerships.” That could mean a partnership with Microsoft. Or not.

So which is it? Deal or No Deal?


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