Only in Silicon Valley could a CEO get away talking about their brand “kicking ass”, but Yahoo’s in Silicon Valley and Carol Bartz is their new tough talking CEO, who today wrote in Yahoo’s official blog “Yahoo Anecdotal” that Yahoo is “Getting our house in order“. Among other thing Bartz says she is :
….rolling out a new management structure that I believe will make Yahoo! a lot faster on its feet. For us working at Yahoo!, it means everything gets simpler. We’ll be able to make speedier decisions, the notorious silos are gone, and we have a renewed focus on the customer. For you using Yahoo! every day, it will better enable us to deliver products that make you say, “Wow.”
When former Yahoo CEO and co-founder Jerry Yang (Yahoo was co-founded with David Filo) left the company a few months ago Carol Bartz stepped in aggressively, presumably tasked by Yahoo’s board to either turn the company around or prepare for a sale of Yahoo Search, or perhaps even the entire company, to Microsoft.
Given that turning Yahoo around is considered by most to be extremely challenging and long term, I think we should assume Bartz is working the Microsoft sales angle even though much of the tough talk is more along today’s lines of restoring the second most recognizable internet brand to at least a shadow of Yahoo’s former glory. Note though that even assuming a sale to MIcrosoft is in the goal, it’s probably in Yahoo shareholder’s best interests for Bartz to talk and work towards shoring up the brand, hoping to encourage Microsoft to offer more of a premium over the current share price than they might if they knew a deal was inevitable.
We can get some insight into what Carl Icahn – one of Yahoo’s largest shareholders and board members - is looking for in this deal thanks to this excellent report on his stock holdings and pricing. With an average share price is in the neighborhood of $20-25, I would argue that Icahn wants Microsoft to come in somewhere north of that for him to agree to a sale. Microsoft offered $31 officially last year before the stock meltdown and most fell they would have paid about $34, but clearly that deal is long off the table. However given Microsoft’s lackluster online performance and the chance for a crack at Google’s dominance, look for Microsoft to make an offer soon. Look for Yahoo to probably take it.
DISCLOSURE: Technology Reporter Joe Hunkins is long on YHOO