Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Day 32, Yahoo Held Hostage: Microsoft Recruiting “Big-Name CEOs” for New Board?


Since BoomTown did an obsessive countdown after Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang last year unwisely promised a 100-day, top-to-bottom look at the company, with “no sacred cows” spared (as it turned out, they all were), I decided that–after the month-mark had passed since Microsoft (MSFT) made its unsolicited bid for Yahoo (YHOO)–it was time for a count-up!

Thus, Day 32 (we’re counting from Friday, Feb. 1, when the offer was made public)!

And, frankly, with the added Leap Day this year to add to Yahoo’s agony, this battle is getting about as exciting as Yang’s 100-day slog–with nothing really page-turning on the horizon since Yahoo’s board kicked Microsoft’s $31-per-share offer to the curb several weeks ago.

Now, of course, Microsoft is returning the favor by loudly prepping a proxy fight and trotting out Silicon Valley companies like TellMe to report that a Microsoft takeover is just hunky-dory.

“We are pretty much doing everything we were doing before–just a lot more of it,” said TellMe head Mike McCue to the Associated Press, with the cheeriness of someone with acute Stockholm syndrome and $800 million in Microsoft money.

And if happy, shiny, Windows-cash-gorged tech people don’t impress, according to several sources close to Microsoft, perhaps a little fear factor will work better.

Said these sources, there will be “three to four big-name CEOs” on its list of new board members that Microsoft must nominate in the next two weeks for its slate of directors to replace Yahoo’s current board.

BoomTown recently reported that the software giant was sniffing around for prospects in Silicon Valley.

But, sorry to say, I still cannot figure out what CEOs these are, despite a lot of effort to find out.

So, I started trying to figure it out myself, focusing on tech and Web execs, who are the obvious choices.

Nonetheless, after going over a long list of possible execs, none of the ones I considered seems likely to turn on Yahoo.

Intel? No, CEO Paul Otellini is on the board of Google.

eBay? No, that’s too big a move for the new CEO John Donahoe.

Sun? No, after Scott McNealy’s funny diatribes against Microsoft for so long, CEO Jonathan Schwartz simply cannot.

Dell? No, CEO and Founder Michael Dell has his hands full.

Amazon? CEO and Founder Jeff Bezos is sassy and lives up near Microsoft, but it would be a real slap at another Web icon like Yang.

WPP Group’s Sir Martin Sorrell? Well, to include an ad biggie would be a good move and Sorrell likes to make pointed remarks about Google, but not that sharp.

Frankly, other than non-tech companies, of which there are probably many choices who owe Microsoft in some way, I am officially out of guesses.


Well, of course, except for one Web 2.0 CEO, who has a big name and is in great–and I mean, great–debt to Microsoft.

In fact, $240 million worth of IOUs. In other words, Facebook CEO and Founder Mark Zuckerberg.

It would be ironic (Yahoo tried to buy Facebook a little more than a year ago), it would be poetic (only in Silicon Valley does the young eat its old) and it would be really fun to watch the fireworks (Facebook is no friend of Google’s).

Most of all, Zuckerberg on the board of Microsoft’s Yahoo would be Steve Ballmer’s ultimate SuperPoke at Yahoo.

Please see this disclosure related to me and Google.