Yahoo thoughts and Microsoft dreams

April 7, 2008: 1:00 PM ET

I thought I would begin the week here by taking a moment of silence for all the good folks at Yahoo (YHOO), now under assault by the great and powerful conquistodor from Redmond (MSFT).  Today Yahoo management found it necessary to combat comments made by Microsoft top pate Steve Ballmer to the effect that the company was in serious trouble and would probably tank in the very near future without the timely rescue now under consideration. This could be seen by some cynics as a blatant attempt to lower the value of the property Mr. Ballmer and team are looking to acquire, but you won't find any cynics here. Just sympathetic skeptics who have been there and done that.

I personally have been part of a merger/acquisition scenario more times than I care to contemplate. It's like a flu. You feel it coming on. Then you either get it or you don't. Unfortunately, much of the time once you get that first tickle in the back of your organizational throat, it's already too late. You're going down. First the headache. Then the fever. Then you're flat on your back for a long, long time, with the possibility, unless you get some appropriate treatment, that you may die. This is particularly true of very young and very old people, just like in a merger scenario where the lowest and highest monkeys on the corporate tree are the most likely to be expunged by either friendly or unfriendly fire.

While you are falling into this particular viral swoon, you're not at your best, because your mind is taken up with a myriad of nightmares and obsessive thoughts that have nothing to do with the price of digital bananas. Herewith, two brief lists:

What People At Yahoo Are Thinking About

1. The price of their stock as it relates to the value of their enterprise;
2. Where their offices might be if/when a "merger" takes place and their corporate home is destroyed;
3. How lousy the job market is right now;
4. How high their mortgage rates are, suddenly;
5. Who they know at Microsoft they could potentially suck up to when the time is right;
6. What a yutz Steve Ballmer is to say such negative things about a company he is supposedly in love with;
7. How much they would like somebody to come along with a competing offer to shove down Microsoft's craw;
8. Whether they have enough to retire yet;
9. General miasma of free-floating anxiety attached to unrelated matters, like whether the garage needs weatherstripping;
10. Life is short and then you die.

What People At Yahoo Are NOT Thinking About (At Least As Much As They Probably Should)

1. How to maximize opportunities in a tough advertising market;
2. Long-term innovative projects that could pay off down the road a bit;
3. Creative use of expense accounts to make new friends and influence people;
4. How to compete with Microsoft and others for positioning in the marketplace;
5. Having fun.

In short, I feel for them and you should too, just the way our hearts go out to all the good people at Bear Stearns (BSC) who must now ask JP Morgan 9JPM) dudes for permission every time they want to visit the restroom.

There but for the grace of God, you know. And soon, too, I think. It's been a little too quiet for a while now, and anybody who's been around for a while knows exactly what that kind of quiescence means.

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