Yahoo! Addresses The Troops (And So Does Microsoft)

Microsoft Yahoo

With all the furor about Microsoft’s potential acquisition of Yahoo!, how do the Yahoo! employees feel about the possibility?

Top Yahoo! execs addressed employees on Friday and followed it up with a company-wide email. The email emphasizes that the bid was unsolicited, that no decisions have been made, and that Microsoft’s proposal is one of many options the board is considering.

Jerry Yang and Roy Bostock (the new non-executive chairman, after Terry Semel’s departure last week) encourage employees to keep focusing on their core business and executing current strategy.

The email reads (non-capital letters and all):

“fellow yahoos:

since we talked to you this morning, there’s been a lot of media coverage and industry chatter about microsoft’s unsolicited proposal to acquire yahoo!. we know you’ve been hearing and reading a lot about this. that’s why we wanted to reach out to all of you at the end of the day to emphasize a few things that we hope will give you some more context about this proposal, the process that our board is taking, and what you can expect in the days ahead.

first, we want to emphasize that absolutely no decisions have been made — and, despite what some people have tried to suggest, there’s certainly no integration process underway. this proposal is just that — a proposal. and it was only made in the last 24 hours. you can be sure the board is going to review it thoughtfully and carefully, and do what’s right for our great company. microsoft’s proposal is one of many options that we’re evaluating in order to maximize value for our shareholders and employees over the long-term. that’s why we will respond to microsoft after our board has completed a careful review of all of our strategic alternatives.

second, we can’t let any of the noise we’re hearing around this situation distract us from our core mission. it’s critical that we continue to focus on running our business, executing our strategy and delivering value to all of our users, advertisers and publishers.

finally, we realize that this may have been a tough day for many of you, especially those on the front lines of our business. we know you have many questions, and we’re committed to making sure you’re as informed as possible as this process moves forward. in the interim, we both want to thank you for your continued energy, focus and determination. we’ll continue to share information with you as we have it and can do so.

jerry and roy bostock (our new non-executive chairman)”

Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer sent a similar email to Microsoft employees on Friday after a company meeting, which read in part:

“Our complementary assets will give us increased talent and scale to compete in the markets of search and online advertising, and pioneer new innovations in the areas of video, mobile services, online commerce, and social media… During this transition period, I urge you to stay focused on your commitments and team goals. We are committed to communicating with you frequently as our leadership team works on bringing the two companies together.”

Both emails stress that they’ll keep employees informed and that everyone should stay focused on current projects until the dust settles. The difference between them is that Microsoft’s letter seems to consider the acquisition a done deal other than the ink drying, whereas Yahoo! hasn’t quite got the pen in hand yet. Both companies could have done a better job of reassuring current employees of their value, since after all, while the attention is on the potential industry and product impact, Yahoo! and Microsoft employees are likely mostly concerned with impact that’s a little more personal.

Update: The transcript of Microsoft’s employee webcast on Friday is now available as well.

Kevin Johnson said, in part:

“It doesn’t make sense to have thousands of engineers at Yahoo working on a search index, thousands of engineers at Microsoft working on the same search index. By combining, we can have one team of people across the two companies working on the search index, and then have others continue to focus on areas where we’ve defined differentiation in search. New search verticals and expanded user experience for search. We’ve got so many ideas, more engineers applied to those ideas will drive breakthroughs in search. This is about expanding our engineering capability. Now, certainly, you look and say, well, we also understand it’s about operational efficiency. Yes, it is. There are duplicate costs across Yahoo and Microsoft.

…It also means looking at every discipline and ensuring, number one, that we have the right people in the right jobs and, number two, the right amount of resources allocated to that particular function. Again, that will be handled in a very thoughtful process.

…Together, we’re going to figure out with Yahoo how to make sure we have the right people in the right jobs, that we have the right amount of resources allocated to the right areas.

While it makes sense that if the acquisition were to go through, duplicate teams wouldn’t continue to work on search in parallel, it would surely be a much larger undertaking to merge the teams and infrastructure than it would to simply use one or the other and build from it. The figuring out alone might take a bit of time.

Additional discussion at Techmeme.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Business Issues: Acquisitions & Investments | Channel: Industry | Microsoft & Yahoo Search Deal | Microsoft: Employees | Yahoo: Employees


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. She built Google Webmaster Central and went on to found software and consulting company Nine By Blue and create Blueprint Search Analytics< which she later sold. Her book, Marketing in the Age of Google, (updated edition, May 2012) provides a foundation for incorporating search strategy into organizations of all levels. Follow her on Twitter at @vanessafox.

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