In what may be a sign that Yahoo is starting to accept the very real possibility of being acquired by Microsoft, various sources, including the Wall Street Journal and CNET, are reporting that informal discussions were held between the companies on Monday in Silicon Valley. According to the WSJ’s report, Microsoft representatives pitched their vision for a combined company and “Yahoo executives mostly listened.”
The article also says that no further talks have been scheduled. Still, it marks the first time that the companies have met face-to-face since the original bid was announced by Microsoft in a press release on February 1.
Microsoft has been preparing to nominate an alternative slate of Yahoo directors who would be more friendly to a takeover, as part of a potential hostile takeover bid. TechCrunch has a rumored list of who some of those people might be.
A better outcome for both companies, if the merger is in fact inevitable, would be a voluntary scenario and acceptance of the deal at Yahoo — at least at the management level. That could spare some of the ill will that would no doubt result from a proxy fight.
It’s not clear, however, whether the discussions held on Monday will lead to that scenario or whether they were merely part of an effort to fulfill Yahoo’s obligation to investors to seriously consider the Microsoft bid. I don’t believe that the meeting was a perfunctory exercise on Yahoo’s part, however.
In a related article, SF Chronicle offers a profile of Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang as a “poker player,” as well as a skilled and tough executive. It discusses Yang’s life-long involvement enjoyment of the game, which leads to some obvious cliches. For example, it’s safe to say this game with Microsoft has higher stakes than any Yang has played before and, whatever the outcome, Yang is clearly “all in.”