Microsoft makes colossal bid for Yahoo in wake of chairman's departure
Confirming that his company had indeed been in discussions with Yahoo's senior management about a possible takeover throughout the last 18 months, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer revealed this morning he has personally placed an offer to Yahoo's board of directors, proposing a takeover whose value it estimates at $44.6 billion.
"We've been engaged in conversations with Yahoo management off and on for the last 18 months," Ballmer told reporters early this morning. He confirmed that he had a personal conversation with Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang yesterday, to discuss his formal offer to the board.
"Our companies really do share a vision for services and online advertising," he added. The offer appears to express an interest in keeping as many of Yahoo's engineers and technical staff as possible, though it is not as clear which parts, if any, of Yahoo's technical infrastructure and advertising platform would survive. Microsoft executives this morning appear to be focusing on Yahoo's market share position, employee base, and capital evaluation rather than its technology.
Platform division president Kevin Johnson made it clear later that the Yahoo brand would survive, but to what degree it survives is not yet stated. To that, Ballmer added that the Windows Live brand would survive anyway, since it is important to him that Windows embrace the online experience.
Ballmer's move comes in the wake of Yahoo chairman and former CEO Terry Semel having announced his resignation from the board of directors. Microsoft's statement this morning refers specifically to having been in communications with Yahoo's chairman -- presumably Semel -- and his prior refusal to entertain Microsoft's offers.
Here is the publicly released version of Ballmer's offer to Yahoo's board of directors, in its entirety:
9:26 am ET February 1, 2008 - In its own statement this morning, Yahoo confirmed that it is considering what it characterizes as an unsolicited takeover proposal.
"[The] Board of Directors will evaluate this proposal carefully and promptly in the context of Yahoo's strategic plans and pursue the best course of action to maximize long-term value for shareholders," the statement reads.
BetaNews will be covering all aspects of this historic takeover offer throughout the day. Stay in touch with BetaNews for more facts, insight, and analysis.