Monday, May 05, 2008

Yahoo-Microsoft- Why are stock holders such whiners ?

I'm stepping way out of my usual area but I was driving home listening to NPR and some self-server lawyer was going on about who he was suing Yahoo in class-action lawsuit for shareholders (some of these suits started 2 1/2 months ago, long before the Yahoo-Microsoft merge fell apart) because Jerry Yang put his ego ahead of the shareholders.

The poor shareholders. Last time I checked, the stock market did not guarantee a return. Moreover, these stockholders are minority partners in the publicly traded company. Now while it is true that Yang is responsible to the stockholders and gets no special benefit for having co-founded the company, these stock holders could have sold the stock last week. At its highest point, a stockholder who bought the stock any time in 2008 would have made money selling last week. The one year high was last October, about 8-9% higher than its recent high and certainly not a value drop that should trigger a class action lawsuit.

Of course, the stock took a royal beating today. But rather than blaming Yang, Yahoo owners who really wanted to see Yahoo's corporate soul and culture gutted and disemboweled by Microsoft ought to take aim at Steve Ballmer. Steve has presided over one Microsoft disaster after another. Visionless, Ballmer showed unusual business acumen in concluding that the best way to rescue Microsoft's online presence- and online equals search, at least where profit is concerned- was to buy a company better at it than Microsoft. Since Google isn't for sale, Yahoo was the wise choice. But Ballmer could no more deliver this deal than he could a vibrant Vista. Ballmer blamed pirates, overaggressive analysts, and just about everyone not in the room when the big decisions were made about Vista.

Microsoft's problem is that they sent Ballmer personally to deal with Jeffrey Yang. Who am I, but I just can't see a man like Jeffrey Yang being swayed by a man like Steve Ballmer.

But the point here is that people like Gordon Crawford ought to just shut up and accept the fact that they are minority players in the Yahoo board room. If you don't like the profit margin, Gordon, dump the stock and take Capital Research Global Investors' money to some other soulless corporation that is willing to make deals with people like, well, like Steve Ballmer.

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