Memo to Microsoft, Yahoo, Icahn: Shut up and deal

As Microsoft, Yahoo, and Carl Icahn bicker among themselves, Robert Cringely prefers a buyout by Google

If you thought the whole Microsoft-Yahoo-Icahn fandango was twisted and ugly before, well, it just got worse. Over the last three days these clowns have been eye-poking and face slapping like The Three Stooges -- sans the sophistication.

On Monday, Yahoo soundly rejected the latest scheme cooked up by Steve "the Mad" Ballmer and Carl "I think" Icahn, calling it "absurd and irresponsible":

...Carl Icahn and Microsoft presented us with a 'take it or leave it' proposal under which we would be required to restructure the Company, hand over to Microsoft Yahoo!'s valuable search business and to Carl Icahn the rest of the Company, giving us less than 24 hours to respond. It is ludicrous to think that our Board could accept such a proposal. While this type of erratic and unpredictable behavior is consistent with what we have come to expect from Microsoft, we will not be bludgeoned into a transaction that is not in the best interests of our stockholders."

Yahoo did, however, say it would accept an offer of US$33 per share to be swallowed whole and digested by Microsoft, or be open to some kind of deal involving only search.

Microsoft's response to Yahoo's response: Liar liar pants on fire.

Meanwhile, the ever excitable Carl Icahn fired off yet another letter to Yahoo shareholders - and this time he used lots of SCREAMING CAPITAL LETTERS, so they'd know he was serious.

The Yahoo! press release indicates that Yahoo!, in rejecting the current Microsoft proposal, stated that it would do a deal in which the entire company was sold to Microsoft for $33 per share. It is hard to understand why it turned down $33 and is now willing to accept it. It is the same obfuscation that is so prevalent in the rest of the press release. DON'T BE FOOLED....Our company is on a precipice and our Board seems ready to take the risk of seeing it topple -- ARE YOU, THE REAL OWNERS OF YAHOO!, WILLING TO TAKE THE SAME RISK?

Dear Carl: When your letters start to look and sound like a Nigerian 411 scam, maybe it's time to ease off the medication. And this whole "our company" and "our board" crapola. Where were you a year ago when Yahoo needed you? (Oh, that's right, making life Hell for Motorola.) Please spare us your sanctimonious concern for Yahoo shareholders.

I've always thought a merger of Yahoo and Microsoft might be good in the short term for Microsoft, because it's already choking on Google's dust, and for shareholders and speculators (like Icahn) who will cash out higher than they cashed in. But it would be a disaster in the long run for fans of Yahoo services and Netizens in general.

Microsoft is like King Midas in reverse; everything it touches turns to excrement. The Internet is not going to improve under MicroHoo. Microsoft isn't suddenly going to become competent. And Icahn will hit the road running once his shares have sold, looking for another publicly traded firm to harass.

But at this point I've really stopped caring. I just want it to be over. Maybe Google can buy the lot of them and put us all out of our misery. Or at the very least put gags on the mouths of Icahn, Ballmer, and Yang, so we can all enjoy the Internet in peace.

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Robert X. Cringely

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