Yahoo’s CEO Jerry Yang has scored a major victory against corporate raider Carl Icahn ahead of the crucial board election on August 1. Legg Mason’s Bill Miller, who owns a 4.4% stake in the internet company, has vowed his allegiance to Jerry Yang and the current board. Bill Miller’s support is being inferred as a fatal blow for Icahn’s Microsoft-backed proxy war as analysts don’t expect any institutional investors – that hold a stake in Yahoo – to back the boardroom coup.
The only glimmer of hope for Icahn is Gordon Crawford, who controls a substantial 6.5% stake. Gordon has hinted that he can align with Icahn but remains undecided. Yang wants to leave nothing to chance and wants to finalize a deal with AOL before the upcoming board elections, however, the chances of the deal going through ere Aug 1 remain slim.
And is there any wonder? Time Warner has been in talks with both Microsoft and Yahoo about selling off its AOL unit through out this year, but both companies have been much more interested in each other than the crumbled remains of AOL. Time Warner has showed a renewed interest in a deal and Microsoft and Yahoo continue to listen, but neither company appeared to be especially interested.
The NYTimes.com quotes Richard Greenfield, an analyst who covers Time Warner for Pali Capital, “I don’t see why anyone would make a move now with all the pieces on the chess board where they are,” he said. He adds that Time Warner was in a bad spot because the value of AOL was declining. (Doesn’t everyone want dialup?) Its main business is now selling graphical display ads and that is under pricing pressure. Greenfield also says its brand has a “toxic” connotation with consumers. The company does not even use the AOL name when it starts new web sites.
From its days as the evil empire of dialup companies, they earned the nickname ‘AOHell’. The company seemed to lack firm direction, buying various companies with no obvious connection to their business and often ruining them in the process. Perhaps the most famous of these is ICQ. The most popular IM program of the time was turned into bloatware, which quickly sank out of sight. Don’t even get me started on Netscape. AOL entered the portal ring way late and had already bled dialup users seeking the freedom of the internet compared to AOL’s own internal version of it. The company has been aimless and with its almost necrotic touch, is it any wonder consumers find the brand toxic?
As Microsoft and Yahoo do the tango, but fail to consummate anything, Google continues to erode their shares of the search engine market. According to Hitwise, Google’s share increased from 68.29 percent to 69.17 percent in June. Yahoo’s share dropped from 19.95 percent to 19.62 percent. Microsoft dropped from 5.89 percent to 5.46 percent. Their sampling is based on 10 million U.S. Internet users
Google it seems has little to worry about from the Dynamic Duo anytime soon.
It seems that Yahoo’s recent rejections of a Microsoft offer with a short deadline, has spurred on investor Carl Icahn to proceed with his attempt to replace Yahoo’s current board, including Chief Executive Jerry Yang.
In a note written to Yahoo shareholders Icahn said, "Our company is on a precipice and our board seems ready to take the risk of seeing it topple".
Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock and Chief Executive Jerry Yang wrote, "We are prepared to let you, our stockholders, not Microsoft and Carl Icahn, decide what is in your best interests and we look forward to the upcoming vote".
Recent gains that Yahoo stock had made on hopes that Ichan could broker a deal fell 4.2% on Monday’s trading.
It seems the showdown is on for the August 1st shareholders vote. You can catch more details here.
Will Yahoo be assimilated? Is resistance futile? Sound off, and tell us what you think!
Yahoo rejected the proposal in a press statement citing several grounds for the decision. It believes that the terms of the proposed search-operation buyout are unfavorable for the company’s stockholders. However, it has softened its earlier stance a bit and now appears to favor a full sellout at $33/share, as originally proposed by Microsoft but rejected by it. The fate of the reigning Yahoo Board of Directors, and consequently, the deal will now be decided on August 1 – board election Day.
In the world of online searches, there's Google and then there's everyone else. Take a peek inside Merriam-Webster and you'll find Google officially recognized as a verb. Of course, M-W hasn't exactly been stingy when it comes to including tech terms, but when you dominate the market with a 68 percent slice of the pie (and close to 90 percent depending on geographic location), perhaps you're entitled to alter the English language.
By comparison, Yahoo, the second most popular search engine behind Google, only accounts for about 20 percent of searches, according to Hitwise statistics. That leaves a considerable gap to close, and to help them do it, Yahoo has begun calling on start-ups to lend a hand. It's a scratch my back and I'll scratch yours approach, whereby Yahoo is willing to open its search technology and data centers, giving start ups with limited funds a way to develop a search service from the ground up. Yahoo will then sell ads on those search engines and share the revenue.
Yahoo execs are calling the new strategy Boss, or build your own search service. How it ultimately pans out remains to be seen, but in the meantime, Google is still the real boss of the internet. Can the search giant be toppled?
Of course, the respective owners of the images will have a right to refuse a request from Getty. Getty is going through a rough financial patch and this move is clearly a gambit to get out of it. Getty had very recently introduced a cheap web images package for only $49, a move that drew flak from photographers.
It appears as though that most of the images that Getty will buy from Flickr users would be used for its cheap web images package. All Flickr users will have to sign a contract with Getty images before they can be recompensed for their work. The payment will be based on size and use of the image. Getty will launch a new Flickr-branded image collection for selling images acquired from Flickr members.
Carl Icahn should feel at home in boardroom coups, after having fashioned a few of them. Along with experience, he has tenacity and a never-say-die attitude, which is rearing its head in the aftermath of Microsoft’s deal with Yahoo. While some people attribute the breakdown of (doomed-from-the-start?) talks between the two tech giants to company culture clash, Icahn is trying his best to agitate Yahoo stockholders into a revolt against the company’s board. Icahn’s fresh missive to Yahoo stockholders claims Microsoft is still interested in buying Yahoo’s search engine business or the entire company.
He reports to stockholders that Microsoft's CEO has personally conveyed his distaste for the current Yahoo board, and so, wouldn’t enter any negotiations with the incumbent board. Ballmer wasted no time in confirming Microsoft’s interest in “a major transaction with Yahoo, such as either a transaction to purchase the "Search" function with large financial guarantees or, in the alternative, purchasing the whole company." But he made it amply clear that negotiations would be resumed only after a new board of directors is elected.
Yahoo wants Microsoft to prove its seriousness and make an offer immediately, if it’s interested in a deal. The company warned in its response that it doesn’t believe a deal – with a new board in place - would be in the best interest of Yahoo stockholders.
The battle between Adobe's Flash format and Microsoft's competing Silverlight software to deliver rich internet applications (RIAs, not to be confused with the RIAA, an entirely different beast in every sense of the word) to your browser may come down to which technology search engines are better able to index. Adobe recently announced a new initiative with Google and Yahoo towards making the Flash file format (SWF) more easily visible to each site's respective spiders, leaving Microsoft noticeably missing from the group pow-wow.
But one company is taking notice of Microsoft. Find out who it is and what they want after the jump.
Yahoo has been holding Hack Days since December, 2005 and is steadily increasing the frequency of such events besides taking them to different countries. If last year London and Bangalore played host to the event, it will be Taiwan’s turn in September, 2008. Hack Day participants have to make web apps within 24 hrs using Yahoo’s own homegrown API. Hackers don’t walk away empty-handed as there are various prizes for them. A splendid way of scouring for talent!