What was Team Yahoo’s (YHOO) reaction to Microsoft decision to walk away? According to the New York Times, the board and Jerry declared “victory” and exchanged “high fives.”
Perhaps rushing to contain the damage from this anecdote (“Hurray, our shareholders will get hosed!”), Jerry immediately published a blog post referring to a lot of “nonsense” in the press and saying that the past three months were nothing to celebrate (without, it should be noted, explicitly denying the high-fives anecdote). Regardless of the board’s exact reaction, Yahoo’s senior management may be the only ones in the Yahoo camp who greeted the Microsoft news with anything but disappointment and dismay.
Check out these quotes gathered by Kara Swisher, who spoke with a dozen senior Yahoos on Sunday:
“[The high-five was very telling, if it was true,” said one exec, who–like everyone–did not want to be named. “It shows a complete lack of connection to the balance of the company.”
“I am in shock.”
“I don’t know if we won or we lost. I think we lost.”
“I don’t love that it was Microsoft, but I think everyone thought $33 was a pretty good offer from a pretty good tech company.”
“Having to face my staff tomorrow will not be so much fun and I need some Prozac, since I don’t know what I can say to them about how our leadership is going to get our company going again.”
“Where’s the Jelly memo when you need it?”
“I can’t really talk to Jerry, since it is difficult to tell a founder tough things he probably needs to hear.”
And, “Do you think we need to do an intervention with Jerry and the board?”
Even Legg Mason’s Bill Miller, Yahoo’s second largest shareholder and biggest supporter, who stumped publicly for a higher bid, seems dismayed by the result. In an NYT interview, he half-heartedly tries to blame the broken deal on Microsoft—why didn’t they counter Yahoo’s $37?—but then makes clear that he’d have been on board at $34 (and, we suspect, at $33).
If Yahoo wants to quell the growing shareholder rebellion, the company could start by trotting out at least one independent shareholder who supports the board’s contention that Yahoo is worth even $37, let alone $40.
In the absence of this, one can only conclude that the Yahoo board really is living in an alternate universe.