February 13, 2008

Blackberry Outage, Ballmer's Outrage and Yahoo

A Blackberry outage causes the world to seemingly end; Woot offers up advice for the next outage.
My favorite quotes from these stories:
"Everyone's in crisis because they're all picking away at their BlackBerrys and nothing's happening," Garth Turner, a member of the Canadian Parliament, said during a caucus meeting. "It's almost like cutting the phone cables or a total collapse in telegraph lines a century ago. It just isolates people in a way that's quite phenomenal."

"I don't know what happened, I don't care what happened. They need to save their excuses for someone who cares."

Seriously, I use email a lot. I have 2 personal accounts, plus 1 for this site, and a corporate account. Email is indeed a lifeline. However, my mobile device doesn't have to be the only device I get it on; I do have a laptop (remember those, Blackberry users? Real computers?) and it's perfectly fine, almost preferable, to use that to get email. The outage lasted 3 hours. While I know this isn't the greatest thing, I'm not sure I see what all the fuss is about. That one quote from the Yahoo story still stands out:
"I don't know what happened, I don't care what happened. They need to save their excuses for someone who cares."

My response: Get a life. Be patient. It was only 3 hours. You had other means to get your email.

[Story Sidebar: While we're talking about Blackberries, here's a testimonial from someone who tried to give it up. ]

Other mobile phone news: at a worldwide phone conference in Barcelona, the first Google Android prototype phones debut. This should be interesting, as it's a new addition to the world of smartphones, the first for Google, but a direct competitor to Windows Mobile, Palm, and Blackberry.

Meanwhille, Microsoft just won't give up on it's quest to acquire Yahoo, and they've apparently got some Yahoo investors on their side? I guess the bottom line, and stock price, really are worth more to some investors than any loyalty to the company. One thing I don't understand, and I guess a business degree would help me out immeasurably in this case, is how can Microsoft's Ballmer be preparing to engage in a proxy fight and nominate directors to Yahoo's board? Apparently Ballmer's got until March 13 to do just that. Yahoo's story seems to clear this up a bit:

Microsoft, which called its bid "full and fair," could switch from wooing Yahoo's leaders to declaring war on them by making allies of shareholders in order to oust board members at annual elections mid-year.

Yahoo's 10 board members are up for re-election. The deadline for board member candidate nominations is in March.

So it seems that during the re-election of Yahoo's board members, Microsoft would woo potential members to seeing things their way, which means accepting a future buyout offer. This could include nomination of new people to Yahoo's board...people who have been hand picked by Ballmer himself. Outside of business we call this stacking the deck, so that the odds are all in your favor. I'd really hate to see Microsoft gain Yahoo this way.

One thing that is an interesting sticking point is that certain investors in Yahoo are also major investors in Microsoft. This presents a slight conflict of sorts, as they may or may not want Yahoo to sell, but if they do they certainly don't want Microsoft paying too much for it, so they're on both sides of the fence.

Allegedly, if Microsoft raises its bid to $35 or $36 per share, key people involved have said Yahoo will have no real choice but to sell.

"Yahoo! management has already exhausted the patience of its largest, longest-suffering shareholders," said RBC Capital Markets analyst Jordan Rohan.

The last line from the story in the NY Post summed it up pretty well:
If Microsoft raises its bid, even if it is only by $1 or $2, "The board may have to tell Yang that his emotions are getting the better of him and take the negotiations out of his hands."

I think we may be about to witness some nasty, yet historical negotiations.

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