As the saying goes: where there’s smoke there’s fire. Perhaps that axiom should have a time limit though. I mean, there can only be so much smoke before you have to wonder…is there one fire? Multiple fires? Any fire at all? Is that even smoke?!
The reason I bring this up: Microsoft buying Yahoo was in the news again. Still a rumor. How many times are we going to hear this?
"It’s just speculation at this point. But there were rumors this past weekend that Microsoft offered $80 billion for Yahoo. Yahoo was said to have rejected the bid as too low."
– Microsoft Watch, 1/3/2006
"Microsoft has been in talks with Yahoo! about potentially acquiring a major portion of the company, according to a report published Wednesday."
– CNNMoney.com, 5/3/2006
"Microsoft should buy Yahoo! to give its struggling MSN Web unit a much-needed boost, according to a report issued by Merrill Lynch analyst Justin Post."
– TheStreet.com, 6/23/2006
"Microsoft can afford Yahoo! and a combined MSN/Yahoo! would certainly be a stronger competitive player against Google, something that is clearly on Ballmer’s mind right now. That seems the most likely deal to me."
– Fred Wilson, 10/15/2006
"Should Microsoft buy Yahoo? UBS analysts Heather Bellini and Benjamin Schachter raise the question in a report issued this afternoon about the troubles in Microsoft’s online business."
– Barron’s, 3/1/2007
"While Microsoft and Yahoo! have held informal deal talks over the years, sources say the latest approach signals an urgency on Microsoft’s part that has up until now been lacking."
– New York Post, 5/4/2007
"Microsoft Corp.’s plan to buy AQuantive Inc. for $6 billion increases the likelihood that the software maker will also buy Yahoo! Inc."
– Bloomberg, 5/18/2007
"In a TV interview, Microsoft’s Chairman and CEO Steve Ballmer wouldn’t answer whether the company continues to mull buying Yahoo."
– PC World, 8/20/2007
"A Microsoft acquisition of Yahoo would be disastrous for Yahoo…But what such an acquisition would do to Yahoo is irrelevant. If Microsoft comes in with a Murdoch-like offer, Yahoo won’t be able to refuse."
– Henry Blodget, 11/16/2007
There’s certainly been other times that I haven’t listed above (a quick search reveals millions of results). The point is that we’ve heard this rumor many times, and nothing has come of it. Will the next time be any different? I’m thinking no, but who knows.
Acquisitions of this size take time. Maybe the strategy is to have it mentioned multiple times for a few years so that it is less shocking (and thus easier for everyone to swallow and for the Feds to approve) when it actually happens?
Or maybe it’s just such a fascinating combination that it’s hard not to speculate.