Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer may need an intervention before this obsession with Yahoo--which is really about an obsession over Google--spins out of control.
We're about to hit a second milepost in what is a frenetic week for the Microhoo saga and Yahoo employees aren't hip to merging with Microsoft. Meanwhile, Microsoft employees aren't so hip to buying Yahoo either.
So who is really jazzed for this deal? Ballmer. Yahoo's earnings report was as expected and the company still doesn't want to merge with the software giant at $31 a share. Microsoft later today delivers its earnings report and will likely talk a little more smack about how it doesn't really need Yahoo (sure it doesn't). On Saturday, Microsoft's proxy-war-or-else deadline expires.
All of this mumbo jumbo raises one question in my mind: Does Bill Gates or other Microsoft employees need to pull Ballmer aside before he actually buys Yahoo? Perhaps Steve needs Yahoo (and Google) counseling? Picture this: Ballmer on the couch. Psychiatrist says: "It's ok Steve, online advertising isn't the only business model out there. Relax. Breathe. Count your billions from Office and Windows. Ok, now close your eyes. What do you see? Eric Schmidt and Jerry Yang hugging? Oh. Let me write you a prescription."
Think about it--Microsoft is about to hit the point of no return. If Microsoft goes to Yahoo shareholders it will seal the deal. Then Microsoft will have about a year of regulatory hurdles--good luck with the EU guys--integration concerns, some stock dilution and shareholders who are annoyed because the software giant is integrating Yahoo during one of its best financial runs.
Why all this trouble? Ballmer is obsessed with Yahoo because he's obsessed about Google. He's obsessed about Yahoo because the company doesn't want him. He's obsessed about Google because Microsoft can't pull off the catch-up game in search. But as a result, he's risking the real gravy train. Can Microsoft do everything--consumer gadgets, enterprise software, consumer software and online advertising? Maybe, but few can pull it off.
Will Ballmer suddenly get the memo before it's too late? Probably not. Where's a good intervention when you need one?