Something doesn't smell quite right here.
Techcrunch reports earlier today that Jonathan Miller, former AOL chief executive and one of the names that popped up as part of Team Icahn on the newly expanded Yahoo board, has been blocked from serving on that board by a non-compete clause in his contract with Time Warner. Then, Silicon Valley Insider reports that Time Warner - which spoke "on-the-record" with the blog - never gave Miller the OK to serve on Yahoo's board and that Miller's contract prevents him from working "for a variety of competitors, including Yahoo, until of March of 2009."
Would Time Warner's spokesman really go on-the-record to say that Miller was never given the OK, even though that news has been out there for well over a week now, if it weren't true? If it is true, Time Warner should have thrown that flag a long time ago - maybe not when Miller's name first surfaced but certainly when his name was included in a press release that was also filed with the SEC. Instead, this news surfaces on the eve of Yahoo's much-anticipated shareholder's meeting.
At the same time, these news reports on the blogosphere point to unnamed sources that are saying that Miller was initially given the OK by Time Warner. That whole unnamed sources thing could be on shaky ground except that the bloggers have been careful to note that multiple sources, not just one, are telling them the same story. And the veteran journalist in me knows that some of the most factual information you'll ever get comes from unnamed sources.
Here's what gets me. The non-compete clause in Miller's contract with Time Warner is a pretty big thing. It's not like Miller can say, "Oh yeah. I forgot about that." After all, the unnamed sources are saying that Miller went to Time Warner for its blessing. Did Time Warner just have a change of heart? There could be a number of political/business reasons for refusing to let Miller serve on Yahoo's board but how much of that makes sense seeing how Time Warner has long wanted to sell AOL and Microsoft and Yahoo are two of the names that continue to surface as potential buyers.
My final thought: Aren't all of these companies supposed to be professional businesses, run by adults? It strikes me that we've got a lot of kid-like schoolyard antics going on here with one guy trying to sucker punch the next guy before he gets sucker-punched himself. Case in point: Microsoft's statement about comments made at Yahoo's shareholder's meeting. The email from Microsoft's PR team confirmed the "statement," which is actually the single sentence jab: “Yahoo! is attempting to rewrite history yet again with statements that are not supported by the facts.”
I'm told that I should just attribute the statement to a "Microsoft spokesperson."