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Is Microhoo silence a sign of progress?

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When Microsoft and Yahoo were basically not speaking to one another, there was plenty of chatter and posturing from both sides.

Since that primping and posturing has largely died down (save Yahoo’s recent road show with investors), does that mean the two companies are finally getting down to business?

Now it could be that the two companies have nothing to say because each is waiting for the other. But even that would be something to talk about. What makes companies really quiet is when there is something, but things are still fragile. I’m not claiming inside info on this, just saying that the silence has been eerie, particularly since the two sides had a preliminary meeting two weeks ago and then Yahoo went on its “Why we’re worth more” road show.

There have been plenty of reporters and analysts arguing that Microsoft and Yahoo should just get on with it, the logic being that Yahoo doesn’t really have any better offers and Microsoft can afford an extra billion or two, if necessary, to get a deal done.

At the same time, there are some factors that have set the stage for this slow-motion stage fight. One is that Microsoft, while definitely interested in Yahoo, does not appear interested in bidding against itself.

Kara Swisher notes that raising one’s own bid may help win a charity auction, but it is not a very good strategy at a charity auction or when running a big business. And as those in the Microsoft camp point out, every dollar a share Microsoft were to add to its offer translates to well north of a billion dollars.

Yahoo, meanwhile, lifted the only pressing time limit when it delayed the deadline for nominating directors.

Here’s the rub though: Microsoft says it’s buying Yahoo to compete with Google. Every day that goes by is a day where Google is continuing to kick both company’s online rears and the two companies are left to pursue their separate strategies. It’s going to take time for a deal to get done even assuming they can come to terms, and then time once the deal gets done to get rid of all the overlap and get folks working on new projects.

The question is how much Microsoft values that time. The answer depends on just what kind of silence we are hearing.


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