Wake us when Microhoo is over


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Commenting on the latest development in the long-running corporate saga that has become known not so affectionately as Microhoo, financial blogger Paul Kedrosky wrote Tuesday night: ‘I can almost not bear to type these irritating words -- Microsoft is messing with Yahoo again.’

Can’t bear to write them? Some people can’t bear to read them.

The long dance between the two companies got another nudge with a long story on the front page of today’s Wall Street Journal. The WSJ says that Microsoft is continuing to talk with potential partners, including Time Warner and News Corp., about ways it might end up with Yahoo’s search business. The piece also goes into great detail about how we got to this point, with some funny stories about Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer and Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang meeting for golf with mutual friends in Montana and laughing as they discuss a potential deal on Yang’s plane. And then there was this gem:


On April 15, the two sides met in Oregon at the Portland offices of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis LLP, the former law firm of Microsoft founder Bill Gates’s father. With both companies concerned about leaks, Microsoft took pains to ensure that the meeting remained a secret. It instructed Mr. Yang and his coterie of advisers to drive to the back of the building, where a woman holding a closed red umbrella would be waiting for them at the loading dock.

Golf games? Giggles? And a woman with a red umbrella?

It all makes Mrinal Desai yawn. ‘I now actually say ‘MicroWho?’ ‘ said Desai, co-founder and vice president of sales and business development of CrossLoop, a venture-funded online marketplace for technical support services. ‘I am pretty tired of this drama back and forth, back and forth.’

Desai, who usually reads the Journal cover to cover with genuine gusto, questions the front-page treatment of a story without any real developments and seemingly without end.

‘This is more of a PR war between these two guys,’ Desai said. ‘They are just using mainstream media to talk to each other. That’s high-quality real estate. If they want to talk, they should get a room.’

Get a room? How about get a life, says Cathy Brooks, who leads business development at online video start-up Seesmic.

‘Micro-What?’ she said. ‘Yes, I pay attention a bit, mostly because I have some friends who work at Yahoo. But this story is kind of like an old CBS soap opera to me: Wake me when the characters change and the story line moves forward.’


So is the whole world suffering from Microhoo fatigue?

‘Alas, I am not,’ Plaxo marketing director John McCrea said in an e-mail. ‘I find it fascinating!’

-- Jessica Guynn