Okay, let the finger-pointing begin. Should Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer take the heat for the proposed Microsoft-Yahoo merger falling apart? After all, didn't he say that Microsoft wouldn't raise its $45.7 billion bid for Yahoo, then weeks later, say he'd raise the bid, from $31 per share to $33 per share? And shouldn't Ballmer have thought this deal through? Why Yahoo? After all, the search engine battle is over and Google is king. Why the need for Yahoo in the first place?
Or what about Yahoo chief Jerry Yang - the guy who dug his heels in at $37 per share and seemingly chased away what many analysts are calling a "fair" price for Yahoo. Now Yahoo's stock is in free fall and maybe it's long-term prospects along with it. Google isn't going away and Yahoo continues to lag it's rival in terms of market share, revenues, and any other benchmark you want to use.
So far, there seems like there's plenty of blame to go around. Tech Ticker, along with two prominent technology blogs - Valley Wag and Tech Crunch - are calling for Ballmer's job.
They say that Ballmer could redeem himself by resurrecting the deal. Or, maybe he was wise to walk away from a deal he didn't like (as they say on Wall Street, often the best deal you make is the one you never made). Microsoft's stock actually rose a few ticks, primarily because the Street though the company was in danger of overpaying for Yahoo.
Short-term, the deal is having a ripple effect not just on Yahoo's stock, which fell about 20% today in Monday trading, about $22 per share (although it did bump up to $24 by the end of the session), but also on the broader markets, which finished down about 90 points on Monday. Even so, $24 per share is a lot less than the $33 per share price locked in by Ballmer. Consequently, Yahoo shareholders are ticked off, particularly the bigger ones.
"I think at $24, the stock's overvalued as a standalone Yahoo," Mike Binger, a fund manager at Thrivent Financial, which owned both Yahoo and Microsoft shares. tells Reuters. "I think $33 was fairly generous for Yahoo and if Yahoo won't accept it, they (Microsoft) did the right thing in walking."
Binger's hardly alone. "We did like the idea of the Yahoo acquisition in the long run for Microsoft, but we did have reservations about how high a price they were willing to pay," adds Dan Davidowitz, a portfolio manager at Polen Capital Management, which owns Microsoft and Google shares. "I'm not necessarily certain that the Yahoo deal is completely off the table."
Ironically, the big winner, at this short hour, is Google, which saw its shares rise by two percent in Monday trading. But that's not even the half of it. Google comes out of the Microsoft-Yahoo debacle with an aura of invincibility around it. Mess around in Google's domain of online search and pay-per-click advertising, and you'll get burned.
Going forward, I'd expect to see a slew of shareholder lawsuits against Yahoo. The courtroom is the second to last place that Yang wants Yahoo to be. But it beats Redmond, Washington, evidently.