Icahn Proposes Safe Search Deal for Google-Yahoo

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2008-06-06 Print this article Print

So, I've stayed away from the new little back and forth between Yahoo and investor-cum-market-manipulator Carl Icahn. You know ... The one where Icahn whines about how Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang is turning Yahoo into high-tech's version of the Titanic.

I won't provide a blow-by-blow about what Icahn alleges in his latest screed, which you can read in the Wall Street Journal here, but because this is Google Watch and not Yahoo or Icahn Watch, I want to focus on his comments regarding Google.

Failing to get Yahoo to sell to Microsoft, Icahn said he will push for his new board, which he would love to install upon securing its placement at the shareholders' meeting Aug. 1, to do a search deal with Google "if it contains termination provisions that would in no way impede a subsequent acquisition by Microsoft."

Of course, Icahn doesn't explain how such a deal would work, which leaves us scratching our heads. Microsoft said one of its fears in acquiring Yahoo, indeed one of the main reasons it walked away from the Internet company, is the potential antitrust issues that could stem from a deal pairing No. 1 and No. 2 search providers Google and Yahoo.

How would termination provisions assuage Microsoft's fears about acquiring a company that lets Google sell ads on its search platform, essentially a search Trojan horse Microsoft would have to deal with?

Would that mean Microsoft has the right to quash the Google-Yahoo deal if Microsoft felt it impeded its opportunity to make inroads in the search advertising space?

If that's the case, Microsoft would certainly pull the plug on that deal because Microsoft will get nowhere fast letting Google and Yahoo help each other.

No, I don't think Google or Yahoo would agree to such provisions, so I argue Icahn is, as it suits him, suggesting untenable scenarios.

It's sad what this has come to. There are a lot of allegations and misdirection techniques flying between Yahoo and Icahn, mostly because Icahn is attempting to bully the company into some sort of deal. I don't think he'll stop until he forces Yahoo to bend to his will, one way or another.

It's unfortunate, but at this rate, Yahoo is approaching the edge of the abyss, a chasm into which it will finally fall if Icahn puts his slate of heroic board members in after the meeting Aug. 1.

Yes, shareholders: Icahn will get you your (and his) money from the deal, but at what cost? The destruction of an Internet service pioneer.

We've just recently said goodbye to seminal software maker BEA Systems thanks to Icahn, but unlike that largely bland enterprise software provider, Yahoo has many strong consumer supporters who would hate to see it monkeyed with.

Must we say a eulogy for Yahoo, too?

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