Yahoo's Yang Rallies His Troops

The CEO commends staffers and vows the best is ahead after Microsoft ends its pursuit.

One day after Microsoft left its bid for Yahoo on the table, Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang praised his employees' spirit in the face of adversity and highlighted Yahoo's first-quarter achievements in a blog post May 4.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who for the last few months was confident he would strike a deal for the No. 2 search provider, quit his company's pursuit of Yahoo late May 3, citing in particular Yahoo's potential agreement with Google to run Google paid search links on its own search pages.

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Yang cited the acquisition of video ad platform Maven Networks, the launch of OneSearch 2.0 voice-activated mobile search, video on Flickr, a preview of the company's next-generation ad platform AMP and its SearchMonkey universal search platform as evidence the company is well-positioned for growth.

These developments "reinforced our board's position that Microsoft's offer undervalued our unique global franchise," Yang wrote.

He also wrote about what's next, using the familiar buzzwords he has become to be known for when discussing the future of Yahoo: "personal, relevant, open and social."

Yang is referring to the company's ambitious, far-reaching effort to break down the walls between the company's 500 million-plus users of Web mail, instant messaging and applications.

This YOS (Yahoo Open Strategy), announced by Yahoo Chief Technology Officer Ari Balogh at Web 2.0 April 24, is an effort to leverage the OpenSocial APIs to make Yahoo the definitive social network at a time when Facebook, MySpace and other platforms have successfully opened up their platforms to third-party development.

Yang said he is confident that this effort will serve "advertisers so well they insist on working with us, and opening up Yahoo in a way that developers dream of."

Yang also criticized the media and blogosphere, noting, "There's a lot of nonsense and misinformation in what's being reported," though he declined to say what was incorrect. He did say the board took the Microsoft deal seriously and that the company would have agreed to a deal only if Microsoft recognized Yahoo's value.

Yahoo was said to have asked for $37 per share, while Ballmer offered $33 per share in the final negotiations.

Yang, in an apparent allusion to the reports that said Yahoo executives were high-fiving each other after Microsoft walked away, as well as to references that the result was a personal victory for Yang, stressed that "no one is celebrating about the outcome of these past three months ... and no one should. We live and work in a competitive world, and the Web is only going to get more competitive."

But the media and blogosphere won't see this as any other way. That is, of course, unless Yahoo's stock takes a nosedive and shareholders begin alleging, which some already have, that Yang and Co. did not act in the best interest of shareholders.

"We know the spotlight will probably stay on us for a while," Yang wrote. "That's fine-we have a clear path ahead and momentum to build on. And thousands of dedicated Yahoos around the world who have held up well to scrutiny. It's now up to us to show what we Yahoos can really do."

Of that, there can be no doubt.

The other question is: What will Microsoft do to compete with Google in the search and online advertising market? Will it make another run for Yahoo, strike a deal with another search provider such as AOL, or try to grow organically?