Microsoft Exec Sells Yahoo Bid to Employees

Platform President Kevin Johnson pumps up the potential of an acquisition of Yahoo to his troops.

In a rally-the-troops e-mail, a senior Microsoft executive explained the benefits of acquiring Yahoo and swatted aside concerns about disparate corporate cultures and technologies.

However, Kevin Johnson, president of Microsoft's Platforms & Services Division, stopped short of saying what Microsoft's next step would be to buy Yahoo in an e-mail to employees Feb. 22.

Microsoft on Feb. 1 offered to buy Yahoo for $44.6 billion, an offer the Internet software specialist rejected Feb. 11 because it said the bid undervalues the company. Microsoft vowed to pursue Yahoo and the company is reportedly preparing for a proxy fight. But so far it has not publicly made any moves in that direction.

Johnson wrote that although the company does not have an agreement with Yahoo, we "look forward to a constructive dialogue with Yahoo's board, management, shareholders and employees" because the original $31 per share offer is "full and fair."

Johnson said Microsoft would become a more powerful competitor to Google in search and online advertising, Johnson argued, noting that the online ad market could be worth $80 billion by 2010.

Johnson claimed top executives of major media companies have told him there needs to be more competition in search and online advertising to stimulate innovation. A combination of Microsoft and Yahoo would give the company a better leg to stand on in search, video, mobile, commerce and social media, he wrote.

In an appeal aimed as much at Yahoo employees as Microsoft staffers, Johnson wrote "people are the single most important asset in this combination" and that "we will dedicate significant rewards and compensation to Yahoo and Microsoft employees." He allows that overlap is expected in any combination of this magnitude.

The executive also moved to dispel questions about the company's having different cultures, noting that both companies share a passion for great engineering, creativity, and development of services and technologies.

He also called it "premature" to speculate how Microsoft would brand combined offerings, and did not say whether or not the company would jettison certain Yahoo assets that may overlap. For example, many analysts have wondered what Microsoft might do with Yahoo's Zimbra assets, which compete with Microsoft Office and SharePoint.