Remember that time Yahoo turned down a $44.6 billion acquisition offer from Microsoft? Well, here we are eight years later and Microsoft has developed some very successful competitors to Yahoo’s own services, while Yahoo is looking to sell itself off for an amount that will undoubtedly be far less than what Microsoft offered back in 2008. That being said, Microsoft hasn’t completely lost interest in the company, and though it doesn’t have any interest in acquiring Yahoo, it might be willing to lend funds to whichever company does want to acquire it.
According to numerous sources, Microsoft execs have been meeting with private equity firms mulling over bids to buy Yahoo and telling investors the company might be willing to lend significant financing to their efforts. As most know, Yahoo has said it is for sale. Some question the company’s commitment to the process, given how glacial it has been, which many attribute to CEO Marissa Mayer’s antipathy toward it, favoring her own turnaround efforts instead. Today, activist shareholder Starboard Value said as much, mounting a long-expected proxy challenge to Yahoo and naming its own slate of directors to replace current ones. Starboard’s Jeff Smith noted that the new board was needed to bring “credibility to a process that has been publicly criticized repeatedly for being too slow, fraught with conflicts of interest and very difficult for highly qualified and motivated strategic and financial buyers to access much-needed diligence information.” Every single possible buyer I have spoken to this week agreed in spades, with many calling the Yahoo sale effort a farce. The current Yahoo board has said it is not, but the credibility of the current Yahoo board is — let’s be honest — under some much-deserved scrutiny.