A Busy Week in Takeover Land

It's a hard life in Redmond, what with all the people to crush, hostile takeovers to mastermind, and FUD to perpetuate. This week has been a busy one for everyone's favorite Evil-Empire-on-the-move, and we've got all the details of what's made the wire.

First up, of course, is the ever-present Yahoo assimilation — er, "buyout." With Yahoo's Board's rejection of the $41B deal, Microsoft has powered up and is flexing muscle, both inside and outside. First up was a good clean-out, ousting Steve Berkowitz, their online services head in favor of former aQuantive CEO Brian McAndrews, and mixing up other execs in the division. The Empire swears it wasn't about Yahoo, but axing your online chief and replacing him with an advertising expert just before a greenlighting the invasion of the second largest source of online advertising seems pretty self-explanatory to us.

On the PR front, the Big Gun himself was busy making the rounds, sitting down with CNET to talk about his evil plans for Yahoo. According to Big Bad Bill, it's all about engineering — MS wants to grab as many of Yahoo's engineers as it can and force them into the Microsoft mold. When asked if he thought the difference in culture between the two companies would be an issue — a question better phrased as "Will they mind being thrown in a fiery furnace?" — the best he could come up with was to call on beating Google as a unifying battle cry. Meanwhile, an MS Senior Veep was busy telling Adweek that Microsoft-Yahoo is the "logical alternative," and then filing the article with the SEC like some sort of hornswoggled holiday brochure.

While the suits were out doing the PR polka, HQ was brandishing its legal options, hiring noted corporate counsel Innisfree M&A Incorporated in advance of the expected shareholder fight. Yahoo's brass are doing likewise, amid rumors that the supposedly united Board of Directors is beginning to fracture, with independent directors busily retaining fiduciary-defense lawyers as the shareholder lawsuits close in.

And what about the rank-and-file at Yahoo? Yang & Co. are at least thinking of them — albeit, not without thinking of themselves — and have instituted a new severance program to protect employees who get the chop or have the good sense to run like hell in the event of a Microsoft breach. The program offers between four and twenty-four months worth of salary to any employee who is axed without cause or leaves with "good reason" within two years of a takeover — with Yang and a handful of other executives being on the twenty-four month end. It apparently didn't come soon enough, though, as Advanced Technology chief Bradley Horowitz took his leave last Tuesday to join Google, the same day Yahoo laid off 1,100 people. No, he wasn't given his papers — he said he thought it was a good chance to "slip out unnoticed." One less Yahooligan-cum-podperson come the invasion, we suppose.

That's all we can fit for now — oh yes, Big Evil has been up to much more — but that will have to wait for this afternoon. Until then Happy Hacking, and remember, in a world with Open Source, who needs psychotic megalomaniacal monopolists?

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