If I had a nickel for every Yahoo rumor

Maybe we just can't imagine that Microhoo is dead and done, and that it's ready to stage a Lazarus-like revival.

What would we do with ourselves if the spigot of Yahoo rumors ran dry? Not to fear, boys and girls. Maybe we just can't imagine that "Microhoo" is dead and done and pray that it's ready to stage a Lazarus-like revival.

A late afternoon report in TechCrunch reports on a rumor that Yahoo's board of directors has given Chairman Roy Bostock the go-ahead to restart negotiations with Microsoft. If the report turns out to be true, kudos to Erick Schonfeld for the big scoop.

CEO Jerry Yang: I'm still the decider.

But let's take a minute to ask who benefits from the rumor-mongering? It's not coincidental that shares of Yahoo enjoyed a small rally Tuesday. Considering the absence of scruples in some quarters of Wall Street, nobody should be shocked to learn that some operator might try to goose Yahoo's stock price by planting a false rumor.

In fairness to Schonfeld, he acknowledges not being sure about this one. ("Whether or not Yahoo's board actually met today and authorized Bostock to restart negotiations is entirely speculation at this point, say our sources.") And the Monday apology tour by Yang & Co. with the major business news outlets was certainly a major factor in Yahoo's surprising share price jump.

How much should we read into Yahoo's decision to let Bostock issue the primary statement from the company? Not too much. We're talking form over substance where the company selects a single point of contact. Truth be told, however, I was struck by the wording of the Yahoo statement. So I called up David Larcker, who directs the Corporate Governance Research Program at Stanford, to get his take.

"It's hard for me to believe (the rumor)," Larcker said. "Part of this will be related to legal issues. The chairman of the board would normally be the spokesperson for this kind of thing. Obviously, the text would generally speaking be very much to the point and not say too much except the acknowledgment of what happened. The fact that it went out under (Bostock's) signature is what you'd expect. Obviously, Jerry Yang is still a player in this and a key shareholder. I don't think you want to read too much into all this."

The post also mentions that Yahoo board member Eric Hippeau failed to show for a panel in New York and was replaced by another venture capitalist from SoftBank. When Schonfeld asked what happened to Hippeau, "someone else at the conference who would have known" said he was in Sunnyvale, Calif., so maybe the board did meet today, after all.

Then again, maybe he had an ingrown toenail.

For a good take on the episode, check out this post by Kara Swisher on All Things Digital.

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About the author

Charles Cooper was an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet.

 

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