Will Microsoft make a return bid for Yahoo?

Microsoft says that it has moved on, but its failure to make any progress in search makes News.com's Ina Fried wonder whether it can really afford to walk away.

Carl Icahn's move to grab seats on Yahoo's board may eventually make that company more open to a merger, but the question is whether Microsoft is even still interested.

The company's words say no , but its search share says yes.

Search share

Microsoft has been trying to grow its search market share organically for a couple of years now and the numbers suggest it has spent a lot of money without making any headway against Google or even Yahoo.

Officially, the company declines to comment on Icahn's move, while continuing to send out the signal that it has moved on. OK, but it's not like the company has really taken any irreversible actions since dropping its bid earlier this month.

While Microsoft may well have talked to Facebook and AOL, its billions remain in the bank.

There is one factor I think complicates the matter, and I am not sure how much Icahn or anyone else can change this. Microsoft would be buying Yahoo for two main things: its people and its market share, particularly in search.

Both those assets could be fleeting unless Microsoft can smoothly integrate Yahoo. And here is where I think most of Microsoft's willingness to move on stems from. I think Steve Ballmer became convinced that Yahoo was going to make the integration tough, if not impossible.

For Icahn to really succeed, he will have to not only win over shareholders, but also get Yahoo's upper echelons to really support the deal. And that may be tougher than a proxy battle.

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About the author

    During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried has changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley. These days, most of her attention is focused on Microsoft. E-mail Ina.

     

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