Bill Gates must be thrilled the day is near when his every sound bite about Microsoft won't be subjected to something akin to biblical exegesis. (Starting in July, he goes to work full time for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Truth be told, we'll likely continue to put his comments about Microsoft under the magnifying glass. But he'll likely keep them to a minimum.)
So it was that on a visit to Japan, Gates cleared up a phony controversy over remarks he made a day earlier about Microsoft's future acquisition plans, sans Yahoo. "Now at this point Microsoft is focused on its independent strategy," Gates said during a news conference in Tokyo.
The AP's correspondent paraphrased Gates' comments to write up the story's opener:
TOKYO--Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said Wednesday the company isn't pursuing other deals following the withdrawal of its $47.5 billion takeover bid for Yahoo.
I wonder what it's like to have the media hang on every syllable out of your mouth. So it is that the blabosphere had some understandable fun with the apparent reversal that wasn't. In South Korea on Tuesday, Gates said Steve Ballmer would be entrusted with making "key decisions" after the collapse of the negotiations to buy Yahoo, adding the boilerplate kicker, "I wouldn't rule out some partnerships but we don't have anything imminent there."
Gates is a quote magnet for wire reporters under deadline to come up with a headline for the home office. Was Microsoft making its corporate development strategy up on the fly? Not really. I'd be stunned if Microsoft decided to swear off more acquisitions for any prolonged length of time. (By the way, Wednesday's Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft's bankers have made overtures to Facebook.) Might management decide to take another run at Yahoo sometime later this year? It depends how well Jerry Yang performs as a solo act. If Yahoo stumbles, it's in Microsoft's obvious interest to let Yang twist in the wind until pressure from outraged Yahoo shareholders forces him back to the negotiating table.
Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.