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Breaking down Microhoo, moreCNET News.com's Dan Farber and Charlie Cooper discuss Jerry Yang, Yahoo, and the company's possible future partnership with Microsoft. They also explore Bill Gates' legacy at the company he co-founded.
[ Music ] ^M00:00:02 >> I'm Charlie Cooper. The Wall Street Journal concluded its annual D Conference this week and a luster of stars from the tech industry showed up including none other than our own Editor-in-Chief Dan Farber. Dan, among the folks who were on this play, Jerry Yang and Sue Decker respectively, numbers one and two at Yahoo. We've been talking about this perspective Microhoo combination since the end of January. Listening to what they were saying, do you get the sense that yeah, they are keen on finally doing the deal. >> Well, I think they are keen on doing any kind of deal at this point because, you know, this is a stressed company more from a perception point of view than I think than a true reality. And let me try to explain that or unpack that a little bit, which is that Microsoft is gonna buy Yahoo for 33 bucks a share and they walked away because as Sue Decker said during this interview, this isn't just about the money. >> They wanted more. >> And I think that based on what I heard from Jerry Yang especially that there was a lot of regret that Microsoft did walk away and I think that they probably made a bad decision in not taking that offer. >> Fairly or not, the reporting has blamed Yang for holding and for not really wanting to do a deal, founders regret. As you watched him deal with questions on stage, what was his body language suggesting? >> It wasn't so much as body language. It's just the way he was talking about, what is Yahoo, what is its business, and he went into this, kind of a lengthy statement about Yahoo's businesses to be the staring point for people in the Web and to take advantage of the fact that, you know, they've been around a long time that they're -- have 500 billion users. Now, it was kind of a Founders talk because he said I believe purple, okay great. Then Sue Decker starts talking and she says, well here's what's the deal is. We didn't think we were valued properly. We have 500 million users, 250 million email users, we have 10 billion social connections among all the people who use mail and Flickr and Delicious and all the other services that they have. She made a very clear statement about the value proposition that was in front of Microsoft and that they didn't think they were getting enough and neither do their board and I think it's not just the body language. It's the attitude and Jerry Yang is a founder and he doesn't have that business attitude like Steve Ballmer, for example who says things like, "We're just gonna keep coming and coming and coming." And, you know, as a result Yahoo gets beat up. >> Like it beat me -- it's my next question. Let me -- just bear with me. I did take a look at what Jerry had to say and to quote is, "I think of Yahoo as we have to be incredibly relevant and useful to users. You have to start your day at Yahoo. We want people to come to Yahoo first thing in the day." Etcetera, etcetera. "This is an incredibly powerful position, consistent with our roots and ripe for innovation." But that was in reaction to a question from Walt Mossberg to define Yahoo's business. It's not the most concise answer, let alone the most convincing elevated picture of her. >> No, I mean it's like the true answer, but it's not the kind of answer that really cast Yahoo in the proper light and that's why I said what Sue said. She said it's about the product. It's about this thing we're developing, this Yahoo open strategy that they're working on it. If they focus on that and they focus on display advertising, which is an area where they're really making some traction and developing new products, I think that the perception of Yahoo would be a lot different. >> Good stuff. You also had time to call Bill Gates who was there as well along with Steve Ballmer. Gates is taking his last tour before he perhaps fades into the sunset. >> Well, he's not -- I don't think he's fading into the sunset when I talk to him, there were a gaggle of reporters around him prior to the interview with Ballmer on the D6 stage. He was saying that he's gonna spend about 20% of his time doing Microsoft things and ... >> And the rest will be... >> That means he will be at Microsoft 2 to 3 days a month and he say he'd spend 2 to 3 times of that amount of time working on things, such as the office strategy and the natural interfaces and educational issues and there's some overlap between what he's doing with the foundation and what's going on at Microsoft and some things he'd fund himself, as well as with Microsoft and the foundation, such as mapping Africa. So, he will remain Chairman. He's not gonna be disengaged. He's been training his troupe for the last several years to take over for him and I think that the transition will go very smoothly. >> Great stuff. We've been speaking with News.com's Dan Farber. I'm Charlie Cooper. ^M00:04:41 [ Music ]