Kudos to Jerry Yang

I’m gonna buck the blogosphere trend of piling on to Jerry Yang for ditching the Microsoft deal. I think Yang deserves some credit for having the cojones to spurn Ballmer and Co. Sure it makes investors angry that they aren’t getting a quick 20% stock bump. And no doubt lots of those Yahoo managers complaining to the reporters behind then scenes are ticked because the options they had hoped to cash in on their way out the door aren’t worth an extra 10 bucks.

But in truth, everybody knew that a Microsoft takeover of Yahoo would be a complete disaster. First of all, most of these mega mergers fail miserably (does anyone use AOL anymore?). Second, whatever failings Yahoo has in understanding how to build their business on the internet, Microsoft is even worse. They really don’t get it. Investors love the notion of building ever-bigger corporate behemoths as a way to dominate a market. But everybody in the valley understands that this doesn’t work in technology. Google hasn’t come to dominate by buying up its competitors, it’s done so by building good products and rewarding good execution.

Jerry Yang is an engineer, not an MBA-type. I think he understands that selling to Microsoft would effectively kill Yahoo as a long-term player. So hats off to him, for being willing to buck Wallstreet, buck the board, buck the VP’s and suffer the lawsuits, in order to keep Yahoo alive. And I think everyone in Silicon Valley should be celebrating this guy for believing in more than short-term stock boosts to the stock price.

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