It’s a weird world we live in where the best analysis of the Microsoft-Yahoo! merger is written by a Forbes journalist pretending to write in the voice of Apple CEO Steve Jobs, but here you go:
The problem is [Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer] has no vision, and no imagination. He’s all left brain. Hence this Yahoo offer. All he can see is that Google keeps beating the snot out of Microsoft and after all these years his coders still can’t create a search engine that works as well as Google’s and no matter what Microsoft does they can’t catch up. He’s tired of banging his head against the wall, so finally he just says, To hell with it, let’s buy someone and see what happens. His board is just as tired and bereft of ideas so they say, Sure, whatever, go for it.
But here’s the really dark part of all this. He knows it won’t work. He has to know this. He’s not stupid. The cultures will never fit together. And the deal is too big. It’s not manageable. And it’s completely anathema to Microsoft. It’s totally out of character for them. It goes against everything the company has ever stood for. Ballmer knows this, and he’s doing it anyway. Because this is exactly what every old-guard CEO does when all else fails. I mean it’s right there in the official playbook that you get in business school. And ultimately, smart as he is, Ballmer is an old-school kind of guy. He’s not really a tech guy. He has a mindset that was formed in Detroit, where he grew up. He’s a Big Three automaker kind of guy. And this is a Big Three move. It’s Ford buying Jaguar and Land Rover and Volvo because they can’t think of anything else to do.