Content|September 9, 2011| Author: Steven Hodson|Tags: , , , ,

The Aol – Yahoo merger rumor, or how two really inept executives dance the two-step to oblivion

You want what has to be the biggest laugh of the week?

Apparently there is a rumor floating around the tech blogosphere that talks are underway that one inept company, aka Aol, is going to acquire another inept company, aka Yahoo.

I’m not kidding, really I’m not; but right now my ribs are aching from laughing so much.

Of course no sooner had the news hit the web than Yahoo trotted out mergers and acquisitions tactic 101 that reads something like – we’re not interested in any kind of talks at this time *wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge*. To which the typical nameless sources were trotted out in the leading <gag> business tech blogs </gag> saying that of course the talks were going on.

Here’s the thing – no-one cares; and why should we care about two companies that apparently are willing to knife fellow executives in the back as they scramble to make us all believe that they are still relevant.

As much as people were concentrated around Michael Arrington in the recent debacle that saw him finally being shown the door, what many appeared to miss was that the whole CrunchFund deal that Arrington had convinced Aol to invest in was done without one very important person being informed of the deal – Arianna Huffington; otherwise known as the head of Aol’s hopes and aspirations in the content business.

Needless to say Arianna was a little pissed at the whole deal and believed that it crossed a boundary that shouldn’t even have been walked up to. That boundary of course is that “journalists should not invest in companies that they might at some point write about”; and as much as some might find her defending this position rather humorous she felt that Arrington’s CrunchFund not only crossed that boundary, it demolished it.

Now we all know what has happened in the intervening days but the thing that gets me is that Tim Armstrong, the CEO of Aol and the person who made the TechCrunch acquisition happen in the first place, as well as being an enthusiastic backer of the whole CrunchFund idea, had left an integral person at Aol out of the loop. So either he did this because he knew what Arianna’s position would be and didn’t have the stomach for that boardroom fight, or he’s an idiot.

Then on the other side of this humorous tale of acquisition idiocy we have the Chairman of the Board of Yahoo, Roy Bostock whose only real claim to fame in recent times is firing of Carol Bartz over the phone from a prepared speech written by just as gutless corporate lawyers. Talk about no balls, he didn’t even have the decency to fire her face-to-face, or to treat her as any kind of equal, instead, hid behind a bunch of legalese (sexist anyone – would a man in Bartz’s position have been treated the same way?).

It is no wonder that between a ball-less chairman and a board of directors that seem more interested in a stagnant pool of do-nothingness that Yahoo has become a joke in the new media world. Sure it might be being propped up by its past glories and things like Yahoo Mail, but in a new media world this isn’t the greatest hand to be trying to be bringing to the poker table, especially when your chairman is a spineless putz who couldn’t bluff their way out of an inside straight.

Yet these are two of the people who will possibly be responsible for any merger of the two companies should this prove to once again be something more than a fanciful rumor. In either case neither of them are coming from any position of power, as Aol has seen its shares slide downward on the stock market as well as smirks of derision from the world of new media; and then there is Yahoo, a company that seems better suited to constantly shooting itself in the foot instead of becoming a part of a new media powerhouse.

But of course none of all this matters because the two companies on this dance card aren’t talking with each other, right?