Time for a Microsoft-Yahoo-Icahn Time Out

Last Updated Jul 14, 2008 3:17 PM EDT

Young Britt WilliamsThe more headlines I read about the spat with Yahoo on one side and Microsoft and Carl Icahn on the other, the more the parent in me wants to call a time out and send everyone to their respective corners. At the beginning of the month, I titled a post, Yahoo to Microsoft: Oh Yeah? Well, So Can We!. I thought I was exaggerating, simply proving that truth will always be stranger than fiction -- or satirical license.

Microsoft made an offer for the search business that Yahoo rejected on Saturday in no uncertain terms:

Roy Bostock, Chairman of Yahoo! said, "This odd and opportunistic alliance of Microsoft and Carl Icahn has anything but the interests of Yahoo!'s stockholders in mind. Clearly, Microsoft, having failed to advance in search, is aligning with the short-term objectives of Mr. Icahn to coerce Yahoo! into selling its core strategic search assets on terms that are highly advantageous to Microsoft, but disadvantageous to Yahoo! stockholders. Yahoo's Board of Directors will not allow that to happen. Yahoo!'s Board remains open to any transaction that delivers full value to our stockholders - we just do not believe such a transaction should be dictated by Microsoft and a single short-term investor."
I think they were aiming for a resounding "bravo!" from the stockholders. Icahn, not to be outdone when it comes to statements, replied today in a letter to Yahoo shareholders:
Over the years I have attempted to make changes at many companies but I have yet to see a company distort, omit and twist events and facts in the manner that Yahoo! has done in their press release issued Saturday night, July 12th.
Enough is enough. This is clearly a case of personal interests on all sides, with no one really interested in the "little guy" Yahoo investors, who are probably so discouraged now that they're considering turning their stock certificates into origami hats to keep at least some of this rhetorical rain off their heads.

I've got a suggestion: Take it online. I hear tell that both Yahoo and Microsoft have lots of server capability. Set up a newsgroup, a wiki, dueling web sites, and lash out at each other to your hearts' content and anyone who is interested can stop by. That can leave the rest of us to more trivial undertakings, like trying to build strong businesses, deal with oil prices, and fit in a day or two of vacation this summer. Between this and the presidential election, we're getting enough hot air to trigger yet another level of global warming.

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    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.