Monday, April 07, 2008

Dear Steve Letter

Today, in "Microsoft Presses Yahoo to Take $44 Billion Deal," National Public Radio compared the rancorous communications between the two software companies to e-mails send without reflection by an enraged computer user. Apparently Microsoft is preparing for the possibility that what was planned as a friendly merger might become a hostile takeover, because the Redmond, Washington corporate giant thinks the number two search engine, which is now a far second to Google, is overvaluing the company unreasonably. In retaliation, Yahoo has posted "Yahoo's Board of Directors Responds to Latest Microsoft Letter" to its website, which is literally a "Dear Steve" letter rejecting the Microsoft's bid in language that bears little resemblance to corporate discourse. At one point, the letter gets quite personal with its recipient: "Moreover, Steve, you personally attended two of these meetings and could have advanced discussions in any way you saw fit."

Of course, as a rhetorician, I'm also interested in the generic disclaimer that is appended to the Yahoo message. This disclaimer about "Forward-Looking Statements" is particularly rhetorically rich, much like the rapid-fire caveats that follow televised pharmaceutical ads:

This press release contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties concerning Yahoo!'s projected financial performance as well as Yahoo!'s strategic and operational plans. Actual results may differ materially from the results projected. The potential risks and uncertainties include, among others, the implementation and results of the Company's ongoing strategic initiatives; the Company's ability to compete with new or existing competitors; reduction in spending by, or loss of, marketing services customers; the demand by customers for the Company's premium services; acceptance by users of new products and services; risks related to joint ventures and the integration of acquisitions; risks related to the Company's international operations; failure to manage growth and diversification; adverse results in litigation, including intellectual property infringement claims; the Company's ability to protect its intellectual property and the value of its brands; dependence on senior management and other key personnel; dependence on third parties for technology, services, content and distribution; general economic conditions and changes in economic conditions; and risks and uncertainties arising in connection with Microsoft's unsolicited proposal to acquire the Company, including the loss of key employees who pursue other employment opportunities due to concerns as to their employment security, increased difficulty for the Company in executing its strategic plan and pursuing other strategic opportunities, and the possibility of significant costs of defense, indemnification and liability resulting from stockholder litigation. More information about potential factors that could affect the Company's business and financial results is included under the captions "Risk Factors" and "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" in the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2007, which is on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and available at the SEC's website at All information in this press release is as of April 7, 2008, unless otherwise noted, and Yahoo! does not intend, and undertakes no duty, to update or otherwise revise the information contained in this press release.

Yahoo's blog, in constrast, says little -- even implicitly -- about the struggle between the two technology companies.

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