AllThingsD blogger Kara Swisher posted an amusing piece today lamenting “all the almost ridonkulous rumors about everyone and their mother being ‘imminently poised’ to make a bid for Yahoo.” Swisher’s correct that the media has been in speculative overdrive concerning Yahoo, fueled in part by Alibaba Group Chairman Jack Ma’s remark that he was interested in buying the struggling U.S. Internet company, which currently owns 39% of Alibaba.
Swisher notes that it’s too early to be pickingthe winning horse–or any horse really–in a Yahoo sweepstakes. Still,on behalf ofavid Yahoo deal-watchers confused by the white noise now emanating from the blogosphere, Alizila sifted through the junk andchose the three stories that at the moment are most likely to shed light, rather than FUD, on the topic.
There’s this sourced story from Reuters on the potential for a Microsoft bid. Next, answering some of theconjecture about how the U.S. government would probably freak out and block an Alibaba bid is this well-reasoned piece from Fortune magazine writer Bill Powell. Finally, it’s Swisher again in a blog post about how Ma is perplexed that a consumer-focused company like Yahoo might be barred from foreign ownership by restrictive U.S. rules surrounding overseas ownership of sensitive assets.
Ma’s puzzlement highlights a curious situation:China, a country that tightly controls the media, on paper forbids majority foreign ownership in Internet companies. Yet for years the Beijing government has been allowing foreign companies to take large stakes in the Chinese Internet through complicated legal work-arounds. Yahoo and Softbank together own a total of 69% of Alibaba Group, to cite just one really obvious example. Is anti-Chinese sentiment in the U.S. running so high that its free-enterprise-loving politicians would scuttle a deal that is basically the same as one that Beijing allowed just a few years ago?
Could be, but we won’t know for awhile. Better in the meantime to just enjoy a YouTube video clip of the classic “These go to 11” scene from This is Spinal Tap (click here). Orcheck outthe trailerfor the 1984 mockrockumentary.