When a corporate raider comes at you with guns blazing, what do you do?
Fire back and yell, Yahoo! At least that’s how I hope Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang and its Board will respond to the Carl Ichan siege.
Given it’s rejection of a Microsoft takeover, it’s likely that Yahoo will fire back against Ichan. But a more covert motivator exists: Although Yang and the Yahoo Board could’ve accepted Microft’s $33 per share deal and prospered with their newfound wealth, loyalty and commitment could be fuelling their independent stance.
Yahoo’s plight and its passionate defenders highlight something that is usually missing in the business world today: Loyalty to principles other than acquiring riches by stealth, and commitment to principles other than sustaining greed and elitism. Some companies appear uncommitted to staying alive by independent means; instead preferring to sell out for quick profit, under the guise of creating shareholder wealth.
Shareholders who are merely seeking ROI at any cost, contribute to the corporate greed frenzy. For them the short-term monetary gains are the only reality and purpose. Many know nothing about the companies they’ve invested in, like Mr. Ichan who doesn’t know how to use a computer and T. Boone Pickens who decided to invest in Yahoo just because his friend Mr. Ichan did.
It would be inconvenient for Ichan and his band of rich investors to conceive of a poorly performing company revamping itself without selling itself to the highest bidder. And although a scouring could lead to a comeback with innovative products and services, nowadays the only glimmer of passion is in predatory practices designed to make rich people richer; gone is the passion needed to maintain a company’s independence.
BCE Inc. signals such a loss of passion, as it happily begs to be carved up like a turkey for the Ichan-like Ontario Teachers Pension Plan led consortium. It seems that after the company’s 128 years of independent Canadian existence, its Board can think of nothing better to do with the Bell brand than to sell it to significant American interests and fatten their elite pockets without conscience.
Considering the BCE Board’s behaviour, it is refreshing to see that Yahoo’s Board seeks to compete on it’s own terms by putting up a fight against Microsoft and likely Icahn and his lemming friends.
Thwarthing Ichan’s infamous hit-and-run scheming would be an important sign of strength from a company that began 14 years ago thanks to it’s founders’ independent streak. Also, to follow through with their dream for Yahoo, it’s defenders must realize that Ichan’s goal is not to grow the company but to bleed it for his benefit, as he did with TWA in 1985.