Jerry Yang Speaks: Mixed Feelings on Microsoft Pullout, Doesn't Rule Out Deal

I got a few minutes to talk with Jerry Yang today, so in the interests of passing along his so-far rare thoughts ASAP and provide Yahoo’s side at a time when Microsoft’s version of events has been the only one, I’m running a few key quotes in advance of what I hope will be a fuller transcript later. He also wrote a blog post earlier today.

The key takeaways:

For one, Yang sounds as surprised by Microsoft’s pulling the deal as Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer sounded, in his letter to Yang Saturday, about why Yahoo couldn’t meet Microsoft’s latest $33-a-share offer.

Yang also doesn’t rule out a possible deal with Microsoft on the right terms, not just the right price.

And he contends that because Microsoft’s original offer galvanized Yahoo into exploring new alternatives, it’s now arguably in better shape than it was three months ago.

Here are the key quotes from the conversation:

They ended the discussions. You’d have to ask them whether they’d mean it or don’t mean it. I have no idea. I’m only going to take away from what they sent me in a letter, which is: They’re done.
They really did not go into any of the terms I would regard as probably as important as price. For example, stock or cash, regulatory issues.
I have mixed feelings [about Microsoft pulling the deal].
The most inaccurate thing [Microsoft said] is to say that we didn’t want to do a deal. The fact is that we do feel we represent a lot more value to them than they’re willing to pay.
If Microsoft says, Hey, we’ll come back and meet your price, then we’ll obviously have to talk. There’s no lack of willingness for us to explore anything that maximizes shareholder value.
We have more alternatives than we had on Jan. 31. … And I feel we’re doing better than before in terms of executing.

(Disclosure: To do the interview, I had to agree to have the quotes in the 10-minute conversation approved by Yahoo, because the company sought to avoid Yang saying things that might help those who have filed shareholder lawsuits and no doubt more who will do so soon. Some quotes were not approved, though the gist of them was reflected in those I could use.)

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