Microsoft-Yahoo: Trapped in Groundhog Day

So, Microsoft hasn’t given up on Yahoo after all? So it seems from a Journal story that just hit the wires, following on a melange of related possibilities raised by Boomtown’s Kara Swisher. It seems Microsoft is talking with News Corp. and Time Warner about a deal that might give the software giant Yahoo’s search operations and send the rest to one of the partners.

Maybe it’s true, maybe it will happen, maybe it won’t. Maybe something else will happen. Maybe nothing. I don’t know. Neither does the Journal:

Some of the people familiar with these talks say they are preliminary and unlikely to result in a deal with Yahoo. Indeed, two weeks ago, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer called Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock to suggest they meet to discuss a new idea involving other partners, according to a person familiar with the matter. The meeting, scheduled for Monday, was subsequently canceled by Microsoft, which Yahoo took as a sign that Mr. Ballmer’s efforts to find a partner have so far failed.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post says Justice will open an antitrust investigation into the Yahoo-Google search deal. I’m still doubtful Justice can or will quash it, given the limitations of the deal, but a probe sure could slow things down so much that the two companies might decide to bag it. Of course, it might also be moot if Microsoft manages to pull together its own deal after all. Indeed, Microsoft clearly was pushing for Justice to look at the Google deal.

I’ve thought all along that Microsoft would finally find a way to a deal for Yahoo, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened even after all of Ballmer’s protests to the contrary. But don’t ask me to predict when and how. I can safely say I haven’t seen this movie before, so I don’t know how it will end. Or maybe this really is some twisted version of Groundhog Day.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.