In the wake of the Microsoft-Yahoo merger collapse, there has been a lot of commentary about how Steve Ballmer’s job as CEO of Microbeast is in danger because the deal didn’t go through. Erick Schonfeld has a post up at TechCrunch that quotes an anonymous source at the software behemoth as saying Ballmer is uneasy — hint: he’s yelling even more now! — and the board is considering pitching him overboard. I’m going to side with my friend Kara Swisher on this one; I think much of that is probably wishful thinking by Microsoft insiders. I don’t think Ballmer is going anywhere — or at least not because of this.
So why did I say that Jerry Yang should be fired? Completely different story, IMO. Microsoft made a gamble that it could bag Yahoo, and that there would be enough synergies to justify the deal (adding Yahoo’s media properties, the ad-keyword business, etc.). You can debate whether that’s true or not, but in my opinion it was a fair bet to make. And when it looked like it was going to get too expensive or go needlessly hostile, Ballmer walked. No harm, no foul. Not to mention, of course, that this still isn’t over yet. The fat lady is just warming up.
Yang, on the other hand — either on his own, or aided and abetted by the Yahoo board — waffled and whiffed and came up with lame proposals for boosting the company’s value, and never produced anything that justified either a much higher share value or a dismissal of the Microsoft deal in favour of something better. There is nothing better, and Yang knows it — and most Yahoo shareholders likely know it too. That’s why he deserves to leave, and Ballmer deserves to stay.