When things are going to take awhile, executives like to tell us that it's a marathon and not a sprint. Well, the Microhoo affair has moved beyond marathon. It's at least up to the status of multi-day cricket match.
That is to say, it has become this painful thing that we all wish would end so that we can report the final score. Ad Age says that we may well be able to hit publish on our long-ago-written deal stories sometime this week. I'm also hearing that a deal could still come this week. But I learned a long time ago not to hold my breath.
According to the Ad Age report, Microsoft reached for a glass of water after Yahoo demanded a large upfront payment (hundreds of millions of dollars) in addition to the long-term guarantees in exchange for handing search duties over to Redmond. But Ad Age reports that things got back on track late last week.
Things heated back up a couple weeks ago now and have been close but no cigar since then, according to sources all too familiar with the situation. That said, a deal could come any time now.
In essence, this boils down to the same thing every time. The two companies have to decide how to compete with Google on search. They can either go it alone or tie their fates together. Each is the other's only real move to gain scale in a business that is all about scale.
Microsoft has made it abundantly clear all along that it would prefer to add Yahoo's market share to its effort, which makes sense, since Yahoo holds on the order of twice Microsoft's market share, which tends to be around 10 percent of the search market.
It may sound like trivializing to suggest this is like a giant teenage romance, but really these things are as much about the people involved as the finances.
Yahoo has played hard to get, while at the same time trying to figure out how to be more popular. But Yahoo now seems to be happy enough with its outfit and willing to be seen in public with Microsoft, provided it is willing to spend enough to make the date worthwhile.
Now we just have to wait to see whether they pick an early breakfast or a matinee for the date and which day they pick--assuming Yahoo doesn't get cold feet again.