Last night, Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz announced in a company-wide e-mail that she had been fired by the chairman of the board of directors, which was quickly followed by rumours that Yahoo! would be willing to sell the company if the fit (and price) was right.
Now, Yahoo! has a longstanding history in mobile; once upon a time, they were quite cozy with both AT&T and T-Mobile, and even now, they’re still active with Japanese service provider SoftBank. Yahoo! has also pushed some pretty compelling apps, like Livestand, IntoNow, and Sketch-a-Search. Even on the developer side, Yahoo! has this cool service called Fire Eagle that shares location data across multiple apps (mobile or otherwise) that use the same API.
The obvious choice for an acquirer is Microsoft – Microsoft already tried purchasing Yahoo! back in 2008 for $44.6 billion, and they still have a partnership in place so Bing powers Yahoo! search. Windows Live services could easily absorb various Yahoo! counterparts. So, there’s already plenty of history between those two giants, but maybe Google would be interested in swooping in, if only to maintain the significant lead they still enjoy over Microsoft’s web efforts. A move from Google is a bit less likely, since they’ve actually been busy shutting down projects rather than starting new ones.
Are there any mobile manufacturers that might want to get deeper into the web services game? Nokia switched over the bulk of their Ovi services to Yahoo! last spring, but since then, they switched again to Microsoft. Samsung is big enough to afford the acquisition, and has already shown an eagerness to operate independent of Google and Android through their continuing efforts with Bada. Google’s acquisition of Motorola may further alienate Android manufacturing partners, but HTC and LG haven’t shown any indications of straying from Google like Samsung has. RIM? Probably couldn’t afford it. Apple? They’d sooner make their own service from the ground up.
And what about outside the mobile world? HP took a gamble on Palm, which ultimately didn’t pay off, but maybe a bit mobile player like Dell could see value in Yahoo! not only for what the company could do for their PC business, but also kick-start their smartphone business. What do you guys think? Are there any big players in wireless that are likely to make a bid for Yahoo! ?