The headlines seem so quaint now: Microsoft makes a $44.6 billion play for Yahoo in yet another bid to catch up to Google. The $31-per-share offer represents a 61% premium over Yahoo's price at the time of the February overture.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
Microsoft's strategy makes some sense, but CEO Steve Ballmer fails to anticipate Yahoo chief Jerry Yang's intransigence, which ultimately scuttles any chance of a deal. Nor does Ballmer foresee the economic crisis that, by year end, is dragging down the tech sector. With Yahoo shares trading at $12 apiece, the company is now worth $17 billion. Ballmer, however, gets the last laugh: by year end, he's still calling the shots at Microsoft. At Yahoo, Yang isn't. -- By Adam Lashinsky, Fortune editor at large
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