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11/6/2008
02:57 PM
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Web 2.0 Summit: Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang Open To Microsoft Sale

The co-founder also acknowledged Google's announcement that it would not pursue its advertising partnership with Yahoo.

At the Web 2.0 Summit on Wednesday, there were worries that Jerry Yang, CEO of Yahoo, wouldn't show up. Rumors were circulating that morning, subsequently denied by Yahoo, that Yang had been ousted.

Conference moderator John Battelle said he'd received several calls from journalists who wanted to know whether Yang would appear for his 4:50 p.m. on-stage interview. Similar questions were raised in the media room.

But Yang arrived, apparently undaunted. Given what his company has endured this year -- Microsoft's attempt to buy Yahoo, Google's attempt to partner with it, the loss of key personnel, and a radical infrastructure makeover -- the absence of battle scars and bandages seemed somehow wrong.

Yang made it clear he was still open to selling the company to Microsoft. "At the right price, we're willing to sell the company," he said.

But Microsoft, he said, is no longer interested. "They walked away from a public offer," he said. "We were ready to negotiate."

Battelle questioned whether Yang really wanted the deal to go through. Yang insisted he had. "We believe we were doing the right things every step of the way," he said.

Yang's depiction of Yahoo as a willing partner, jilted at the altar, is a role the company reprised this week with Google's announcement that it would not pursue its advertising partnership with Yahoo.

"Google clearly decided that they did not want to stay in the deal, and we were clearly disappointed with that," said Yang.

So where does that leave Yahoo? "We're rewiring Yahoo," said Yang. "We're creating Yahoo into a platform company. That was the dream I felt I could achieve as a CEO."

Yang conceded his company has a long way to go. But with the recent developer release of the Yahoo Open Strategy (Y!OS) for developers, it at least has marching orders.

Yang insisted that Yahoo wasn't just trying to emulate Facebook, to do "social for social's sake."

Yahoo, he said, wants to be the "consumer staring point" on the Internet. "That is what we're building the company around."

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