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Yahoo wants 'confidential' Microsoft negotiations

Future deals must be conducted in privacy

Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz has warned Microsoft's Steve Ballmer that future negotiations between the two companies must remain confidential.

Microsoft made a $44bn bid for Yahoo last year. The negotiations over the deal, which eventually fell through, were made public at the time.

Bartz said she made it clear to Ballmer that in any new negotiations, the process must be completely private. When and if negotiations yield any concrete agreements, then announcements will be made, she said, closing the door on any further comments about the topic.

Bartz also said it's a "no brainer" for Yahoo to consider acquiring "distressed" internet companies whose technologies it can incorporate into its portfolio, given its cash position, and that she instituted a "wall of shame" for underperforming Yahoo products.

End-users want a "wow experience" from Yahoo services, so that they feel compelled to check Yahoo throughout the day. "We want to be their home on the web," she said.

"We owe them a fun, easy experience, that is also non-frustrating," she said, criticising the company for having products that have been neglected and abandoned "floating like debris in space".

Bartz also expressed confidence that the re-organisation Yahoo unveiled last week will help improve employee morale, because employees in any organisation want clear direction and to know that they're working for a winning company. The re-organisation, which was designed to simplify the company's structure, will make Yahoo nimbler, especially in the ability to make decisions, she said.

After admitting that she uses Google Maps, Bartz said Yahoo Maps isn't as good as it should be because "we haven't paid any attention" to it. CFO Blake Jorgensen, who resigned last week but is still on board, added that an online mapping service is very expensive to maintain, and that he doesn't foresee Yahoo pouring significant additional investments into Yahoo Maps in the near future.

A different story is Yahoo Mail, which Bartz considers a core property. She recently ordered all ads to be removed from Yahoo Mail in countries where most users connect using low-bandwidth connections. She's open to removing or reducing ads from wherever it's determined that they detract or get in the way of the user experience, she said. This is something that Yahoo hasn't considered doing in years, Jorgensen said.

Bartz acknowledged Yahoo has to do a better job of opening up its services so that they will interface seamlessly with popular, non-Yahoo services, which is something that end-users increasingly expect. To this end, she said she's excited about a new redesign of the Yahoo home page still being tested, which offers more integration with third-party services, she said. "We need to let people do what they want to do every day," she said.

"Our home page is very old-fashioned," she added.

See also: Yahoo Mail users get new antispam protection


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