Submitted by Tyler Durden.
As reported yesterday, Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer appears set to be the new owner of the LA Clippers, or Clippys as they are now known, paying the record-shattering price for a basketball team of $2 billion. This is the second largest price ever paid for a US team, second only to the $2.1 billion paid for the Dodgers.
Considering that recently Forbes estimated the value of the Clippers at $575 million, Ballmer appears set to overpay massively, with a premium that matches any of the ridiculous social networking deals we have seen in months. But is this the first time that Ballmer, either as an individual or as a CEO, has overbid? Hell no. In fact, as the following list by WSJ's Paul Vigna shows, the only question when analyzing Ballmer's horrendous track record at estimating fair value of underperforming assets is "where does one begin"?
From the WSJ, here is a sampler of the most grotesque examples:
Let’s take a look at some of the more notable deals of the Ballmer era:
aQuantive. In August 2007, Microsoft acquired aQuantive, a online ad agency, for $6.3 billion cash, and 85% premium. At the time, it was Microsoft’s largest deal. “This deal takes our advertising business to a new level,” the company’s COO, Kevin Johnson, said at the time. How’d it work out? Microsoft took a $6.2 billion write-off on the business in 2012. “The acquisition did not accelerate growth to the degree anticipated,” the company said.
Skype. In May 2011, Microsoft acquired Skype for $8.5 billion in an unsolicited bid “even though there were no signs of other serious bidders,” as we wrote at the time. The price tag was three times what the company had gone for just 18 months prior, as the company was scrambling to catch up in the mobile and Internet markets. How’d it work out? Microsoft doesn’t break out Skype revenue, so it’s hard to know. But the service is popular, and they just unveiled a gee-whiz “Star Trek” like universal translator service.
Nokia. In September 2013, Microsoft acquired Nokia’s handset business, for $7.2 billion in cash. “It’s a bold step into the future – a win-win for employees, shareholders and consumers,” Mr. Ballmer said at the time. How’d it work out? You could argue, if you like, that it’s too soon to say; the deal closed only in April. But Microsoft controls less than 4% of the U.S. smartphone market. Moreover, whether it’s a win-win for employees, shareholders, and consumers, it was a definite loser for Mr. Ballmer: the Nokia deal was apparently the deal-breaker for him, and the internal fight over it led to his ouster.
Yahoo. Of all the deals Microsoft did do, it’s the one that it didn’t do that may be the most instructive. In February 2008, Microsoft offered $44.6 billion for Yahoo, a 62% premium to the company’s stock, in an attempt to merge two struggling search businesses. It was a huge deal in the high-tech world, and it was a huge, public, messy battle that Microsoft eventually lost in one way, and won in another. Yahoo ultimately rejected the deal, although angry shareholders would later boot founder Jerry Yang over it. Yahoo’s stock, which was in the $30 range when the deal was announced, would soon sink into the single digits, and would languish in the teens for years after.
Not exactly a sterling record, no pun intended, and we didn’t even mention Microsoft’s stock, which went from $58 when Mr. Ballmer took over in 2000 to $40 and change today.