Steve Ballmer lays it on thick in a letter sent to Jerry Yang of Yahoo before going public with the offer:
âTogether we can unleash new levels of innovation, delivering enhanced user experiences, breakthroughs in search, and new advertising platform capabilities. We hope that you and your board share our enthusiasm.â?
This was no love letter. Mr. Ballmer was following a storied tradition on Wall Street: the bear hug letter. Before mounting a hostile bid and going in for the kill, suitors send a bear hug â named for a popular wrestling maneuver â to their targets.
One part Emily Post and two parts Machiavelli, these oh-so-cordial notes are sent by unwanted suitors in an attempt to broker a peaceful deal. But they always carry an implicit threat: Rebuff this advance and youâre in for a fight.
Of course, less than 24 hours after sending the letter to Yahoo, Microsoft made it public, just in case there was any confusion that it was a private correspondence among old friends. (At least Mr. Ballmer was kind enough to give Mr. Yang a courtesy call before going public with his $44.6 billion bid.)
Some bear hug letters are kept from public view and are sent in confidence, in hopes of bringing a company to the negotiating table. Those are known as teddy bear hugs. But others, like Mr. Ballmerâs, are written for public consumption. Those are known â less politely â as grizzly bear hugs.
Please get the nauseating image of the big sweaty ape of a man giving Jerry Yang an actual bear hug out of my head!