Micro Who? Everyone Seems To Be Getting In On This Act

As the online industry's favorite soap opera enters its 18th week, a myriad of new characters - and storylines - are emerging in Microsoft's battle for Yahoo. The latest chapter has activist investor Carl Icahn taking center stage, but equally colorful figures ranging from dot.com billionaire and Dallas Mavericks and HDNet owner Mark Cuban to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, may all have a seat at MicroWho's negotiating table.

Cuban, who ironically made his billions selling Broadcast.com to Yahoo for $5.9 billion in one of the dot.com booms more questionable valuations, is rumored to be among the candidates Icahn would seed the Yahoo board with if he were successful in ousting Jerry Yang from control of the beleaguered online portal.

Zuckerberg, the social network pioneer who became a billionaire on paper when Microsoft took a $240 million stake in Facebook in October 2007, giving the social network a then valuation of $15 billion, meanwhile, has emerged as potential white knight in yet another MicroHoo scenario.

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In Tokyo to launch a Japanese edition of Facebook, Zuckerberg was asked if Microsoft might also be seeking to boost its stake in Facebook to a controlling position. Zuckerberg demurred, sending bloggers speculating that talks are in fact underway and that Facebook might somehow play into Microsoft's strategy for thwarting Google's dominance of the online advertising industry. In this scenario, it would be a new conglomeration known as MicroHooBook, or something to that effect.

How Facebook, Yahoo, Icahn, Cuban, or other characters ultimately may unfold in the next chapter of this drama is anybody's guess. What is clear, is that some of the online advertising industry's biggest assets are in play, whether their current management teams want them to be or not.

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