Well, it looks like the rumors were true. The day before Thanksgiving, Microsoft signed a non-disclosure agreement with Yahoo!, indicating that it was once again considering a bid to acquire the struggling online giant. While it's unclear what Microsoft wants at Yahoo! beyond perhaps full ownership of its search business, this move marks a major reversal for the company, which previously said it was happy that an earlier historic bid for Yahoo! was turned down.
Microsoft and two venture private equity firms have separately signed the non-disclosure agreement, which provides them with access to Yahoo!'s financial records. In October, various reports suggested that other interested parties refused to sign this NDA and have thus been excluded from any potential Yahoo! sale.
According to a report in The New York Times, Microsoft previously examined purchasing Yahoo! as part of a consortium back in October. That would have given Microsoft part ownership in Yahoo! and would have required billions in dollars of the software giant's cash for financing. It's unclear whether Microsoft is currently working on its own or in partnership with other firms.
Microsoft, of course, originally tried to purchase Yahoo! for a whopping $45 billion back in 2008. That attempt was later defeated by Yahoo!'s board. But given how overvalued the offer was at the time, and how much Yahoo!'s worth has nose-dived since then, one has to believe the company would like to have that decision over again. In early September, the company abruptly and unceremoniously fired CEO Carol Bartz and essentially revealed that it was open to selling all or part of the company.