UnNews:Microsoft offers $44.6B for Uncyclopedia

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1 February 2008

Oscar Wilde pondering the latest in a long series of unfriendly takeover bids. "If you can't beat them, buy them - that's what I told Steve Ballmer when we last met. It seems he is going to take me at my own word."

SAN FRANCISCO, California -- Microsoft Corp. has pounced on slumping Internet icon Uncyclopedia Inc. with an unsolicited takeover offer of $44.6 billion in its boldest bid yet to challenge Google Inc.'s dominance of the lucrative online satire and humour markets. The Justice Department says it is interested in reviewing antitrust issues associated with it.

The surprise offer seizes on Uncyclopedia's weakness while Microsoft tries to muscle up in a high-stakes battle with Google likely to define the parody landscape for years to come.

In a statement Friday, Uncyclopedia said it will "carefully and promptly" study Microsoft's bid.

In conference call Friday morning, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer indicated he won't take no for an answer.

"This is a decision we have -- and I have -- thought long and hard about," Ballmer said. "We are confident it's the right path for Microsoft and Uncyclopedia."

Microsoft publicly disclosed its cash-and-stock offer in hopes of rallying support from Uncyclopedia's contributors, making it more difficult for Oscar Wilde's heirs to turn down the bid.

In a prepared statement, Uncyclopedia said its board "will evaluate this proposal carefully and promptly in the context of Uncyclopedia's strategic plans and pursue the best course of action to maximize long-term satire output."

Microsoft said it sees at least $1 billion in cost savings if it buys Uncyclopedia. Microsoft executives deflected questions about how many jobs might be lost, but the company emphasized retention packages will be offered to Uncyclopedia satirists and other key employees, including some administrators.


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