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  • Writer's pictureJeff Matthews

Scenes from an Annual Meeting

First we go back in time, to May 3, 2008:

It is 3:30 p.m., Central Standard Time—1:30 p.m. Pacific Standard Time—and the giant exhibition hall in the Omaha Qwest Center is filled with dozens of Berkshire Hathaway companies selling their wares to thousands of Berkshire shareholders.

Nothing is free here—not the Ginzu knives or the Fruit of the Loom t-shirts with Warren and Charlie stenciled on them—except some Wrigley gum being given away to celebrate the recently-announced Berkshire-financed Wrigley buyout by Mars Company. (Thanks, Warren!)

Still, the place is packed—and not just with shareholders.

Suddenly there is a rustle of unusual activity, and Bill Gates goes by, surrounded by autograph-seekers and television cameras, smiling and looking like he has not a care in the world.

Now Sue Decker—the President of Yahoo—comes along. She is walking with her family and friends, heading over to the dirt-floored rodeo ring near the Justin Boots sales floor, where two huge long-horned steers are motionless as statues.

She is smiling, relaxed. In brief, she looks like Bill Gates, her fellow Berkshire board member, just did: on top of the world….

Sharp-eyed readers will note the time highlighted above. They will also recall what happened later that day, as reported in the Wall Street Journal:

In a subsequent telephone conversation with Mr. Ballmer, the Microsoft CEO told Mr. Yang that Microsoft was ending its pursuit of Yahoo. Mr. Ballmer sent his letter to Mr. Yang around 4 p.m. Pacific Time Saturday officially withdrawing Microsoft’s offer.

If Bill Gates and Sue Decker were involved in the minute-by-minute details of Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo—and Steve Ballmer’s subsequent withdrawal of that bid, announced an hour and a half after their paths more or less crossed in the Qwest exhibition hall—it didn’t show at the Berkshire meeting.

Still, anybody who expected Microsoft to randomly jack up its offer for Yahoo just for the sake of making a few vocal Yahoo shareholders happy clearly does not understand the profound impact Warren Buffett has had on Bill Gates.

And Warren Buffett never pays up for anything.

Jeff Matthews I Am Not Making This Up

© 2008 Not Making This Up LLC

The content contained in this blog represents the opinions of Mr. Matthews. Mr. Matthews also acts as an advisor and clients advised by Mr. Matthews may hold either long or short positions in securities of various companies discussed in the blog based upon Mr. Matthews’ recommendations. The commentary in this blog in no way constitutes a solicitation of business or investment advice. In fact, it should not be relied upon in making investment decisions, ever. It is intended solely for the entertainment of the reader, and the author.

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