In the past few days alone, Internet-age dinosaur Yahoo fired its potty-mouthed chief executive Carol Bartz and entered into possible merger talks with fellow Internet has-been AOL, whose business plan — the Huffington Post meets dial-up (that still exists?) — is just waiting to be turned into a stand-up act. Soon after Bartz was fired, speculations were that it had something to do with her long-running and well-known problems with Jack Ma, the chairman of Chinese search giant Alibaba Group, which is 40 percent owned by Yahoo Inc. For a while, it seems, Ma has wanted to buy back Yahoo's stake in the company, something Bartz resisted. In July, both companies settled out of court over Alibaba's spinoff of its e-payment business to a Ma-owned company.
Seeking to quell the rumors, Ma today told the 2011 AliFest gathering of entrepreneurs: "Over the past couple of days, the Yahoo CEO got fired, but it had nothing to do with me." But with Yahoo looking to offload many of its Asian assets as part of its post-Bartz strategy, Ma may finally get what he's wished for. After all, who wants to hitch their 28-percent-profit-growth e-rocket to a company whose search revenues actually fell by almost 50 percent last year?