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Santa's Gifts to Microsoft, Dell, and More


He knows who's been naughty.

As is the case with all good distribution services, there are strategically located regional centers to speed the flow of goods to the end customers. When it comes to Christmas presents, Santa is no exception to this rule and one of those locations is behind my garage. Each year at around this time, I tend to snoop and see what Santa's been thinking about.

When I looked in the sack this past weekend there were three plaques that all said the same thing -- Patience Is a Virtue -- but they were all addressed to different recipients.

The first was for Steve Ballmer at Microsoft (MSFT). It had a note attached saying that he got what he wanted (Yahoo's (YHOO) search) after holding firm for all that time. Then Santa wrote a bunch of "atta boys" on the card.

The next plaque went to Yahoo's shareholders. On that card, Santa noted that you kinda got what you wanted -- the sale of assets to Microsoft -- but not exactly in the form that you were hoping for. Better luck next time.

The last plaque was addressed to the shareholders of Time Warner (TWX). Santa congratulated them on the recent removal of the anchor (AOL (AOL)) from their neck. More importantly, he asked that you forward his previous gift -- the B.O.H.I.C.A. plaque -- to the Yahoo shareholders.

The biggest items in Santa's bag were three "Way-Back" machines. It doesn't sound like much but those things are so big they take up an enormous amount of space and are very difficult to transport.

Way-Back Number One was addressed to Michael Dell of Dell (DELL). I sat in it just to see where it was taking you and it goes back to the year 2000. When you're there, the Boss is singing "Glory Days." Hey, is that cool or what. Santa's obviously got a soft spot for you, guy.

At first I didn't understand Way-Back Number Two, but it's addressed to the honchos at Verizon Wireless (VZ). It keeps jumping between two events. First up are those incessantly monotonous 3G map commercials comparing your coverage with AT&T. (Just a personal note here: Give it a break already.) But when you push the jump button on the Way-Back's console, we're transported to your board room years ago with a bunch of guys dressed like the ghost of screw-ups past. You get to relive that phone call to Steve Jobs telling him you're not interested in that iPhone (AAPL) thing. I guess Santa is trying to insert some "lessons learned" into the season of good cheer.

The last Way-Back machine is for Eric Schmidt at Google (GOOG). I've heard the Google-plex has been widening all the doorways so Eric's head will fit through. Sounds like Santa's been hearing the same type of scuttlebutt. Santa set the dates on the Way-Back's console to April 1997 and March 2001, and the figure -48% keeps flashing on the screen. Apparently, those dates were start and end of Eric's tenure as CEO of Novell (NOVL) along with the stock performance under his command. Apparently, Santa was injecting a little humility into the equation by demonstrating that timing and luck are as important in success as anything. That might be worth remembering, Eric!

The last item at the bottom of Santa's bag is an 8-Ball. No, not the one on a pool table but the big plastic model that when you shake-up and turn over, it gives you a bunch of random, nonsensical answers to questions you ask. The tag says it's for Nokia's (NOK) next board meeting.

Santa can be such a card.
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