"Jack Flack" at Portfolio.com is one of a small handful of bloggers who writes things that are interesting and intelligent about corporate PR. One of his trademark constructions is "Parsing XYZ," where he takes some statement or speech or press release full of corporate doublespeak and decodes it. I identify him so closely with that stuff that I even gave him credit the last time I used the word "Parsing!" But not so for the Wall Street Journal, which ran a column last weekend with a premise virtually identical [see update also, below] to an earlier Jack Flack column:
Parsing Ballmer-to-Yang: See You Again Real Soon, Buddy...
Ballmer: Dear Jerry:
Translation: I'm pinning this on you personally. Not your board. Not Bill Miller. You!
Ballmer: After over three months, we have reached the conclusion of the process regarding a possible combination of Microsoft and Yahoo!.
Translation: This is the letter you've been waiting for. Try not to quiver.
Ballmer: I first want to convey my personal thanks to you, your management team, and Yahoo!'s Board of Directors for your consideration of our proposal.
Translation: I want to do a monkey dance on your neck, but instead I'm going to demonstrate civility. I want to come off as the rational one in this thing.
Microsoft-Yahoo: Translating Ballmer's Letter...
And now the letter from Ballmer to Yang:
Thanks for nothing, Jerry:
After over three months, we have reached the conclusion of the process regarding a possible combination of Microsoft and Yahoo!.
We really hope the market really thinks we're walking. Because we want to be able to cut a new deal in a few months when your stock price is still getting killed.
I first want to convey my personal thanks to you, your management team, and Yahoo!'s Board of Directors for your consideration of our proposal....
Thanks for nothing.
Okay, they went up at close to the same time, so it's very possible the WSJ never even saw Jack Flack's piece before it put up its own. But the man has been "Parsing" the whole Microsoft-Yahoo thing in more than a dozen posts over three months. Give credit where credit is due!
[UPDATE: WSJ Deal Journal writer Dennis Berman emails to point out that he has done similar "Translating" posts before, such as this one from April 5, 2007. So it's likely he wasn't ripping off the idea from Portfolio.com. A fair point. I'm still in favor of giving Jack Flack the exclusive trademark on "Parsing." But we can say "Translating" will now belong to Deal Journal. Update your dictionaries accordingly.]