ahoo Inc employees fretted on Friday that their fun-loving culture, summed up by early company ads featuring a cowboy yodel, could get quashed by the comparatively stodgy software behemoth that wants to gobble it up.

On a crisp, sunny morning just hours after Microsoft Corp announced a $44.6 billion bid for the Internet company, "Yahoos" at its Silicon Valley campus milled about with coffee cups outside the low-rise buildings.

One engineer taking a cigarette break in the grassy plaza in Sunnyvale, California, said Microsoft's move raised difficult questions for Yahoos. The woman, who was in her late 30s, would not give her name due to corporate rules against unauthorized contacts with reporters.

"Everyone sees Microsoft as the big octopus from '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea' that wants to swallow everybody up," she said.

The Silicon Valley veteran said she had previously worked at Adobe Systems Inc, eBay Inc, Nortel and even Microsoft itself. "I really don't know," she said, when asked what it felt like to possibly work for Microsoft again.

Yahoo definitely sees itself as different from other companies. On its site for prospective employees it says, "We believe humor is essential to success. We applaud irreverence and don't take ourselves too seriously. We celebrate achievement. We yodel."