Not a word from Yahoo for months, and lots of interesting snippets come along at once.
• First: The mood at Yahoo is still pretty bleak despite Carol Bartz’ much-reported turnaround plan, which seems to have underwhelmed investors. TechCrunch describes this as a “360-degree turnaround” plan, which rather beautifully describes a lot of activity but no real progress. Anticipating this week’s shareholder meeting, several executive changes are either anticipated or hoped for.
Chairman Roy Bostock might face a challenge, and Prabhakar Raghavan, who we profiled in April, has been the subject of concern in his new role of chief strategy officer because of his lack of business experience.
But there are also rumours that even chief executive Carol Bartz herself could be shunted out, with Fox Digital’s Jon Miller, board member David Kenny, Softback chief Masayoshi Son or Alibaba founder Jack Ma mooted as replacements.
Replacing Bartz might comfort some agitated shareholders in the long run, but would yet another new turnaround scheme and some more new faces really help the company? For now, shareholders are more likely to “send a signal” by replacing Bostock, perhaps.
• Second: The LA Times reported that Yahoo recently made an unsolicited offer for Hulu, the online TV service whose future had been in some doubt. Co-owners Disney, News Corporation and Comcast launched the new paid subscription service Hulu Plus late last year in an effort to boost revenues from the site, but reportedly abandoned plans to go public because they couldn’t secure long-term content deals. Chief executive Jason Kilar blogged two months ago that Hulu will generate $500m in revenue this year from 1 million subscribers and will have earned $300m for content producers.
TechCrunch cites a source who says Yahoo never had “meaningful conversations”, but whether it was Yahoo or another interested party, one source said that Hulu had been prompted to look at the possibilities for a sale and has recruited Morgan Stanley to negotiate.
Given Ross Levinsohn’s comments this week about Yahoo’s “priority” of becoming more like a media company, Hulu would be a sensible fit. The head of media, advertising sales and partnerships told the FT that previous chief executive Terry Semel was right to focus Yahoo on media content, but was just too early. Now with demand and growth in video advertising, it makes sense – if it isn’t too late to turn Yahoo round.
And a deal with Hulu might mean we get something call Huluyahoo, which is quite possibly Hawaiian for “last ditch effort to save our once glorious internet company”.
But it seems increasingly likely that Yahoo is sliding towards breaking up to make maximum value for its investors rather than committing to a long-term vision for the future, despite going through those motions. The consensus is that Flickr will be sold off along with Yahoo’s valuable interests in Asia, including its stake in Alibaba. Whether Yahoo survivesas a consumer brand at all, we’ll have to wait and see.Tags: Finance, Yahoo