Yahoo CEO Spinning Off Core Assets to Save Ailing Company

Yahoo’s chief executive Marissa Mayer is on a path to revive Yahoo by spinning off core assets, possibly ending the company’s existence as an independent entity. One thing is certain: the company is going to get smaller. On Tuesday, Yahoo said it would lay off 15 percent of its 11,000-person staff, ultimately making the workforce 42 percent smaller than it was in 2012, when Mayer took over the reins as chief executive. Although she counsels shareholders to be patient, activist investors may try to elect a new board.

The New York Times writes that, “whether the intense, glamorous and controversial executive will get more time to fix the company promises to be one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent dramas of 2016.” As chief executive, Mayer has acquired more than 20 companies, but she now believes a sell-off will “rejuvenate the once-dominant Internet giant… not in 2016, perhaps, but 2017.”


Investors are clearly not certain how to take the news; Yahoo shares slumped on Tuesday, perked up and then declined slightly again. “The company is open to all options,” said RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Mahaney. “There is a distinct possibility that Yahoo as an independent company no longer exists within two years.”

One investor, Starboard Value, has accused the board of “ignoring potential offers and dragging its feet in coming up with plans to spin off its core assets,” excoriating “existing leadership” for destroying value.

Yahoo does have suitors: Verizon chief executive Lowell McAdam last year evinced interest and some private equity firms have also “been quietly studying a potential acquisition of Yahoo’s Web businesses.” In 2011, Silver Lake and TPG also considered purchasing a minority stake.

A recent report by eMarketer revealed just how dire Yahoo’s situation is; in 2015, the company earned $3.37 billion in global digital ad revenue, representing 2 percent of the market, down from a 2.4 percent share in the previous year. Mobile ads and search are “equally dismal,” notes NYT; Yahoo is on track to capture 2.1 percent of the worldwide search market, same as in 2015.

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