Seit Marissa Mayer an der Spitze von Yahoo! steht und dabei eine rigoros fortlaufende M&A Strategie verfolgt (allein 15 Käufe in den letzten 6 Monaten – der bekannteste davon Tumblr) beschäftige ich mich mit wieder deutlich gesteigertem Interesse für dieses in Deutschland vor allem als Mail-Provider und Suchmaschine bekanntes Unternehmen. Bei Quora bin eben auf diesen Beitrag (anonym) gestoßen, der die bisherige Entwicklung und die Bedeutung von Marissa Mayer für Yahoo! auf den Punkt bringt:
“First, keep in mind that Yahoo’s financial picture is dominated by their stake in Alibaba. Yahoo owns a 24% stake in two fast-growing Chinese internet businesses, and for large shareholders, this is the primary financial reason to own Yahoo stock – to get exposure to Alibaba (a private Chinese company that’s otherwise hard to get into).
Given that situation, Yahoo’s “core business” (the one in the US that Ameri-centric Valley folk think is Yahoo) is almost irrelevant. It is steadily eroding. What it means is that Marissa Mayer doesn’t have to be risk-averse with the core business, because it’s now a vestigial afterthought. What Marissa Mayer has right now is time, a bunch of cash, and a lot of freedom to repurpose a ton of engineers and product people. It also has a large sales force – their problem is that the “core” properties are difficult to sell against since they are declining.
Thus, what Mayer is doing is using the cash (and cheap stock – the stock is cheapbut this means that it has upside and thus value to optimists, i.e. entrepreneur who might take it as payment) to buy properties that are on growing traffic trajectories and talent who can work on continuing to upgrade those properties. Yahoo can then take the content from those properties and sell ads against the traffic. The whole “problem” with Yahoo is that they’re a display ads business, but no one was coming to their properties any more. So Yahoo is just going to buy a bunch of properties, which gets them that traffic, and solve that problem. The fact that they can pick up some good talent from smaller startups only helps boost the quality of the stuff they’re buying. And, there’s a few properties here and there that are still doing well, so Marissa is investing in upgrading them (e.g. Flickr).
A somewhat similar strategy was executed by AOL starting a few years ago by Tim Armstrong, who leveraged AOL’s size and cashflow to buy lots of blogs and online publications with growing traffic, and then successfully monetized them using their existing ad sales force. In fact, the strategy resulted in AOL being the hottest tech stock in 2012 (see The Hottest Tech Stock Of The Year – AOL), in contravention to what was commonly expected as “cool” in the Valley echo-chamber.”