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Yahoo's dilemma: Deal or no deal?
Yahoo recently approached Time Warner about buying America Online

 4:51 pm on Oct 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

FORTUNE [money.cnn.com]has learned from multiple sources that Yahoo recently approached Time Warner (parent of FORTUNE's publisher) about buying America Online

CEO Terry Semel is mulling a number of moves that would impress Wall Street and steal the spotlight from the Google behemoth.

Yahoo's likeliest moves:

  • Buy AOL
  • Sell to Microsoft
  • Merge with eBay
  • Stay the course
  • Yahoo's market value is $35 billion, and it has about $3 billion in cash and securities



     5:13 pm on Oct 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

    If that reflects reality, what a sad set of options:

    1. Buy a tired, overweight, over the hill community when everyone else is buying rising stars (ot at least risen stars!)

    2. Surrender to another 'tired community' company

    3. Surrender to a purely sales-based rival.

    4. Muddle on and keep your fingers crossed.

    I'm not particularly a Yahoo! fan - but I think that set of options is way too pessimistic for yahoo!

    Mature companies impress Wall Street best by making long term decisions wisely; not fire sales, not panic buys. Or surrender to barely related companies that just happen to have deep pockets.


     5:24 pm on Oct 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

    It should also be noted that the article also says that Google could buy Yahoo to keep it away from Microsoft. If that happens, should Microsoft just give up? Google/Yahoo/YouTube and Google's deal with MySpace, they would also have an incredible audience to advertise to. Not to mention what that would do to the search market, Google would be so far ahead, it could be the nail in Microsoft's coffin.

    That would be almost unfathomable to think that Google has already conquered Excite, Alta Vista and others and now Yahoo? Amazing.


     5:26 pm on Oct 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

    IMHO, Selling to Microsoft would be the best course for Yahoo, Combining Yahoo's Search/Portal with MS's distribution would be powerfull.

    BTB i dont see any synergies in the other moves speculated by WSJ.


     5:28 pm on Oct 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

    >> Google could buy Yahoo

    Nah, never going to happen, too much cultural differences between the two.


     6:49 pm on Oct 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

    Yahoo could go a long way by just changing their home page. Instead of the typical (heavy content) page visitors see when they go to:


    Go right to the search box that you get at:


    (and get rid of the news articles).

    Yahoo could keep the interface clean of clutter and move the portal and all the "toys" and content areas aside --- then they could compete as a "search engine".


     6:57 pm on Oct 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

    You need to look at these from a different vantage point.

    1. Buy a tired, overweight, over the hill community when everyone else is buying rising stars (ot at least risen stars!)

    It's called buying an existing user base, cash flow if you will. It's often cheaper than acquiring new customers as long as you do it right and don't overpay for the mess that is AOL.

    2. Surrender to another 'tired community' company

    MSN / Live is on the move, I don't see them as tired at all, just struggling as the #3 online SE at the moment. The combination could push them to #1 if either of them could figure out search.

    3. Surrender to a purely sales-based rival.

    Money talks and there is a lot of synergy between several aspects of Yahoo and eBay but I personally don't see the match.

    4. Muddle on and keep your fingers crossed.

    Muddle hell, I spend a lot of time on Yahoo, just not using their search.

    They have me hooked for everything from news feeds to TV and Movie guides.

    The search isn't too bad, as I use it more than MSN but less than Google.

    To me, Yahoo has become the epitome of what an online news source should be and that aspect of their property is phenomenal but other areas suffer and they need to work on integrating it all seamlessly.

    [edited by: incrediBILL at 6:58 pm (utc) on Oct. 30, 2006]


     7:01 pm on Oct 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

    >> Google could buy Yahoo

    that's a $45 Billion (assuming a premium) 301 redirect :)

    Yahoo is much more complicated than google. Not mention that their margins aren't as high as Google's resulting in less than stellar results for Google. Yahoo just needs some new blood...and focus on their text ads.


     7:47 pm on Oct 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

    Surely Google wont buy Yahoo.
    I think Yahoo is more likely to purchase companies like Cnet.com, LookSmart.com, InfoSpace.com, Answer.com and Miva.com Inc. Maybe even amazon?


     8:52 pm on Oct 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

    Yahoo just needs some new blood

    You've hit the nail on the head there.


     9:10 pm on Oct 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

    If Yahoo needs new blood, how long could the turnaround take? Google is the unchallenged leader in search and online advertising. Are they too far behind? There is always the 'never say never' and 'anything can happen' attitude, but is cutting their losses and selling to Google or MS their best bet? I would say so. While so many people go there for news and financial information, they seem to be an afterthought when it comes to search (for the non-web publishers anyway).


     9:12 pm on Oct 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

    Yahoo should get serious about video, but build it themselves.

    Yahoo does a very good job in many areas. They need to target their marketing. Buy ads in biz sections of major markets touting their excellent finance info. On the movie ads, promote Yahoo entertainment.

    They need to drop the! from their name and tell people why they should put the! their instead.

    Sell to Microsoft? Or whoever? Sure, why not if the price is right. But, they've still got to compete no matter what. This ain't some startup. This is about making it work. Buying AOL doesn't appear to be a wise move, but, then it depends on the price, doesn't it?


     9:45 pm on Oct 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

    Despite the article, I don't think Yahoo is in as desperate of a situation as we may think. Their user base or "community" is very strong. Take a look how Yahoo Answers took off compared to Google Answers. As search moves towards using using behavoirs to rank results, Yahoo could be in a good position. Plus we are seeing Yahoo actively making bids for companies to acquire - not the kind of behavoir you'd expect to see from a company that might sell to a rival.

    However, Yahoo still has a lot to prove. To shift users away from Google, they need to improve their search dramatically. I agree with IncrediBILL, if Yahoo can nail down search they have a number of advantages over Google.


     9:58 pm on Oct 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

    Yahoo! is still Search #2. Not a bad place to be.

    Y! only seriously falls down on the 'community' thing; buying AOL is buying a dying brand, with exactly the opposite kind of profile compared to YouTube etc; age is wrong, spending patterns are wrong, interest in new tech is wrong.

    Merging with M$N wouldcertainly have some synergies - but a waste of one SE, and numerous other overlaps; the shareholders would NOT be impressed. And M$N as a community is much nearer AOL than MySpace.

    Both have something going for them - but neither actually deals with Yahoos!'s problem - which is a lack of YouTube/MySpace-type people. So neither is at all likely.

    Yahoo! does have to sort that out - but it is by no means a basket case. Ask will go belly up long before Yahoo! blinks. And Lycos has yet to be interred, though it's been dead for a while.


     10:22 pm on Oct 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

    if Yahoo can nail down search

    Thatís really the problem, and where they need to address getting the new blood. Their making money thatís for sure but their stock is way down and thatís where the pressure builds. They have spent a fortune trying to improve the core product they have for search and the people in charge are not getting the job done. Go look at your stats, for me it never cracks 20%. Iím not suggesting this will cure all their problems but for crying out loud theyíve been at it for four years now and itís no better than it was then.

    If you own stock, youíre an owner, and as an owner do you see the present results as acceptable after spending hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars plus the cost of an army of workers going at it for four years?


     1:08 am on Oct 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

    Merge with eBay.


     2:08 am on Oct 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

    Yahoo buying AOL:

    Given AOL search is powered by Google, and Google and AOL already have deals inked on text ads, what do you think the odds are that Yahoo is going to be able to even get it's foot in the door? Time Warner already has far too many deals with Google to risk the relationship by even talking to Yahoo.

    Yahoo is completely shut out from talking to AOL. A business writer who thinks this is possible A) Hasn't done his research and B) Hasn't even been reading his own publication.

    Yahoo selling to MS:

    Yahoo and MSN haven't particularly been going at each other lately, as they're both focused on the Big G. It could happen. Business-wise, there's nothing standing in the way, and there wouldn't be a huge culture clash.

    MS would get Y!'s huge and loyal user base (don't underestimate it). YIM is miles ahead of Google Talk, and combined with MSN Messenger, it would be a force to be reckoned with.

    The content aggregation of the two entities would mean a huge number of "eyes" on the content, in a demographically controllable way that advertisers love, and will pay a premium for.

    Merge With EBay:

    What's in it for EBay? A bunch of second rate retailers in Yahoo Marketplace? (No offense to anyone here - you can make a personal killing off a Yahoo Store, but the revenue generated for the 'Big Brother' entity doesn't even factor for EBay).

    Aside from that, there's bupkus for synergy between the two.

    Stay the Course:

    Why not? They're big enough, with a diverse enough audience, that if they're even semi competently managed, they can remain relevant and profitable for many years to come.

    I still maintain my YIM and Yahoo Mail accounts, if for no other reason than I've had them for, what, 8, maybe 9 years? Along with 8 or 9 years worth of contacts that go along with it. And very, VERY many people are in the same boat. Not to mention all the corporations out there that still use YIM as their internal corporate messenger client (hard to believe, but true - Symantec still uses YIM as their internal messenger client).

    Add to that their news aggregation, and vast depth of user generated content on Geocities, Yahoo 360, Yahoo Communities, and on and on....

    Who says they need to merge, buy, or sell? Aside from some dipweed reporter over at Fortune who didn't even do enough reading to realize the impossibility of a deal with AOL?


     2:48 am on Oct 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

    Yahoo definitely needs some sorting out, whatever it takes.
    It is probably a good idea for them to buy the rest of the major dot coms, that are still only around $100m.
    If they dont someone else will, whether its msft or newscorp.

    Yahoo mainly needs to sort out YPN and YSM, these products are terrible compared to the competition. And Y! is the #2 player here in what has pretty much become a duopoly.

    IMO Yahoo is still a good company but does need some sorting out.


     5:20 am on Oct 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

    I agree with grelmar: Y! needs to stay indie and not rush into something just becuase things are tough right now. They have an amazing brand and very good strategy; they just need to catch up on search and text ads.

    Oh, and they need to re-include a site of mine that was banned ages ago ;)


     5:22 am on Oct 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

    Yahoo needs a better negotiator (obviously Google and NewsCorp has been better at negotiating). Yahoo still has a great product (besides search) and has the best mail program.

    >> Google could buy Yahoo
    Why Not? Although, It would seem weird since Yahoo basically made Google what it is today.


     5:46 am on Oct 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

    Google wont buy Yahoo, in any event MSN would be more likely to outbid for Yahoo.

    Yahoo is an excellent brand and has a lot of great products. It just needs a tidy up.

    Yahoo is a bargain at around $40b, and the fact that google is trading almost 4 times the price has to show that Yahoo is not using its full potential.


     6:41 am on Oct 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

    If I was leading Yahoo, my major project at this time would be how to buy Ask.com.......they have the fresh blood Yahoo needs desperately :)


     7:43 pm on Oct 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

    ask.com will be an unlikely sale. Its parent company is IAC/InterActiveCorp, which owns companies like QVC, Excite, IWon and Expedia.

    Kings on steeds

     10:56 pm on Oct 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

    You all forget about panama, the advances this will bring for Yahoo will be big, and i am very sure we will see the gap close between the top 3. they are all main players and if agencies have anything to do with it, which we do, things will stay that way!

    yahoo isnít dead yet, the night is young!



     10:52 pm on Nov 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

    Perhaps, but you have to admit they are being extremely slack with Yahoo Search Marketing. Adwords is just a so much better product.

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