The announcement Monday morning that Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZC) had agreed to acquire Yahoo! Inc.’s Stock not found YHOO operating business for $4.83 billion in cash was instantly met by everything from historical analysis to good old fashioned Wall Street prognostication.
Under the historical analysis caption came a review of all the boats Yahoo missed in its nearly two-decades-long run, including opportunities to acquire companies that eclipsed it years ago, specifically Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ:GOOGB) Google and Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FBC).
What Was Yahoo, Really?
Despite a history that included 6 CEOs and multiple attempts, according to The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo’s main problem was a failure to define itself. Was it a search engine? A social network? An online marketplace? A media company? None of the above? Or, as some have suggested, an attempt at all of the above?
Former Yahoo executive, Brad Garlinghouse, wrote in 2006, “If you’re everything, you’re kind of nothing.” Yahoo’s current CEO, Marissa Mayer, oversaw the company’s final attempt at a turn-around. Despite her efforts, the central question (What is Yahoo?) was never answered.
Treasure Or Trash?
Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo’s core businesses for $4.83 billion could certainly be considered a waste of cash by those on Wall Street who believe the company’s assets are nearly worthless.
As Quartz noted, however, the deal could make sense for Verizon. Verizon is one of the country’s largest telecom carriers and it has a couple of problems – market saturation and limited growth potential.
Clearly the company sees the acquisition of Yahoo, which follows its acquisition of AOL in May 2015, as a pathway to growth through online content and advertising.
By obtaining online assets such as search, mail and instant messaging, VZ believes it will then be “in a highly competitive position as a top global mobile media company,” according to Verizon chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam.
Can New Verizon Compete?
The question, of course, is whether Verizon, along with the hundreds of millions of new Yahoo viewers it gets from the acquisition, can compete with online advertising leaders, especially the aforementioned Google and Facebook.
It’s worth noting that in the U.S., comScore ranks Yahoo at No. 3 among digital properties. As Mayer said in the joint press release, “Yahoo and AOL popularized the Internet, email, search and real-time media. It’s poetic to be joining forces with AOL and Verizon as we enter our next chapter focused on achieving scale on mobile.”
As For Yahoo!
Meanwhile, Yahoo, which will retain its stake in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE:BABAC) and Yahoo Japan, said it plans to change its name and continue as a publicly traded company following the completion of the acquisition of its core business assets by Verizon. That merger has yet to be approved by federal regulators.
Yahoo (under whatever name it emerges) will not be a small company. Yahoo’s 15% stake in Alibaba is worth $31.2 billion and its 34% ownership in Yahoo Japan comes in at $8.3 billion. In addition, the company will retain a patent portfolio worth around $1 billion.