The strategy of new Yahoo (YHOO) CEO Ross Levinsohn has become increasingly clear.
Tie Yahoo's fate to old media.
Levinsohn's latest move is to hire Michael Barrett as "chief revenue officer." Barrett is advertised as coming from Google (GOOG), but in fact he was there barely a year. He'd actually built a company called AdMeld, which sells Web ads for publishers, that Google bought last year for $400 million.
Barrett, in fact, was the fall guy in the MySpace debacle at News Corp., fired after revenues fell. Levinsohn is the guy who negotiated that purchase on behalf of News Corp., who insists it was a good deal at the time.
Selling half the company's stake in Alibaba gives Levinsohn some breathing room with which to remake Yahoo as a media-oriented company. In other words it's now a publisher, not a search outfit. Don't think of it as search.
Yahoo has extensive interests in radio and has been busy over many years gaining a big position in sports reporting. Look at where activist investor Daniel Loeb got his new directors from - The Weather Channel and Discovery Networks. Cable companies.
The guess here is that the company's July 12 board meeting will complete Loeb's takeover of the company and its transformation into a media outfit, rather than an Internet outfit. Loeb figures Levinsohn can align Yahoo's media assets, do a variety of deals with other media companies, and set Yahoo up for a sale.
The idea will be that Yahoo's content aligns with that of the media partners, that Yahoo's ad sales force helps these media partners make more money, and that these links become ever-closer over time, so that by next year at this time Yahoo isn't really an Internet company at all.
Which will set it up for a sale. To whom? Again, just a guess. News Corp. (NWS)