Kara Swisher reports Marissa Mayer (YHOO +2%) has launched two projects - codenamed Fast Break and Curveball - aimed at creating proprietary search and search ad technology, and that the efforts are "part of a contemplation of how Yahoo can accelerate the end or even end its long-term search and advertising partnership with Microsoft (MSFT +2.7%)."
The effort is said to involve top Yahoo execs, including three product SVPs, and to feature just a 3-4 month timeframe. Over time, it could "result in a full search engine, possibly more oriented to mobile than the desktop."
Marissa Mayer has voiced displeasure with the performance of the Microsoft deal, under which Yahoo's results and search ad platform are powered by Bing, and has reportedly considered abandoning it before.
However, the deal is set to last until 2020 and currently features revenue/search guarantees (the latest renewal expires in March). Any attempt to create a fully-fledged search alternative to Google and Bing would carry both monetization risks and require massive R&D investments.
Yahoo's search paid clicks rose 17% Y/Y in Q4, less than Google's 31%. StatCounter estimates Yahoo has a 3.1% global search share, compared with a 90.3% share for Google and a 3.3% share for Bing. Yahoo's mobile/tablet search share is pegged at 3.99%.
Previous: Microsoft up following Nadella/Gates report