Yahoo (YHOO) CEO Marissa Mayer has told the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos - which has officially opened today - that by the end of this year, the company "will have more mobile traffic than PC traffic."
If Mayer's forecasts are fulfilled, it would represent a major change from the neglected state of Yahoo's mobile efforts when she first joined the company in mid-2012. Since then, Mayer has made mobile a major focus; just yesterday, it emerged that Yahoo had made its latest mobile acquisition with the purchase of Sparq, a developer of an ad platform.
As has been the case with many other acquisitions, Sparq's service will shut down, and its team will join Yahoo. Yahoo has plenty of apps that could make use of Sparq's underlying ad technology.
Meanwhile, scrutiny of Yahoo's product and content strategy has grown following last week's firing of COO Henrique de Castro (followed by the splitting up of de Castro's responsibilities among other execs), and the resignation of seasoned editor-in-chief Jai Singh.
Pando Daily's Sarah Lacy observes Yahoo's media team might not be thrilled with Marissa Mayer's decision (following de Castro's firing) to put Yahoo's media and editorial functions under the control of marketing chief Kathy Savitt. She adds Mayer "may have taken the things that ailed Yahoo – a distracted, bloated focus across dozens of products and industries where it was good but not great – and made that problem worse."
Also: Jeff Bercovici observes unique U.S. visitors to Tumblr's site (per comScore) have been roughly flat since last spring. It's worth noting comScore's data doesn't include traffic from Tumblr's mobile apps, which has continued to grow.
In a company memo, Marissa Mayer (YHOO) states she "made the difficult decision" that COO Henrique de Castro "should leave the company."
Mayer also indicates many of De Castro's responsibilities will be handed off to other execs. Four ad sales/regional operations execs, including recently-hired Americas ad chief Ned Brody, will report directly to Mayer. CMO Kathy Savitt will be in charge of "media and editorial functions," and "several functions in the COO org" will be given to homepages/verticals chief Mike Kerns.
Kara Swisher reports De Castro had been "fighting for power" with Brody, Savitt, and M&A chief Jackie Reses, and had "developed a tense relationship" with Mayer.
YHOO -1.4% premarket. The timing of de Castro's firing is naturally raising concerns about Yahoo's Q4 ad performance, particularly given the share losses the company has seen in prior quarters.
Yahoo (YHOO) COO/sales chief Henrique De Castro, hired away from Google by Marissa Mayer only 15 months ago, is leaving the company. No replacement or interim COO has been named. (8-K)
From all indications, De Castro's tenure at Yahoo was a rocky one. AdWeekreported in September the Yahoo COO was "feeling increasing pressure to deliver better ad results," as Yahoo continued to report weak display ad sales, and had failed to endear himself to Madison Ave execs.
De Castro, praised for his intelligence and criticized for his people skills by former Google co-workers, was given a compensation package that had a maximum 4-year value of $56M at the time it was provided.
The departure comes ahead of Yahoo's Jan. 28 Q4 report.
During a CES event (live blog), Marissa Mayer announces Yahoo (YHOO) has acquired Aviate, developer of a service that recommends apps based on location and time. She says Aviate's technology will be used to help further personalize Yahoo's apps and sites.
Mayer has also unveiled Yahoo News Digest, an app that leverages Summly's content summarization tech to provide twice-a-day news digests containing articles, photos, tweets, and other content, and Yahoo Tech, an expected tech news site spearheaded by ex-NYT columnist David Pogue.
Pogue asserts Yahoo Tech will serve "the middle 85% of normal people," and takes some shots at rival tech news sites along the way. Interestingly, the site won't be monetized via banner ads.
Also: 1) Mayer suggests Yahoo will focus on improving its share-losing search service by emphasizing contextual search; Google is no stranger to the concept. 2) Katie Couric says her Yahoo show will focus on interviewing "anyone who we believe has an important and interesting story to tell." 3) Tumblr CEO David Karp claims average engagement per Tumblr user is up 55% Y/Y.
Meanwhile, BI reports Yahoo is working with startup Celltick to create a custom Android home screen, one that will promote Yahoo apps/services and adapt to user activity. Facebook took a shot at this concept last year, with less than stellar results.
Seven major U.S. technology companies paid just £54M in U.K. corporate tax in 2012 - the last year for which figures are available - despite raking in combined sales of $15B (£9.13B), the FT reports.
The tax paid by Microsoft (MSFT), eBay (EBAY), Yahoo (YHOO), Facebook (FB) and Apple (AAPL) fell, while that of Amazon (AMZN) and Google (GOOG) rose.
The report comes amid efforts in the U.K. and elsewhere to stop multinational corporations from exploiting what one British legislator described as a "tax bonanza" by using low-tax jurisdictions such as Ireland, Switzerland and Luxembourg to keep their payments at minimal levels.
Stifel's Jordan Rohan has hiked his Yahoo (YHOO +1.1%) PT to $49 from $40, citing (what else?) enthusiasm about Alibaba's (ABABA) pending IPO. Rohan thinks Alibaba's apparent decision to delay its IPO is a positive for Yahoo, since it allows the company to sell the 208M shares it's required to unload at IPO time in a tax-efficient manner.
BofA/Merrill has also released a bullish note on Yahoo; the firm's bull case valuation for Yahoo now stands at $58/share.
Last month, Citi and RBC respectively raised their Yahoo PTs to $46 and $44. RBC gave Alibaba a $150B valuation, and Yahoo's stake a $36B pre-tax valuation.
"We expect U.S. online video advertising will increase to $8.1 billion by 2016, a 37% compound annual growth rate," says analyst Ken Sena, noting his team's estimates are well above those of Magna Global, which sees $6.1B, or a 24% CAGR. "Video content is becoming more about immediacy and on-demand, the seconds-long clip formats of Vine and Instagram have unleashed a new wave of UGC, and YouTube steamrolls on for most everything video."
Looking at Twitter (TWTR) and assuming it can garner 5% of this action, Sena says 17% of his team's 2016 $6B revenue estimate would consist of video.
"Moreover, by examining other online video providers too through the framework of 1) control of the feed, 2) programmatic ad delivery across multiple devices, and 3) access to premium content, we see Google (GOOG), Twitter and Facebook (FB) as best positioned," he says. "What places Twitter in such strong company is the combination of its immediacy and the support that it is receiving from the traditional TV industry."
PTs: Twitter to $70 from $52, Yahoo (YHOO) to $40 from $33, AOL to $44 from $40, Google to $1,290 from $1,250, Amazon (AMZN) to $480 from $450.
Android Police has posted images and a video clip showing what it says is a Yahoo (YHOO) voice assistant app under development. The app, which can be accessed via an icon that appears on home screens, relies (like Google Now) on user data to push time/location-sensitive information.
The app also supports (like both Google Now and Apple's Siri) voice recognition input and the ability to send quick messages, and (on Android phones) can be accessed through an icon that appears on home screens.
As Android Police observes, Yahoo recently acquired natural language-processing startup SkyPhrase, whose technology could be quite useful for creating a voice assistant app.
If/when the app launches, Yahoo could leverage the volumes of user data it has to push relevant information to users. At the same time, Google has even more user data, and both Google Now and Siri have big head starts in both reeling in users and optimizing their services based on activity.
Yahoo (YHOO -0.6%) has acquired PeerCDN, developer of a content delivery network (CDN) platform that relies heavily on peer-to-peer (P2P) traffic between users to lower bandwidth costs.
Yahoo might be interested in using PeerCDN's technology for its own video streaming efforts. The company recently bought live concert streaming platform Evntlive, and yesterday announced a Winter Olympics coverage partnership with NBC.
Meanwhile, Citi's Mark May has hiked his Yahoo PT to $46 from $39, even as he cuts his 2014 adjusted EBITDA forecast to $1.32B from $1.5B. His reason, unsurprisingly, is Alibaba: May now grants the Chinese e-commerce giant a forward P/E of 29 (up from a prior 22), and notes Yahoo will still own a 14% stake (down from a current 24%) post-IPO.
RBC gave Alibaba a $150B valuation last week, and assigned Yahoo's stake a $36B pre-tax valuation.