Tue, May 12, 10:34 AM
- Though the Nasdaq is down 0.9%, Yahoo (YHOO +1%) is higher following news Verizon is acquiring AOL (i.e. the company Starboard Value dreamed about merging with Yahoo) for $4.4B. Demand-side/programmatic ad tech platform owner Rocket Fuel (FUEL +3.4%), which competes with AOL's ad tech ops, is also up.
- Citi's Mark May: "We view this deal as a positive for YHOO as it shows there are strategic buyers for this type of asset and because we view YHOO as a strong asset that is currently only valued at 1x our 2016 EBITDA estimate." With Yahoo spinning off its Alibaba stake later this year and exploring options for its Yahoo Japan stake, core Yahoo might soon be available by itself.
- Last week, Rocket Fuel received an unsolicited $350M buyout offer from rival Gravity4 (and jumped in response). However, questions remains about Gravity4's ability to finance the bid, which has been viewed by many as a publicity stunt.
Wed, Apr. 15, 11:06 AM| 1 Comment
Wed, Apr. 15, 10:00 AM
- TechCrunch reports hearing Yahoo (YHOO - unchanged) is in talks to buy local check-in/search platform Foursquare, possibly for ~$900M.
- One source states a "deal is done," and others also report hearing of talks. However, TechCrunch cautions other Yahoo sources haven't heard anything, and notes this isn't the first time rumors of a deal have popped up.
- Foursquare was valued above $600M in a 2014 funding round featuring Yahoo search partner Microsoft. It owns a valuable location check-in database - Foursquare has handled 7B check-ins from 55M people over its lifetime - that could further Yahoo's local services/ad efforts, and its apps would extend Yahoo's mobile reach.
- At the same time, competition from Facebook, Yelp, and Google's services has taken a toll. In an attempt to stem the tide, Foursquare moved its check-in services into a separate app called Swarm last year, while keeping local search in its core app. However, Swarm has seen only modest uptake.
- Yahoo has made a string of big acquisitions in the Marissa Mayer era, but has been quiet for the last several months. Major 2014 deals included video ad platform BrightRoll and mobile analytics/ad platform Flurry.
- Update: CNBC and the WSJ state Yahoo isn't in talks to buy Foursquare.
Wed, Mar. 4, 1:58 PM
- A day after slumping to new post-IPO lows and coming within $0.03 of $80, Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) has seen dip-buyers emerge in large numbers. Naturally, Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) is along for the ride.
- The gains come as a Chinese publication reports Jack Ma once said he considered acquiring Yahoo, which plans to spin off its Alibaba stake into a publicly-traded company in Q4. Ma's alleged comments: "The acquisition of Yahoo is something I worked [on] a couple of years ago, this is a political problem, not an economic problem, Yahoo is a media [company], more sensitive."
- There has already been speculation Alibaba will try to buy Yahoo's spinoff (much less politically challenging than buying the whole of Yahoo) at some point. Bloomberg's Matt Levine has noted the spinoff will have to wait a year before a deal occurs, in order to maintain its tax-free status.
- Meanwhile, Alibaba's Aliyun cloud services unit (a giant in the Chinese cloud infrastructure market) has opened a Silicon Valley data center, its first in the U.S. For now, the data center will cater to Chinese companies with U.S. operations, but it plans to go after non-Chinese clients later this year. When it does, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and a slew of other incumbents will be waiting.
Tue, Jan. 27, 4:14 PM
- Along with its Q4 results, Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) announces its board has "authorized a plan for a tax-free spin-off of the company's remaining holdings in Alibaba Group (NYSE:BABA) into a newly formed independent registered investment company (SpinCo)."
- Shares in the SpinCo will be "distributed pro rata to Yahoo shareholders, resulting in SpinCo becoming a separate publicly traded company." After the spinoff, Yahoo will own its core business and a 35.5% stake in Yahoo Japan. SpinCo will assume no debt in the deal, and Yahoo will retain its cash.
- The spinoff is expected to be completed in Q4 2015, after a one-year lockup on Yahoo's Alibaba stake expires.
- Yahoo's 384M-share (15%) Alibaba stake has a current market value of $39.5B. The company closed today with a total market cap of $46.7B.
- Yahoo has jumped to $51.08 in AH trading. Alibaba is fractionally higher.
Thu, Jan. 8, 11:39 AM
- Though Marissa Mayer (NASDAQ:YHOO) is reportedly uninterested in a deal and Tim Armstrong (NYSE:AOL) has dismissed the M&A speculation swirling around his company, activist Starboard Value is once more reiterating its call for a Yahoo/AOL merger.
- Starboard argues a merger would yield cost synergies of $1B-$1.5B/year, help Yahoo carry out "a tax-efficient separation" of its Alibaba/Yahoo Japan stakes, and create "a strong growth platform given AOL's progress in mobile and video advertising."
- The firm also says it's "increasingly concerned" about reports stating Yahoo is thinking of making a big media acquisition with its Alibaba IPO proceeds. In addition, it's not happy with speculation Yahoo is "considering a cash-rich split-off as a structure to separate its non-core minority equity interests," rather than "a spin-off structure or other available alternatives to unlock the full value of the stakes in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan."
- Yahoo has said it will offer more details about its plans to tax-efficiently monetize its remaining Alibaba stake during its Q4 earnings CC (set for Jan. 27).
- Both Yahoo and AOL are rallying. The Nasdaq is up 1.7%.
Thu, Jan. 8, 4:43 AM
- "There's always speculation around us because we have taken a company that was not doing well and ended 2014 with two straight years of growth," announced AOL (NYSE:AOL) chief executive Tim Armstrong, dismissing talks of possible mergers.
- The company had recently been linked to rumors of a possible joint venture with Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and a merger with Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO).
- Previously: Verizon CEO throws cold water on AOL acquisition rumor (Jan. 06 2015)
Fri, Jan. 2, 9:35 AM
- "For sure, [Marissa] Mayer and Yahoo (YHOO +0.3%) considered acquiring Scripps Networks (SNI +2.7%)," writes BI's Nicholas Carlson, citing two sources. He also reports hearing from a media industry source there were "pretty active" rumors during the summer that Yahoo, which just received an Alibaba IPO windfall, wanted to buy CNN (NYSE:TWX).
- Carlson, whose critical NYT Magazine column on Mayer (adapted from a new book) has drawn plenty of attention, reports Yahoo initially entered into talks with Scripps to acquire The Food Network, and that "the possibility that Yahoo might acquire all of Scripps" later entered into the discussion. Aside from The Food Network, Scripps owns the Travel Channel, HGTV, and DIY Network.
- Among the reported reasons for Yahoo's interest in Scripps: Many of its media brands cater to women "25 or 35 and older" (a key Yahoo demographic); Scripps has very brand advertiser-friendly content; Yahoo could distribute its original content across Scripps' platforms; and Yahoo's salesforce could offer joint TV/Web ad packages.
- A deal for The Food Network alone is arguably more plausible than one for the whole of Scripps, given: 1) Scripps has a $10.6B valuation, and could cost several billion more to acquire. 2) Yahoo hasn't made any giant media acquisitions during the Mayer era, and has instead focused its content investments on financing original material and hiring well-known media personalities (such as Katie Couric and David Pogue).
- Update: Variety reports Yahoo has "mulled buying Food or other Scripps properties internally," but adds the company "has not — either formally or informally — ever [approached] SNI about a potential deal."
Nov. 19, 2014, 4:11 PM
- Yahoo (YHOO) "has been ferreting away over the past few weeks on several more big acquisitions, largely aimed at helping its flagging display business," Kara Swisher reports. Well-funded ad tech startups MediaMath, RadiumOne, and Turn are reportedly among the targets being considered.
- All three companies operate in the fast-growing market for programmatic (automated) ad buys, which presents challenges for Web publishers such as Yahoo to go with opportunities. RadiumOne was once believed to be hatching IPO plans.
- The ink is barely dry on Yahoo's $640M deal to buy video ad tech platform BrightRoll, whose advertiser-facing solutions include a programmatic buying platform. Four months ago, Yahoo struck a deal to buy Flurry, a provider of mobile analytics tools and an in-app ad network.
- Swisher also reports Yahoo has hired consulting giant McKinsey and "a spate of banks" (including Goldman and JPMorgan) to advise it as it continues exploring options to tax-efficiently monetize its Alibaba/Yahoo Japan stakes.
Nov. 17, 2014, 3:38 AM
- Amid a campaign to merge AOL (NYSE:AOL) and Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), activist investor Starboard Value has revealed that it bought a 2.4% stake in AOL in the third quarter.
- Starboard also took a stake in Yahoo during the same period, urging CEO Marissa Mayer to consider a combination of the two companies.
- Starboard has disclosed the size of its position in Yahoo, listing 7.7M shares, or about a 0.8% stake, putting it just outside the list of top 10 shareholders in the company.
- Previously: Activist Starboard takes stake in Yahoo, calls for AOL merger
Nov. 12, 2014, 3:10 AM
- At least two more top-10 Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) shareholders are pushing for an AOL (NYSE:AOL) merger and have taken their plea directly to AOL CEO Tim Armstrong.
- Armstrong has acknowledged the potential benefits of a merger, but indicated he would only consider a friendly deal, Reuters reports.
- The move follows a campaign by activist investor Starboard Value, which is pushing Yahoo to consider a deal with AOL and unlock its valuable stakes in Asian Web companies.
- Previously: AOL CEO downplays Yahoo talk, predicts ad shakeup
- Previously: Activist Starboard takes stake in Yahoo, calls for AOL merger
Nov. 11, 2014, 4:58 PM
- "BrightRoll is a large, growing and profitable business with net revenues expected to exceed $100 million this year," says Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) as it announces its acquisition of the video ad platform. The deal is expected to close in Q1 2015.
- Yahoo notes BrightRoll's programmatic (automated) ad platform handles ad-buying for 87 AdAge Top 100 U.S. advertisers, as well as all of the top 10 demand-side (advertiser-facing) online ad platforms. Meanwhile, BrightRoll's publisher-facing offerings monetize ad inventory for "tens of thousands" of sites/apps.
- Yahoo, hungry for some time to grow its video ad scale and put an end to its display ad revenue declines, declares acquiring BrightRoll "will dramatically strengthen Yahoo's video advertising platform, making it the largest in the US."
- The acquisition price is lower than the ~$700M previously reported by TechCrunch. Yahoo just reaped $6.3B in post-tax Alibaba IPO proceeds; it has promised to return at least half of the sum to shareholders.
Oct. 21, 2014, 10:28 AM
- BrightRoll, long seen as an IPO candidate, offers video ad buyers a network of 21K+ sites and apps. It both directly sells to advertisers looking to run programmatic (automated) video ad campaigns across the network, and also connects with 3rd-party ad platforms such as Google's DoubleClick, AOL's Adap.tv, and Facebook's LiveRail.
- comScore estimates BrightRoll's network reached 155M U.S. users as of June. The company was reported last year to pulling in over $100M/year in revenue.
- TechCrunch reports hearing Yahoo (YHOO +1.3%) has signed term sheets with BrightRoll, and that a deal (if it closes) is likely to involve a ~$700M-$725M price.
- Yahoo, which just reaped an Alibaba IPO windfall, has been hungry to grow its video ad sales for some time. The company has signed a slew of video content deals and acquired streaming tech developer RayV, and is reportedly thinking of launching a YouTube rival (possibly while leveraging Tumblr)
- Fellow video ad tech provider TubeMogul (TUBE +2.5%) is rallying; its market cap is currently $398M
Sep. 26, 2014, 12:21 PM
- In an open letter, activist investor Starboard Value says it's "a significant shareholder" in Yahoo (YHOO +3.9%), and calls for the company to "explore a strategic combination with AOL (AOL +6.1%)."
- Starboard also wants Yahoo to "[unlock] the substantial value" in its Alibaba and Yahoo Japan stakes in a tax-efficient manner (could be easier said than done), cut losses in its display ad/content ops by $250M-$500M through cost cuts, and put an end to its "aggressive" M&A strategy.
- The firm estimates a $17.67/share "value gap" exists between Yahoo's trading price and its sum-of-the-parts valuation, something it attributes to tax worries and concerns about how Yahoo will spend any Alibaba/Yahoo Japan proceeds (previous).
- It thinks an AOL deal "could offer synergies of up to $1 billion by significantly reducing the cost overlaps in [Yahoo and AOL's] Display advertising businesses as well as synergies in corporate overhead." Starboard also believes an AOL merger could lower Yahoo's Alibaba/Yahoo Japan tax bill.
- Josh Brown argued last week Yahoo is now a prime target for activists. Starboard once waged a failed proxy battle against AOL.
- Yahoo and AOL have both spiked in response to Starboard's letter.
Sep. 18, 2014, 3:12 PM
Sep. 10, 2014, 10:40 PM
- The guessing game has started over which U.S. companies Alibaba (Pending:BABA) might pursue after it becomes flush with IPO cash.
- If Alibaba's borrowing power is factored in, estimates for its total spending capacity range as high as $50B.
- Lion's Gate (NYSE:LGF), Red Hat (NYSE:RHT), and Akamai Technologies (NASDAQ:AKAM) have all been bantered around as potential targets.
- Though a long shot, the case for Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) being in the mix is also intriguing. There's $12B in tax savings generated from Alibaba buying Yahoo - instead of Yahoo selling off its post-IPO stake in the Chinese company and paying the tax bill.
- Alibaba debuts on the NYSE on September 19.
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