Reuters blog archive

from Breakingviews:

Yahoo’s Alibaba windfall tough to spend wisely

By Richard Beales

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

More than ever in her nearly two-year tenure, Marissa Mayer needs to find the exclamation point in Yahoo’s business. After the company sells something like half of its 22.6 percent stake in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, the Yahoo chief executive could have $12 billion on hand. Spending it wisely will be tough.

Last time it sold Alibaba shares back to the Chinese company, the U.S. firm used most of the proceeds to repurchase stock – just under $6 billion worth since the start of 2012, the company said during its first-quarter earnings call last month. However, Yahoo’s share price has more than doubled over that period, so purchasing stock has become a pricier use of cash.

While the rise in market value to about $34 billion since Mayer took over in July 2012 partly reflects her leadership, it also owes plenty to hype over the value of Alibaba, expected to tip the scales well into 12 figures. Yahoo’s stake accounts for almost 60 percent of its own worth at a $130 billion valuation for Alibaba. Yahoo is supposed to sell about 9 percent of Jack Ma’s e-commerce creation when Alibaba goes public. That would add perhaps $8 billion after tax to more than $4 billion of cash and equivalents on Yahoo’s balance sheet.

from Stories I’d like to see:

Value of big data, news on Newsweek, White House Correspondents Dinner’s costs

U.S. President Barack Obama is shown on a screen as he speaks during the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner

1. What’s the real value of big data?:

The Obama administration’s report last week on the need to consider restricting how Google, Facebook and other Internet powerhouses collect and use big data reminds me of a story I’ve been hoping to see for a while: How much does this collecting and slicing and dicing of big data actually help advertisers and marketers?

I get the idea that a woman who lives in New Jersey and has accessed information online about baby carriages makes a great target for advertisers selling other baby or maternity products. But do marketers really benefit from data that they buy that goes way beyond that -- that zeroes in on what other websites she has been to, where she buys what online, where a location service says she has physically been lately or whether her Gmails refer to different products or subjects?

from Breakingviews:

Googleization of Yahoo hits pricey speed bump

By Richard Beales and Robert Cyran
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

The Googleization of Yahoo has hit a pricey speed bump. Chief Executive Marissa Mayer has fired the chief operating officer she lured from her former employer, costing Yahoo as much as $60 million for Henrique de Castro’s 15 months on the job. She may have made the right call, but it’s a reminder that a sprinkling of Googledust won’t on its own get Yahoo growing again.

from Jack Shafer:

If Katie Couric is the answer, what’s the question?

Web publishing -- never a diffident business -- has been calling attention to itself all week long. Yahoo chief executive officer Marissa Mayer, whose forte as boss has been the shimmering acquisition (Summly, Tumblr, Xobni, Rockmelt, et al.) and the high-profile media hire (David Pogue, Megan Liberman, Matt Bai), signed Katie Couric as the site's "global anchor," and promised additional Yahoo News signings, enabling Couric to "lead a growing team of correspondents." Business Insider auteur Henry Blodget, whose enthusiasm for himself approaches the onanistic, responded to Michael Wolff's suggestion that the Insider has peaked and that he should sell with a column saying he wasn't ready to bail. Further down the food chain, Politico, which recently dumped its broadcast TV stations, purchased Capital New York, and PandoDaily (backed by Peter Thiel, Marc Andreessen, Tony Hsieh, and others) bought NSFWCORP to, as its Editor-in-Chief Sarah Lacy put it, "double down on investigative reporting."

All this recent activity could be interpreted as the Internet's usual background noise -- prestige hires, quietly dumped in the next business downturn, and the usual activity by sites testing their worth in the marketplace or actually selling out. Or, alongside the global expansion of BuzzFeed, the phenomenal growth of Gawker, and Cheezburger-Circa's blitzkrieg, do these nuggets serve as new markers of the Web ascendency to a place of media dominance?

from Breakingviews:

Dan Loeb’s Yahoo exit hurts investors twice over

By Robert Cyran
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Dan Loeb’s Yahoo exit hurts investors twice over. The Internet company is buying back two-thirds of the hedge fund mogul’s stake, owned by his firm Third Point, for $1.2 billion. That sucks up most of the cash Yahoo reserved for repurchases. It also heralds the departure of three Third Point-approved directors, robbing Yahoo of some much-needed advisers.

from MediaFile:

How about Hightail-ing it?

Silicon Valley startup YouSendIt, which began as a file sharing and storage company, is getting a corporate makeover. YouSendIt comes off, and Hightail gets papered on.  

 And that's not the only change Chief Executive Brad Garlinghouse is making as he competes more directly with larger startups Dropbox and Box. Hightail will now offer unlimited storage for its paying customers, 90 percent of which are corporations and small businesses.

from Breakingviews:

U.S. online spying leak could harm Silicon Valley

By Robert Cyran
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The latest leak detailing U.S. online spying could harm Silicon Valley. The National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are mining data from Internet giants including Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Microsoft. The publication of some details may provide a privacy selling point for those not cooperating, like Twitter. It could also encourage other governments to engage in what might be called data nationalism.

from Breakingviews:

Marissa Mayer puts exclamation point back in Yahoo

By Jeffrey Goldfarb

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Marissa Mayer has made her mark on Yahoo in less than a year. The website chief’s $1.1 billion deal to buy blogging site Tumblr on Monday goes a long way to restoring the faded and vainglorious exclamation point to the company’s name.

from MediaFile:

How Tumblr might ‘screw up’ Yahoo

There’s a lot to unpack in Yahoo’s reported $1.1 billion deal for Tumblr, but much of the reporting today is focused on the rather bland challenge of turning Tumblr into a profitable company. Forcing Tumblr to make money will eventually become an important mission for Yahoo, but for now it’s far from the point.

This deal’s most pressing issue isn’t what will come of balance sheets, it’s what will come of each organization’s corporate culture. Marissa Mayer has promised, in her post on the deal, “not to screw it up.” She’s talking about Tumblr. But that’s just Mayer’s very smart way of inverting what she must be hoping Tumblr becomes for Yahoo: a threat to its older, established, some might say calcified culture that has been short on innovation, creativity and user-focused design for many years now. Tumblr, indeed, will be far from “screwed up” as it gets used to its new home under Yahoo. Tumblr seems to have a bright future as something like a design lab and an already-functioning charter city under the aegis of the Yahoo brand. It will be, and already is, something Mayer will point at to tell her team, “why don’t you do it that way?”

from MediaFile:

The future of search only cost $30 million

On the surface, Nick D’Aloisio’s story is the kind tech lives for, and sometimes regrets. It’s the tale of a kid selling an obscure startup for an inflated price, and then it becomes as irrelevant as Netscape, and its buyer’s remorse is part of the company's enduring legacy.

But the story of Summly, a startup whose app appeared in the Apple Store only five months ago and was purchased on Monday by Yahoo for a reported $30 million, isn't part of this trite arc.