After 21 years of being listed on the stock exchange, Yahoo (Nasdaq: YHOO) recently announced the results for its last quarter as a public company. Once the jewel of the Internet, Yahoo’s story is a remarkable one that proves how continuous mismanagement and lack of focus can drive a company to its demise. Over the past decade, Yahoo has struggled with shrinking revenues and its inability to keep pace with the evolving technology landscape.
For the first quarter of the year, Yahoo’s revenues fell 3% to $833.8 million, ahead of the market’s forecast of $812 million. On a gross basis, revenues increased 22% to $1.33 billion. EPS of $0.18 was also ahead of the Street’s forecast of $0.14 for the quarter.
By segment, gross revenues for Yahoo’s MAVEN (mobile, video, native and social) segment increased 36% to $529 million. The MAVEN business now accounts for 42% of the quarter’s revenues compared with 38% a year ago. Non-MAVEN revenues grew 15% to $742 million.
Yahoo’s gross search revenues fell 3% over the year to $799 million with the number of paid clicks reducing 12% over the year. Price-per-Click increased 10% over the year. Search revenues excluding TAC were down 12% over the year. Display revenue fell 2% over the quarter to $456 million despite a 2% increase in the number of ads sold. Display revenue excluding TAC was up 5% over the year.
Meanwhile, during the quarter, Yahoo continued to show small signs of improvement. It has doubled the number of users enrolled in Yahoo Account Key in the quarter. These users will find it simpler to sign into their Yahoo accounts using their mobile phone. It has also updated the Yahoo Answers Now service by adding new engagement features like social sharing, question of the day, and notification controls.
As part of its mobile initiative, Yahoo has launched Captain, which is a mobile bot assistant that helps users manage lists and reminders. It can also coordinate family or group activities.
Other feature upgrades across its services help in the improvement of Yahoo Mail by integrating contact information from emails into Caller ID and an improved search feature that allows results to surface based on relevancy. It also launched a newly designed Yahoo Homepage that showcases content in an easier to discover mode and allows personalization.
In terms of content development, Yahoo improved its live streaming programs. It covered the Presidential Inauguration on Yahoo News, the NBA Trade Deadline on Yahoo Sports’ The Vertical, and Yahoo’s inaugural All Markets Summit on Yahoo Finance. It has also added more content partners especially for the Sports section. It has launched Tourney Pick’em game with brand partnerships from Lexus and Pizza Hut, Yahoo Fantasy Baseball with a featured MLB “Game of the Day” video content, and Yahoo Daily Fantasy in the UK.
But the biggest news for Yahoo was its merger with Verizon. The deal was announced back in July 2016 when Verizon Communications announced its plans to acquire Yahoo’s core Internet business for $4.83 billion. Since then, primarily due to Yahoo’s security breach reported last quarter, the sale price fell to $4.48 billion. In return, Verizon will now become the owner of Yahoo’s owned and operated assets including the search engine, communications platforms, and digital content, advertising products such as Flurry, Brightroll and Gemini, social assets including Tumblr, Flickr, and Polyvore and its real estate.
This was the last quarter for Yahoo as an independent company. From the current quarter onwards, it will be part of Verizon’s AOL segment and will reside under the company called Oath. The merger is expected to be completed by June.
Verizon hasn’t bought the remaining portion of Yahoo’s business, which includes its 15% stake in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan Corp that includes a joint venture with SoftBank, along with the Excalibur patent portfolio, minority investments, and cash and convertibles. This segment of the business will be floated into a new company called Altababa.
Marissa Mayer’s Exit
Yahoo’s current CEO Marissa Mayer will not be a part of either of the two entities. Mayer has constantly defended her performance citing the increase in the stock price since she began heading the company. Over the past five years, Yahoo’s stock has nearly tripled in value. But, the increase is attributed mainly to the growth in the value of the Alibaba investment than in Yahoo’s core operations. The market had counted on Mayer turning around Yahoo, but while the company invested heavily in mobile applications and video, it was still not able to gain a bigger share in the digital advertising segment. Yahoo continued to see its share being acquired by Alphabet and Facebook instead. Despite a clear failure in performance, Mayer is expected to make $186 million through the sale on account of the stock she holds. It is a big price to pay for non-performance, and just goes on to show that it pays not to deliver in the Valley.
Yahoo’s stock is trading around its 52-week high levels of $48.46 with a market capitalization of $46.4 billion. It had fallen to a 52-week low of $35.05 in June last year.