As strange as it may seem, when all the dust clears from the great internet battles of yesteryear, to hear that Yahoo Inc’s CEO Marissa Mayer is getting her ear bent regarding the acquisition of America Online aka AOL.
AOL, once the big daddy of the internet has slacked off in the past decade. It used to be the reigning king of everything online from chat to free websites and so forth. It once ruled side by side to it’s parent company TimeWarner but continued management foul ups, government intervention and control, departing talent that made the network, all led to AOL becoming nothing more than where to get your old emails. The fact that they killed off everyone’s free websites they’d spent years managing didn’t help either.
It’s all about that Alibaba stock. That’s what has emerged from the grapevine as Jeffrey Smith a well known activist investor says that Yahoo should buy AOL Inc in order to reduce the future taxes on their shares of Alibaba that blew the doors off Wall Street a week ago. That IPO made billionaires overnight. Smith also lambasted CEO Mayer for dishing out $1.3 billion to buy some blogging service and a reported 2 dozen startups over the past 2 years. These investments so far haven’t shown a profit.
Smith’s got a dog in this fight as he has reportedly built some significant amount in Yahoo via starboard Value LP. Investors piqued up as they heard the rumors of Yahoo’s sudden possible wake up call. The stock rose 4.4% closing at $40.66. In addition, AOL’s stock stepped up a notch closing at 3.7% more to close at $44.55.
This isn’t the first time Yahoo has gotten a shake, rattle, and roll. For the past 6 years there has been three upheavals. Of note was when Carl Icahn snagged three seats on Yahoo’s board during 2008 after tonguelashing the company for turning down a $47.5 billlion takeover bid from Microsoft Corp and well known hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb who also snagged three seats but in 2012. Loeb got this coup after giving the boot to previous CEO Scott Thompson.
It’s theorized that Yahoo CEO Mayer has been trying to win the younger audiences by buying up the startups that the kids like. That mobile social networking market is huge and still needs taming.