Yahoo, once a stock market darling on the dotcom scene, plans to return to public markets.
Jim Lanzone, the chief executive of the Silicon Valley group, said that he hoped to bring the company back to the IPO stage as part a plan to restore the group’s prominence.
He said Yahoo was “ready financialy, the company is very profitable, and has a strong balance sheet.” Lanzone said that the fact that the company was private enabled it to make the necessary structural changes. He compared the new business units to those he created when he headed CBS Interactive.
Lanzone, former Tinder chief executive, was brought on board after the spin-off of the group from Verizon, in September 2021, to reestablish it as an independent business.
Verizon, who acquired Yahooand AOL through two separate transactions in 2015-2017, sold the companies to Apollo for $5bn on September 20, 2021. This was after it had suffered significant losses.
Verizon put both businesses under the “Oath’ brand at the time as part of its strategy to diversify from its telecoms into media. However, it was forced to write them down and sell them for close to half what they paid.
The sale of Yahoo was a sign of a decline in fortunes, after losing popularity and market share on the internet to companies like Google and Facebook during the 2000s.
Yahoo became a publicly traded company in April 1996. It quickly became the most popular site for web users around the world, combining search with email. In 2008, Microsoft made a $47bn offer. Yahoo turned it down.
According to Lanzone “even six years after being acquired by a telecoms firm, Yahoo is still ranked in the top five worldwide in terms of total traffic”.
Yahoo has over 30 titles and business units. The largest of these are the Yahoo-branded sites, such as Finance, Sports, News, Mail, along with other sites, such as TechCrunch, a start-up news website.
He said that Yahoo had benefited from being a brand with a long history, which was “people’s trusted guides through the digital wilderness” of the internet. “Whether it is finance, sports, or news, this is still what we do and why we are number one or two in all of these categories, all these years after.”
Lanzone explained that Verizon used the Yahoo name to further its telecoms goals, but this was not the same as supporting its own goals. “It was deployed to their business plan and not what ours would have been on a standalone basis.”
He said: “This is something that we could do for fifty or one hundred years.” Although the company has struggled at different times, our traffic is still high and we are in our prime product-wise.
He added that the company would look for M&A deals in sectors related to its own where it had not yet built a business. He said that the company would be “aggressive” in its search for M&A opportunities.
Yahoo has recently acquired the sport betting app Wagr, to expand its sports business. We’ll do a lot for every vertical that we own. We have already been involved in M&A.”
He stated that the group is still in the top three for search, but “too small” at this time to compete with Google and Microsoft Bing. Lanzone added, “Hopefully we can earn back our way there.” “I am pretty optimistic about our ability to achieve.” “I think AI offers a unique opportunity for every product.”