The board of directors of Yahoo! is considering a radical step: the sale of its Internet activities.
The fate of Yahoo! may play out in the next few days. Its board of directors called several meetings this week to discuss radical measures, going as far as the dismantling of the company.
Under pressure from activist investors, in particular Starboard Value, the group is considering the worst possible solution: the sale of its Internet activities, in other words its core business since its creation. The founder of the Web, who has just celebrated his twentieth birthday, would then be nothing: he would no longer have any operational activity, only the management of his stakes in Alibaba, with the Chinese e-commerce giant, and in Yahoo! Japan, its Japanese subsidiary. Starboard which, after having vigorously pleaded for Yahoo to sell its shares in Alibaba, did an about-face Thursday, November 30 when it learned that the US tax authorities refused to confirm that the transaction would be tax-free. If this choice were made, it would all be like a bitter failure for Marissa Meyer, which has been trying to relaunch the company for three years by increasing the number of product launches and acquisitions.
The divestiture of the Internet business would only aim for one thing, the maximization of profits for the shareholders. Their patience has visibly reached its limits: Yahoo! has lost a third of its stock market valuation since the start of the year. Last month, Marissa Mayer had indicated last month that she was going to adopt a new strategy to restart the company, without giving further details.
Many company executives also cannot believe it any longer: around thirty of them left the ship this year, including the marketing director, the advertising manager and the America and Europe bosses.
The gap widens with Google and Facebook
But Google and Facebook continue to widen the gap, claiming the largest share of the advertising market. In the eyes of investors, the value of Yahoo! is thus weak. The firm Pivotal Research estimates it at just under $ 2 billion ... less than the amount paid by Facebook to buy WhatsApp last year.
The sale of Internet activities is not the only option on the table: it can also be considered the sale of its 15% stake in Alibaba (a measure that could also be combined with the first). It is an assignment that Marissa Mayer had been considering for several months as well.
This is not the first time that Yahoo! is encouraged to change strategy. Billionaire Carl Icahn had already campaigned in 2008 for a sale to Microsoft. Starboard Value had also argued last year for an alliance with AOL.