In it’s 1999 annual report, Yahoo included 34 old-school postcards featuring retro images and illustrations. The upstart corporate effort toward hipness a half-generation ago now looks cocky.
Yahoo is looking for buyers. It hopes to have a slate of interested parties in the week ahead.
The story of Yahoo and how it has gone from a do-no-wrong online pioneer to a struggling veteran staring in a series of boardroom dramas serves as a lesson for investors.
The one-time, and by some measures still, internet giant has stumbled through it’s existence. Hundreds of millions of people use its online services from email to original content to Tumblr, providing a platform for advertisers. The company’s revenues have grown eight-fold since sending out those postcards. However, it’s share price is one-third what is was at the turn of the century.
Long-term shareholders have been subject to several turnaround plans (focused on search, mobile and services), activist shareholders eager to install their own executives and multiple promises of future performance.
Several dozen companies are interested in buying parts of Yahoo, according to the Wall Street Journal. They include dinosaurs like AT&T and Verizon and some of Yahoo’s own competitors such as Google and IAC/InterActiveCorp.
Yahoo’s business is not lifeless. It’s digital advertising and video technologies, thousands of patents and foreign investments like Yahoo Japan and Alibaba, the China-based web commerce portal may be worth more separately than together as they are in Yahoo. And yet, long-term shareholders are left hoping the check is the mail.
Financial journalist Tom Hudson hosts The Sunshine Economy on WLRN-FM in Miami. Follow him on Twitter @HudsonsView.