Photo: Dylan Love
Way back in the first quarter, hedge fund manager Dan Loeb bought a huge stake in Yahoo, and then launched a proxy war on its board.Eventually, Loeb targeted Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson, and got him booted from the company for misstating his academic record.
Today, Loeb’s firm, Third Point, wrote a letter to its own investors updating them on the fund’s Q2 performance.
There’s a big section on Yahoo in it. It amounts to something of a victory speech for Yahoo’s conqueror. We obtained a copy of this section from a source.
Here are some highlights from the letter, and our comments on them in italics.
- It wasn’t a great quarter, and it turns out that Yahoo was Loeb’s strongest investment during the period.
- Loeb expects Yahoo to close its Alibaba stock sale before the end of October. That’ll give Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer $5 billion to spend. Loeb expects Yahoo to return the amount to shareholders. We hope she does not.
- Loeb dressed up Yahoo’s failed patent lawsuit against Facebook as an “expanded partnership between the two companies.” That’s ridiculous. It was a blowout loss for Yahoo. An embarrassment from start to finish.
- Loeb describes Mayer as “a leading innovator in Silicon Valley whose creative vision made her a critical part of Google’s leadership team.” He says she is responsible for Google’s “iconic home page design.” Mayer certainly played a big role in Google’s development. She was in charge of a lot of people at Google. Her role on Google’s leadership team is up for debate.
- Loeb calls his fight with Thompson a “kerfuffle.”
Here is the Yahoo section of the letter:
Third Point’s investment in Yahoo! appreciated 4% during the second quarter. Due to Yahoo!’s concentrated size in our funds, this modest appreciation still made it the biggest winner for the period.
We were pleased to have favourably resolved the proxy contest we commenced in Q1. Following a subsequent kerfuffle involving misstated academic records of its then‐CEO and a now former board member, Yahoo!’s directors determined that it was in the best interests of the Company to invite our nominees Daniel Loeb, Michael Wolf, and Harry Wilson onto the board.
Since we joined the Board in mid‐May, Yahoo! has achieved three significant milestones. First, Yahoo! and Alibaba, the privately held Chinese internet company in which Yahoo! owns a 40% stake, reached an agreement for Alibaba to repurchase about half of that position at an attractive valuation. This agreement provides pricing transparency and a path to liquidity for this key Yahoo! asset, and is expected to close sometime in Q3. Yahoo! has indicated that it will return substantially all of the expected $5B of cash it will receive from this transaction to shareholders. Second, the Company was able to amicably settle a patent lawsuit filed in the first quarter against Facebook, one of its largest partners, resulting in a new, expanded partnership between the two companies.
Lastly, Yahoo recently appointed Marissa Mayer as CEO. Mayer, a Stanford graduate with a B.A. in Symbolic Systems and M.S. in Computer Science, was Google’s 20th employee when she joined the fledging company in 1999. During her 13 years at Google, she oversaw the design of numerous well‐known products and was responsible for its iconic home page design. Mayer is a leading innovator in Silicon Valley whose creative vision made her a critical part of Google’s leadership team. Her appointment was received favourably by employees and the tech community. We were very pleased to have had the opportunity to work with our fellow directors towards this extremely positive outcome and wish Marissa the best.