A Yahoo executive we met with recently shared some interesting speculation with us.
This executive thinks that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer wants to sell the company.
This source pointed out that such a sale would allow Mayer to exit the troubled company a victor — having tripled Yahoo’s stock price since July 2012.
She would be able to say, proudly, that she was hired into Yahoo to save the company as a software engineer, but ultimately realised her real bosses were Yahoo shareholders — to whom she returned a billions of dollars in capital and provided huge returns.
We were hesitant to share this speculation because it should be taken with a huge grain of salt!
It is just one source’s musing, albeit one based on personal interaction with the CEO.
Mayer has given no public indication that she is running Yahoo with anything but long term goals in mind.
Mayer would not be crazy to want out.
The company’s core business, display advertising, has shrunk for the past four quarters. Yahoo is trying to recapture those revenues with a growing mobile and video advertising products, but that’s not happening fast enough to prevent overall revenues from declining.
Meanwhile, Yahoo’s homepage traffic is cratering.
Over the weekend, Keach Hagey and Douglas MacMillan of the Wall Street Journal reported that traffic to Yahoo’s homepage was down 31% in March 2015 versus March 2014.
Under Mayer — and prior CEOs — Yahoo has positioned itself not as a producer of content, but as a place that distributes content for other partners.
A quickly shrinking homepage erodes Yahoo ability to do that. It erodes Yahoo’s ability to do much at all, really.
You can’t blame the trend on Mayer. She’s been unable to reverse it, but it started long before her arrival. Why wouldn’t she take a chance to walk away from Yahoo a huge winner?
A Yahoo spokesperson declined to comment on this post.