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Yahoo can afford content push for now –thanks to Alibaba


John Shinal, Different for USA TODAY eight:forty eight p.m. EST January 7, 2014


With the enormous content material push Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer showcased in Las Vegas on Tuesday, her technique is starting to seem extra like that of her Yahoo predecessors than that of her former bosses at Google.

The query now’s whether or not Mayer’s technique will start to repay prior to her prolonged honeymoon with Wall Boulevard – paid for with Yahoo’s moneymaking stake in Chinese language e-commerce massive Alibaba – in the end ends.

One factor does seem sure at the moment: Mayer’s initiative to create extra authentic video and on-line journal content material will maintain vital upward force on the corporate’s already-surging product construction prices.

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Yahoo CEOs have been paying up for original content ever since Terry Semel arrived from Hollywood a decade ago.

Google, meanwhile, has trounced its smaller rival in the online ad wars by getting low-cost, text-based stories via its news-search product and high-volume video on the cheap, via YouTube.

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Until Mayer arrived, the battle was no contest, which is why even today Google’s market value is nine times that of Yahoo.

Yet Mayer has rejuvenated Yahoo’s credibility within the tech industry, helping to create a buzz about the company that’s not been seen since the dotcom boom.

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“I hear folks speaking about going to (work at) Yahoo that I by no means idea I’d,” says Pete Koomen, co-founder and president of Web software startup Optimizely and a former affiliate product supervisor at Google.

Along with shopping for a bunch of small, principally mobile-based totally startamericato gather each technology and ability – a la Google – Mayer has lured excessive-profile media names to provide unique displays.

Former CBS Night Information anchor Katie Couric and former New York Instances tech columnist David Pogue have been onstage with Mayer Tuesday throughout her keynote presentation to CES, the trade’s greatest alternate exhibit.

But whereas Mayer has introduced extra superstar energy to Yahoo, it is the corporate’s roughly 24 p.c stake in Alibaba which is been padding its base line.

Within the 1/3 quarter, for instance, Yahoo’s income from fairness pursuits – principally from its stakes in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan, respectively – have been just about $233 million .

That used to be greater than twice its quarterly running earnings of $ninety two.eight million.

Optimism over Alibaba has helped enhance Yahoo shares, which have surged greater than a hundred and sixty p.c on the grounds that Mayer arrived in July, 2012, in comparison with a fifty five p.c acquire within the broader Nasdaq Composite Index.

The corporate’s fairness investments have allowed Yahoo to speculate closely in product analysis at the same time as income has declined on Mayer’s watch.

Product bills leapt 23 p.c within the 1/3 quarter of 2013, in comparison with a year past, even whereas Yahoo’s earnings fell 5 %.

Mayer can have the funds for the funding – even whereas the corporate’s prime line slips — so long as Yahoo’s profitable stake in Alibaba retains padding its final analysis.

If Alibaba conducts an IPO as anticipated someday this year, many of the merit to Yahoo shareholders can even are available 2014.

When Yahoo offered its first massive chunk of Alibaba shares within the 0.33 quarter of 2012, as an example, it recorded internet earnings of $three.2 billion.

That used to be greater than 10 instances the revenue it recorded in remaining year’s 0.33 quarter.

If that sample holds, Yahoo’s revenue increase might face important headwinds in 2015 – as soon as the Alibaba halo starts to fade – if Mayer’s content material push would not improve the corporate’s advert income sufficient to offset its better prices.

John Shinal has lined tech and monetary markets for 15 years at Bloomberg Businessweek, San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch, Wall Boulevard Journal Digital Community and others.


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