‘Do You Yahoo!’? 

by Ben Bolt

Published: April, 2016

So, I confess to being old enough to remember the ‘Do You Yahoo!’ television adverts of the 1990s… A certain comb over look that was replaced by a not insubstantial afro wig, a talking dolphin – ring any bells?Regardless, for many of us Yahoo! was the place where we started our online adventures.


Yahoo! has been in the news again recently with activist hedge fund investor Starboard Value calling for a board upheavaland a change in strategy following pressure to reverse the decision to sell off its stake in China based e-tailing giant Alibaba in favour of spinning off its core internet business.


So how has Yahoo! gone from having a circa 40% share of the Search Engine market at the turn of the century to today having around a tenth of this (around 4%) across desktop, tablet and console combined?


Of course Yahoo! had a pretty ambitious competitor in Google which was well funded and, dare I say it, well managed.Yahoo! is an example of what can go wrong when a business embarks upon a strategy of making acquisitions… You see the point I am making is that Yahoo!justmade acquisitions which often did not fit into an overall strategy, were not appropriately integrated or indeed empowered and were often of the “me too” variety.Yahoo! made a total of 114 acquisitions in 18 years including 19 in 2014 alone, in businesses as diverse as clothing, e-commerce, virtual gaming, technical recruitment and online video advertising.


So there we have it.Yahoo! remains a substantial organisation; one of the world’s largest web portals with services such as Tumblr and Yahoo News, but the harsh reality is that, according to brokers, Alibaba makes up around 75% of its market capitalisation.The moral of the story is clear – before embarking on a series of acquisitions, be sure to know where you are trying to get to, not everyone will be fortunate enough to uncover the treasures hidden within the 40 thieves’ den.


 

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