The changes at Yahoo look to be building. After folding or merging a number of its digital magazines on Wednesday, Yahoo today shared plans that seem to take seriously its path toward a possible sale.
The beleaguered tech company shared that its board of directors had formed a strategic review committee of independent directors to explore “strategic alternatives” in addition to its consideration of a “reverse spin” — something to which chief executive officer Marissa Mayer alluded in an earlier call with investors.
Yahoo’s review committee includes representatives from Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and PJT Partners Inc. (as financial advisers), and Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP (legal adviser). The goal, according to a Yahoo post, was to recommend to the board whether any proposed transaction is in the best interests of the company and its shareholders — in other words, whether Yahoo should sell its core business, as many investors have suggested.
“It is clear the company is continuing to respond to our calls for change with its expressed commitment to trimming its workforce and forming a committee to explore strategic alternatives,” said activist investors SpringOwl Asset Management, which has called for Mayer’s resignation, in a statement. “We will continue to advocate for change and support moves by the company that will result in a higher stock price and create value for all shareholders.”
Yahoo board chairman Maynard Webb said the board was committed to exploring alternatives “while simultaneously supporting management and the employees in their implementation of Yahoo’s strategic plan.”
Mayer, for her part, emphasized that separating Yahoo’s Alibaba stake from Yahoo’s operating business was essential and offered, “As both shareholders and employees, all of us here at Yahoo want to return this iconic company to greatness. We can best achieve this by working with the committee to pursue various strategic alternatives while, in parallel, aggressively executing our strategic plan to strengthen our growth businesses and improve efficiency and profitability.”
On Wednesday, global editor in chief Martha Nelson expanded on the “simplification” of its digital magazines. Yahoo will close Yahoo Food, Yahoo Health, Yahoo Parenting, Yahoo Makers, Yahoo Travel, Yahoo Autos and Yahoo Real Estate and focus on News, Sports, Finance and Lifestyle. Yahoo’s Tech vertical has been folded under Yahoo News. The closures resulted in job cuts and the departure of several high-profile contributors Yahoo had recruited, including makeup artist Bobbi Brown. Joe Zee, who ran the site’s Fashion vertical, is remaining, however.
But it looks like the closures might not be enough. In the fourth quarter of 2015, Yahoo lost $4.3 billion, on revenue of $1.27 billion. The company was down 10 percent in the number of paid clicks and down 7 percent in search click-driven revenue in the fourth quarter, compared with a year earlier.