back to article Activist investors want tepid Yahoo! to reboot crashed Marissa Mayer

Activist investors Starboard have joined calls for a management overhaul at Yahoo!, arguing the company is hemorrhaging cash under its leadership. In a letter to the company's board (PDF), the investors note that the past year has been "extremely frustrating" for shareholders, which has seen a "continued downward spiral of the …

  1. lafnlab


    It reminds me of the old saying/complaint "I cut it twice and it's still too short." Yahoo's shareholders apparently think "We've tried {x} CEOs, and we're still not profitable." Maybe they should adjust their expectations or invest their money elsewhere.

  2. Mikel

    Check the expiration on the nog

    When a business article about Yahoo descends into etymology and indiscreet MLP fan fiction involving the CEO at this time of year, it's time to check the date on that eggnog. It may have gone bad. Hangover face may result.

  3. Mike Moyle

    Typical vulture* capitalists...

    "The company must 'deeply reduce unnecessary costs', flog its unprofitable businesses, and overhaul its incentives and compensation programs, it said."

    i.e.: "Screw the employees; WE'RE the only ones who should get paid!"

    * No offense intended to Vultures, Central or otherwise!

    1. Kernel

      Re: Typical vulture* capitalists...

      It's not that those of us that choose to invest some of our hard-earned in companies think we're the only ones that should get paid, but more that we think we are entitled to a good return on our money - otherwise why take the risk of investing in a company at all?

      Do I need to point out what happens to those same employees if no-one invests - I thought not.

      1. geekguy

        Re: Typical vulture* capitalists...

        Investing in companies is like playing cards in Vegas. It's got slightly better odds but it is definitely a game of skill AND luck. The CEO of yahoo is not a muppet, she came from an extremely successful company and was one of the founders of that company.

        She knows how to make things work. Perhaps the fact that multiple CEOs have been unable to stop Yahoos decline says something more about their market positioning and brand rather than the actual product.

        This sort of change takes many years to happen perhaps they, the investors, should withdraw their money if they expect it to be a steady income stream before market and product realignment are complete.

  4. frank ly

    You see the subheading for the article on data migration

    "How do you move a 500lb gorilla? Gingerly."

    Is this related?

  5. Anonymous Vulture

    Feaguing Yahoo!

    "To feague a horse; to put ginger up a horse’s fundament, and formerly, as it is said, a live eel, to make him lively and carry his tail well"

    First off, I think El Reg needs to anticipate a call from the Animal Welfare League for resurrecting this concept. Moving on...

    First we have to consider the source. Starboard Value LP was founded in 2011. It has not exactly performed well since. Most recent quarter ending 30 September 2015 it was up approximately 1%. When investing in such stocks as DRI (down 12% since 30 September) that is to be expected. My suspicion is some of this noise is to distract from lackluster performance.

    Yahoo was not a sound investment for anyone looking for an immediate profit when Mayer became CEO in 2012. There were two choices at the time: strip the company down for sale, including the 24% stake in Alibaba, or try and turn it around over a minimum of five years. The global economy still being significantly stalled in 2012 drove the choice to trying a turnaround.

    Anyone who remained invested in Yahoo at that point should have been aware this was a boom/bust proposition. Either the turnaround was going to succeed or there was going to be a fire sale when it failed. My opinion is that the outcome is yet to be determined. Changing management yet again will only increase the chances of a fire sale. Place your bets and take your chances, but do not try and feague the horse with a stick of dynamite when it still has a chance to win the race.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Feaguing Yahoo!

      I think El Reg needs to anticipate a call from the Animal Welfare League for resurrecting this concept.

      Indeed so. What a terrible thing to inflict on a live eel.

  6. Ashton Black

    Ya Who?

    Oh are they still a thing?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ya Who?

      Yeah, they got rid of all the interesting parts of their business, or just let them stagnate until other offerings were universally better, then wondered why nobody uses them any more.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    > to put ginger up a horse’s fundament, and formerly, as it is said, a live eel,


    People really did this?

    Stuffing a live eel up a horse's arse to make the tail lift up a bit?

    1. Robert Helpmann??

      What do you mean "did"?

      People really did this?

      I looked up the word before getting to the bottom of the article. It would seem that this will always be a concern. Horses are checked for gingering when participating in shows today. Sorry

  8. Evil Auditor Silver badge


    One of the few occasions when I had to enquire a dictionary to understand the headline. Before I've read the article. And, to be honest, still not sure if I fully understand it.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I've heard of ginger/pepper but never live eels, suddenly I'm not looking forward to meeting friends at the sushi place tonight

  10. Youngone Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    A Yahoo! spokesperson said the web biz "will Blah Blah Blah, buzzword buzzword buzzword. Now push off and let us get on with ruining this business."

  11. Barbarian At the Gates

    Yahoo! seems to be in one of the hardest parts of a company's lifespan

    Sometimes, the purpose or utility of a company has come to an end. Yahoo! may be there. If so, then, well...the company possibly needs to be ended, and stakeholders would prefer that to be done in a way that makes them filthy rich. Which, I can't blame them for, I'd rather end up filthy rich rather than just filthy.

    The tough part is that the people that work for the company, which is currently providing them with their livelihood...they won't end up filthy rich if the company ends, and they depend on the money coming in from working at said company to maintain their current lifestyle. And I can't imagine that anyone wants to unemploy themselves.

    So, attempt to reinvent yourself, company. Sadly, your odds probably aren't a lot better than a from scratch startup at succeeding at that new venture(s). Sure, you probably have actual money coming in to spend on making yourself a new company, but you're public, and that means you've got a lot of cooks in your kitchen that want results now, not tomorrow or next decade...

  12. JLV

    but... but...

    All of this was supposed to be fixed by removing all those pesky remote workers who sap productivity and morale. Whatever happened, Mrs. M.?

    To be fair, not sure what can be done at this point, or several years back already. A quick glance at their homepage, which I hadn't visited for years, and I find it looks very much like a 2010-vintage trashy 'news' site.

    I don't think they can even get $ from outbrain, taboola or the like, because their main page already looks like it was composed by those fine fellows. Even has a sponsored story for "speeding up your slow computer".

    I think the investors should have really pushed back a few years back when its founder nixed a selloff. Now the horse isn't so much out the door as over the cliff a few miles away and well covered with flies. Not sure Mrs Mayer could have done any better (or worse). After all, Alta Vista got put out of biz by Google et all and it was, IMHO, a much better resource than yahoo ever was for finding things.

    1. Captain Dallas

      Re: but... but...

      Guess all those 'Watercooler conversations' that office-based working was going to generate didn't amount to very much then?

  13. Turtle

    Exactly The Kind Of People You'd Expect.

    "...hedge fund SpringOwl Asset Management, [...] sent a 99-page letter to the company's CEO Marissa Mayer arguing for her to be ousted"

    If I understand this correctly, SpringOwl Ass. Man. sent a letter to... Marissa Mayer, urging her to fire... Marissa Mayer?

    Good luck with that.

    But if they did send such a letter, then SpringOwl Ass. Man. would seem to be exactly the kind of people that you'd have expected to invest in Yahoo in the first place.

  14. drand

    New Reg...

    RIP! the! predictable! Yahoo! article! headline!

    It looks like you're sticking to your new year's resolution. Have a biscuit.

  15. Fihart

    Fix Yahoo Mail

    Then worry about investors. Service is frequently slow and mails have a habit of shedding attachments.

    Sure ways to drive users out of the door.

  16. TheDillinquent

    Remind me again, what is Yahoo! for!

    The only place I ever encounter Yahoo! these days is when my mum asks me to get rid of the toolbar that has installed itself in her browser because she missed the opt-out in a software update.

  17. x 7

    it seems my post re Ms Meyer has been censored. Apparently it seems we need to treat her gingerly. Apologies

  18. Charles Manning

    So the 9 degree ! tilt didn't work....

    Hey Marissa, show some more of your leadership genius. Maybe 11 degrees will work better.

    Seriously, any investor that got dicknapped by Marissa deserves all they get. Any differences she made were short term and investors should have grabbed the money and run.

    When she cut the sort of employee benefits that good employees like, it was obvious all the good employees would leave. That leaves you with the dregs that can't get a job elsewhere. Yup, sure there would have been some who rode it out for stock options, but they've have cashed those in as soon as they could.

  19. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Let's face it - Yahoo! is dead. The only thing that kept it moving along the past years is their share in Alibaba. Which will be cashed in soon, and Mayer can try her hand at writing bad vampire books. No, wait...

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