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More acquisitions by Yahoo!

Ajit Deshpande - - 0 Comments

Yahoo announced three acquisitions last week, to go with 14 earlier acquisitions made by the company since Marissa Mayer took over as CEO in the second half of 2012. Last week’s acquisitions were of inbox and address-book management startup Xobni for ~$48 million, iOS movie creation app Qwiki for ~$50 million, and one-person fantasy sports app shop Bignoggins Productions for an undisclosed amount. Each of Yahoo’s 17 recent acquisitions, with the exception of Tumblr, is in the 0 to 60 million dollar range and seems to have been made mainly for the talent. For context, Yahoo did a total of 13 acquisitions in the four years preceding Marissa Mayer.

It has been surmised by analysts that while Google is about search, and Facebook is about the social graph, Yahoo under Marissa Mayer wants to be about the consumer’s daily-life activities. Yahoo’s recent acquisitions are consistent with this strategy, covering aspects such as productivity, image and video sharing, content aggregation, interaction, gaming etc. But the question still remains as to whether a company with Yahoo’s broad range of websites and recent history of turmoil can successfully acquire its way into relevance. According to comScore, Yahoo’s erstwhile crown jewel, its homepage, has remained flat in terms of visitor uniques over the past year and a half, and without a growth engine driving the rest of the sites in its portfolio, Yahoo can at best become a conglomerate of many moderately valuable assets (AOL comes to mind as an analogy). Except that, as opposed to a true conglomerate, Yahoo has it’s sites all joined together at the hip by the need to cross-sell display ads (whether web or mobile). Adding talent at small scale thus may not really change the core DNA of the company. As such, a new crown jewel – something of the magnitude of a Dropbox for example – may be the need of the hour for Yahoo. Until then, Yahoo will continue to be in the news, but its stock price will continue to be determined more by Alibaba and Yahoo Japan than by its own activities in the marketplace. Now, if Marissa Mayer can help Yahoo acquire or build in-house something of the scale of Dropbox, then *that* will represent one extraordinary turnaround story!

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