Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Verizon Sells AOL and Yahoo to Apollo for $5B (nytimes.com)
308 points by mishftw 11 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 354 comments





I'm really surprised that Yahoo Finance has not been spun out as an independent company at this point. I think as a stand-alone company it could easily be worth in the billions of dollars.

Reportedly Yahoo Finance has revenue between $100M and $250M annually. With the increase in retail interest in investing it seems like a property that could have some growth potential behind it if they did things right and separate from Verizon.


I'm surprised Twitter hasn't been interested in Yahoo Finance and Yahoo sports apps. The onboarding into Twitter, integration with tweets would be worth billions. A lot of "regular people" use those apps, and Twitter investors are looking for the user growth. Also, if Twitter is going to become a platform for interests/topics, it would be good to have a couple of standalone apps on some core topics.

My off the wall suggestion would be for Coinbase to acquire them. They certainly have enough firepower to do a stock acquisition.

The Yahoo Finance portal would run as a subsidized loss leader to on-ramp new customers into crypto investing. Setting up the portal to put crypto assets on the same footing as traditional assets would do a lot to appeal to older or more conservative investors who view crypto as "magic Internet money".

Plus a lot of people are interested but have no idea how to acquire crypto assets. People are used to being able to see all their assets on their favorite brokerage's platform. Yahoo could set it up so that if someone looks up a chart for DOGE-USD, that they have a one-click opportunity to buy it off Coinbase's exchange.


Just FYI, 'conservative investors' do understand crypto, they just think it's a bad investment.

I doubt that you can make that as a blanket statement, either. There are probably plenty of conservative investors who do include some cryptos as part of a well-balanced asset allocation. It is, after all, starting to make plenty of inroads into the mainstream financial industry.

What you don't see much of is conservative investors who are super hot on crypto. Not necessarily because of anything about crypto, per se, so much as because part of being a conservative investor is that you don't really get super hot on anything.


Yes, one must also include some powerball tickets and horse racing bets for a truly well balanced portfolio.

Also: beanie babies.

I would say 95% of investors don't understand crypto, whether they have high or low risk tolerance. But high risk tolerance investors are more likely to invest in something that has momentum without understanding the fundamentals. Betting with the momentum is often a good strategy.

Change that to "95% of crypto investors don't understand crypto" and you've got it.

Betting with the momentum works unless (A) you're a latecomer to a ponzi scheme, or (B) there's a reversion that catalyzes longstanding doubt about an asset that has enjoyed a bull run. Both of these cases may well be applicable to a large portion of the overall crypto marketplace.


More simply: "Betting with the momentum works until it tanks."

Or (C) you don't have a crystal ball that tells you when to get out before the inevitable collapse.

Tell that to investors in Fitbit or Palantir (for example) before they sold off after having good "momentum". Crypto investors don't even understand crypto, but that doesn't mean anything, because you can be left holding a long term bag whether you understand the underlying asset or not.

If you actually understand a "momentum" asset, you will definitely not be left holding the bag.

If you actually understand "investing" you will understand that you can't beat the indexes and are doomed to failure by trying to use "momentum" to do anything other than lose money.

Please elaborate?

"Momentum" is bullshit reasoning to buy anything as volatile as crypto. The only reason investors struggle with crypto is because it has no "fundamentals" to analyze.

Is Munger a "conservative investor". Here is what he said recently.

https://finance.yahoo.com/video/charlie-munger-crypto-whole-...


A good number of them think the covid vacciene has micro chip tracking and you want me to beleive they understand crypto?

Certainly not all of them. Edit - do you not consider Warren Buffet a conservative investor?

It doesn't seem like he's invested in any crypto directly. He has investments in some fintech, but as far as I can tell those aren't in any companies where crypto is the main component of their business plan. It's also important to distinguish between his opinions on the potential of distribute ledger technology vs. crypto currencies themselves. You can have the first without the second.

There are also levels of conservatism: Buffet still takes risks. In any given year, there's a possibility that he loses money, even if he's amazing in the long term. This is very far from the extreme end of conservative investing where, for example, someone 2-3 years away from retirement shifts all of their investments into a low-yield guaranteed return investment to ensure that a temporary downturn in the economy doesn't wreck their ability to retire.


Do you think Warren Buffett doesn't understand crypto from the standpoint of finance?

Warren Buffett has, on several occasions, stated that he does not understand cryptocurrencies.

I think he does and I think he's found a way to make money in crypto, even though he previously stated he thinks it will end badly

Or your definition of conservative is different from OP's.

Most people claiming they understand (risk, tradeoffs, market, actual adoption) cryptocurrencies are lying to themselves. It's easier to buy $KWEB than read an article written by Vitalik Buterin.

> Just FYI, 'conservative investors' do understand crypto, they just think it's a bad investment.

That statement is demonstrably false. There are two reasons to not be invested in cryptocurrencies at this point in history. You are either ignorant of the technology (which is fine, lots of more important knowledge out there), or it doesn't fit your current risk profile.

There is not a knowledgeable person on the planet who would say that any investment in any cryptocurrency is bad for all investors.


Or you simply don't believe in it. Which is a perfectly valid reason. Not everyone is just either ignorant or risk averse for crypto.

As an liberal investor, all crypto is a pump and dump scheme pushing magic internet money. But we've all seen this debate before.

if anyone pushes you on blockchain-anything or cryptocurrency, deliver unto them a kick to the groin, or a punch to the face, then run away. for you have been targeted by thieves.

edit: later I am proud to have been downvoted by blockchain bozos.


1. What's so bad about magic internet money?

2. What sectors are you invested in that are somehow immune to hype cycles?


It’s not that it’s hyped, it’s the large scale and empty essence of the hype. The essence is “it’ll go to 500k”. It’s an echo chamber of get rich for nothing excitement.

I use fin.yahoo quite a bit and if this were to occur I would quit using it full stop.

Yahoo Finance already tracks the cryptocurrencies. Has for ages. You can also integrate in exchanges to buy stocks, wouldn't be hard to add crypto to that. BTW, you can't buy DOGE-USD on Coinbase. Here it is in my wife's portfolio:

https://i.imgur.com/MZlE51m.png


"Portfolio", holding DOGE is about the same as holding lottery tickets.

Hey she wanted some for valentines day. It is up 8x right now, but yeah, it is a meme lottery ticket for sure.

I am not sure Yahoo finance is the right place for this kind of integration. If they were to integrate buy/sell and portfolio it would be more of a plaid style where you can connect your existing broker. You would lose a bunch of users who don't want to switch to coinbase. This is why i was thinking a media company would make sense for the media asset. It should be something more neutral.

> DOGE-USD, that they have a one-click opportunity to buy it off Coinbase's exchange.

nitpick: you cannot buy Doge off Coinbase even with 10,000 clicks.


>”magic Internet money”

>DOGE

Not really helping your case here


I love this idea. Thanks for sharing!

>Yahoo sports apps

I believe the Yahoo's suite of fantasy sports apps is second only to DraftKings in terms of market size and DraftKings' market cap is $22b. No reason that couldn't be spun off as its own company and be worth a $5b itself with the right leadership.


I looked this up. The top 2 are DraftKings and FanDuel. They have 90% marketshare. Yahoo is tied for 3rd.

I am guessing you are looking at daily fantasy sports and not fantasy sports in general. DraftKings and Fanduel do not have a 90% market share on the entire fantasy sports industry. I believe Yahoo still has the largest market share when it comes to traditional fantasy sports and has done a poor job translating that into success in DFS in which they are fighting for 3rd place. That is why I threw in the caveat "with the right leadership".

You're thinking share of users I think rather than share of revenue. But happy to be proven wrong with some other numbers.

Source? Just want to read about it myself.


However when doing that Twitter won't be "neutral" regarding news sources. That might reduce interest of other media to use them ...

Twitter already isn't neutral, considering the "trending" feed is editorialized and certain trends are suppressed and others boosted.

Twitter is a publisher. They have their fingers on the scale in both directions in multiple places.


I thought trending feed was based on metrics

Probably, yes. Also, it is very likely that any posts/trends that are not "desirable" are prevented manually from entering the trending feed as well.

"Cocaine" trends every Saturday early morning, leading me to believe nobody has their thumbs on that particular scale.

I think Twitter is OK with drugs and adult content being trendy, but not OK with politically incorrect ones. There has to be a manual approval process, but effectively invisible, because in my opinion, an automated and non-supervised system for trending is a recipe for the disaster.

[flagged]


Please don't break the site guidelines like this. If you have evidence of abuse, you should let us know at hn@ycombinator.com so we can investigate. If you have no specific evidence, then posts like this are not allowed. See https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html.

Yahoo Finance is so good that when I'm trying to find information about a company, I'll type the company's name into Google, do a bit of reading, then... go over to Yahoo Finance and manually type it in again to look at their stock performance.

It says something that someone as lazy as myself will actually hop out of Google's flow and perform a manual step to go Yahoo Finance.


Sigh. Remember when Google Finance was great with easily the best charting software and easy lookup of key stats for a company? Then they decided a couple years ago to destroy it for no reason. I wish I knew why they made this horrible decision.

Google seems to get tired of its own products very easily, and just kills them, even if they are popular.

Or makes them worse by "developing" them

Eg: Google Chrome on Android


I really wish there was incentive to have products be "done". It seems that so many products get to a great state and then get made worse over time because we need continuous growth (Evernote immediately comes to mind. Others seem to feel similar about 1Password) or in the case of Google, get shut down.

Yes indeed. I get Evernote but not 1Password. The issue with Evernote for me was it kept getting slower and they lost me when they changed pricing, I felt they had lost their way and it was really easy to change note apps. I prefer simpler note apps today, even Google docs or Word. 1Password is good, the windows app could be better and browser integration is a pain but it’s solid.

> I really wish there was incentive to have products be "done".

Easy, just use version numbers which asymptotically approach an irrational number, like Knuth's TeX (currently at version 3.14159...ish)

But seriously, the incentive to be "done" is when a lot of other software relies on your API or file format. This is why mozillans throw such a tantrum whenever anybody tries to use their rendering engine as part of some other piece of software. Getting to "done" isn't fun.


I think the first charting software was written by one talented javascript guy. I think he moved on and the next person did not want to touch the code. Which is the story of many Google services.

That's funny because the Google Finance charting software was famously Flash.

Yes, it really was quite perplexing. I imagine the "reason" was to make it more mobile-friendly or mobile-first or perhaps just to standardize their properties more. However, as you noted, it really degraded the product. I went from a daily user to an almost never user.

"mobile-friendly or mobile-first" seems to be a trend in quite a few companies, in the last few years. The main problem is, the completely ignore the desktop design, viewing it as an either-or proposition, for some, unknowable reason. While it's understandable that much traffic is mobile, during office hours, especially during work from home (which will probably - at least partially - be a continued trend moving forward), quite a bit of traffic will be from a desktop/laptop. Simply ignoring this market share seems to be a fools errand.

Ah but its not tech unless you're ignoring all but the most dominant market force

It probably wasn't a path to internal promotions any more :-)

Give it a year or 2, it'll be rebooted with a messaging feature

Nah,they’ll try to make it tiktok for stocks.

I mean, Yahoo finance has one and nobody gives them any shit about their abysmal policing.

I thought the reason was that it was written in Flash, and then browsers decided to stop supporting Flash.

Easily the best stock charting software. And they nuked it because _______?

One thing I do remember about Google Finance was that it required Flash for the longest time. That made me never use it.

Yahoo Finance is and always has been the best finance site. Mostly because they license all the additional data you really need to investigate a company and Google was never into that sort of thing.

I wonder if it would be a conflict of interest for a brokerage that focuses on retail investors like TD Ameritrade to buy the platform. Robinhood and the other upstarts are eating their lunch with UI improvements, but anyone who can type in a stock ticker has figured out Yahoo Finance over the last decade.

Isn't "Think Or Swim" already TD Ameritrade's Yahoo Finance killer? I'm not sure where there is a conflict of interest for a stock broker to supply analytics to their clients.

Conflict of interest in what sense?

You go there to look at charts? That's what Trading View is for.

What's "Trading View"?


I actually think their real opportunity is reviving Yahoo Messenger / AIM over the top of web sites. Similar to facebook chat functioning at the bottom/side of the screen while browsing facebook, if you are on Yahoo Finance, Fantasy, or any of the news sites, having chat overlayed. Opening Yahoo News to get to chat. It creates this cyclical feedback loop of opening news to get to chat, and opening chat to get to news.

Obviously with desktop no longer being the dominant market, this might not work everywhere, but Yahoo Finance + Yahoo Messenger was at one point the intercom of Wall Street.

And if there was ANYTHING worth reviving from this entire blob, it would be Yahoo Pipes!

I'm also shocked Microsoft wouldnt want a hand in cleaning this up. Migrate Yahoo Mail and AOL Mail into exchange like they did Hotmail. Another stab at the Adtech market, of which they are already partners with this beast. Buy this company and sell the news/dialup divisions. Relaunch AIM and Yahoo Messenger as Skype clients with Yellow / Purple skins, and cross communication. It's not uncommon to sell identical products under different brand badges.


> I actually think their real opportunity is reviving Yahoo Messenger / AIM over the top of web sites.

YM! at least has been killed. They've migrated the service and one day I received a notification that all my contacts and the message archive would be deleted.


AIM was killed as well.

Verizon killed commenting on the news section last year, so I doubt they would be interested in revising the instant messaging functionality of YIM... Maybe the new owners might take this route, it remains to be seen.

I'm really surprised that Yahoo Finance has not been spun out as an independent company

I'm sure Apollo Management can't wait to do this.


That and their fanatsy sports platform as well. I don't know the numbers at all, but its the de-facto platform for a large portion of fantasy sports. If they made moves into the DFS space I think they would do even better.

They did. Yahoo!’s DFS product is a dismal failure.

Hey Ben, just curious where you found the $100M-$250M annual revenue number? It sounds about right to me (looking at traffic numbers and estimated CPMs / conversion to Yahoo Premium), but I've dug for a concrete figure in Verizon's annual reports and never surfaced anything.

It's intermittently posted around the web from time-to-time. There's an anonymous answer from a Yahoo employee on Quora here from 2015 that says $150M: https://www.quora.com/How-much-money-does-Yahoo-Finance-make

It isn't formally broken our in any filings though as far as I know.


Is that revenue from ad impressions? They did $1.3bn in their last public quarter, and in that earnings report they lump it in with homepage and sports in the one place it's mentioned, so I don't think it's particularly important (to them).

Also, what does it do that retail brokers don't offer better and for free now? News aggregation?


> Also, what does it do that retail brokers don't offer better and for free now? News aggregation?

A lot of it is about presentation.

Brokers may "have" the same info as Yahoo Finance or finviz, but if you have to dig through ten pages to get to it and or their charts look like a 1990s website, there's still room.

A lot of more serious investors find themselves paying out of pocket for trading tools like stockcharts/tradingview/finviz/Y!F Plus, because these tools help them be more productive because actual thought and care has gone into the products.

But this is the reason why Bloomberg Terminals are worth $20K/year/seat. On paper, you can find a lot of the same info online for free, but the interface itself is a huge value-add.


Yahoo Finance Premium is a low rent version of Bloomberg Terminal. For $35/month you can get close to Bloomberg level data. Bloomberg Terminal costs $1,900 per month.

Totally agree. Thought this for years. Consider that YCharts licensing fees are around $4K per year per customer for their paid products - that could have been an amazing business for that division.

But boardrooms aren't known for their innovation. You'll score more points in that environment pointing out potential risks. Suggesting a risky, innovative approach is not a great strategy if all you care about is tenure on a board.

Most innovation happens in hungrier environments.


There that horrible feeling when sometimes you search for a stock on Yahoo finance and it sends you out into the regular Yahoo search. WTF.

That market is quite busy, though.

I recently dropped the premium fin.yahoo for a paid simplywall.st account. During my research I found many alternatives. Even my broker has all the data that fin.yahoo offers.


> For Apollo, it’s an opportunity to further invest in the digital media space — an industry it has already put money behind with deals for Shutterfly, Rackspace and Cox Media.

Cox Media was my first employer (it was called Cox Interactive Media at the time), Verizon Media, my current employer.

At the time, I was on the team that ran CIM's web farm which hosted the web presence for all of Cox Enterprises' newspapers, TV, and radio stations. It was a couple dozen Sun Ultras with content on NetApp filers.

We ran the farm from Atlanta and connected to it over frame relay. We were colo'd in a datacenter in Sunnyvale. We were a few racks. Yahoo had a presence in the same DC. It was a room or two, PC's running FreeBSD and also quite a few NetApps.

The biggest spike in traffic we ever saw was when the Starr Report was released.

A couple years later, I was working for Loudcloud, now living in Sunnyvale. Visiting another datacenter, I recall seeing a bunch of exposed motherboards mounted in racks on simple trays. It was an early Google presence:

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Google%E2%80%99s_Fir...

Today, I work as part of the mobile tools team for Verizon Media. The product I'm responsible for is hosted in a combination of AWS and Verizon Media datacenters.

In some ways, there's been a lot of changes over the years, but in other ways, not so much.

What I used to run on Solaris, today I run on Linux, sometimes on a VM or in a container, but sometimes still on a dedicated server. What I used to code in Shell or Perl or C or Java, today I code in Shell or Python or C or Java or Go or JavaScript. What I used to package into RPMs, today I package into docker images. Databases are still databases. SQL is still SQL. Application servers and web servers are still application servers and web servers. The web is still the web. Input still can't be trusted. Buffers still overflow. Applications still crash.

Same shit, different day.


>I recall seeing a bunch of exposed motherboards mounted in racks on simple trays. It was an early Google presence:

sidenote: Despite the appearance those werent random consumer motherboards. Supermicro P6SBM.


love this perspective! thank you for sharing your experience across the changing (or not-so-changing!) web landscape!

"My name is AOL Time Warner, king of kings. Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair." Nothing beside remains.

There's two dead companies in that title, and the only live one owns content.

Fair point: in a rapidly shifting marketplace, owning the well / mine is the best bet.


Didn't you, historically, want to be the person selling shovels?

Depends.

If you won big on a gold/oil/internet strike you were much, much better off buying as many shovels you could at any price and mining for all you were worth.

Selling shovels is a reliable, lower risk business for a while. But Sun/SGI/Cray/Dell/Nortel/etc show the risks that come with relying on shovel income.


Depends on how close you were to the 1800s -- widespread steam power & hydraulic mining.

Mining shovels became worthless. People who owned exploitable resources continued to make money. (Also, denim)


It's a figure of speech. "Shovels" being the tools, e.g. shovels, hydraulic equipment, etc.

Point being that "shovels" change. Everyone always wants water or gold.

Is that Cisco or Sun in this analogy?

As a reminder, it's AOL who bought Time Warner. Still blows my mind.

Hey, didn’t you know “This next evolution of Yahoo will be the most thrilling yet”.

Hey come on that's unfair, the jokes on that one will forever remain in the history books

From the article:

…“it agreed to sell Yahoo and AOL to the private equity firm Apollo Global Management for $5 billion.”

They apparently paid $4.4 billion for AOL, and Yahoo they got for $4.48 billion.

I have to say: only losing $5 billion while handling the decaying corpses of AOL and Yahoo is, weirdly, kind of a triumph. These are cursed properties, and bring only despair.

Though I’m surprised they didn’t try to keep ahold of the sports bits of Yahoo, which are seemingly popular. (Perhaps that’s why they even managed to get $5 billion for…what does AOL do?)


Doubtful that they lost money. The company has probably returned some profit over all these years. They got a huge tax benefit from the 2018 write-off, $1BN from selling the Yahoo buildings to Google, and now $5BN from selling 90% of it.

That reminds me of the movie Frequency, in which the characters can use a ham radio to talk across time. A person from the future gives a cryptic hint to the person in the past by telling him to pay attention to "yahoo". In the ending scene of the movie, the younger man's fancy car bears a license plate with that name.

It's funny to think that Yahoo was once thought of as an amazing stock tip to give someone. The movie came out in 2000 and was presumably written/filmed 1-2 years prior.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frequency_(2000_film)


I'm also reminded of the famous line from You've Got Mail where the older lady bought Intel at $6.

https://smithhousedesign.com/18-years-later-10-ironic-things...

“I am very rich. I bought Intel at $6.”

Lots of gems in that whole article.


Maybe the advice from the future was to stay away from it?

AOL has adtech advertisers setup with some large customer base probably 3rd or 4th to Google/Facebook. It also owns publishers like HuffPost, TechCrunch etc.

I think Verizon Media is 5th after the big two, Amazon, Microsoft. Unless LinkedIn is separate from Microsoft.

Amazon is smaller than Verizon Media in this space. Microsoft and Verizon Media are not independent - Microsoft handles Verizon's search ads, Verizon handles ads on other Microsoft properties: https://about.ads.microsoft.com/en-us/solutions/ad-products/...

That said, single market players like TheTradeDesk or Xandr are larger in their own markets than verizon media, but probably not compared to the combined publisher and advertiser business: https://www.atlantic.net/vps-hosting/top-10-dsp-providers/


Ah interesting. Yeah, I’m not sure how a full proper ranking or comparison for digital ad market would be done. There’s lot of ad networks including the DSP list. Ad spend perhaps? Most of the major sites or apps that are only for their own property don’t include outside ads. I’m thinking LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snap, Twitter, Reddit, Yelp. I’m not certain on all of this though. Chumbox ads (Taboola, etc) have proliferated to a whole range of sites including top ones by now too.

But then IAC, Verizon Media’s biggest properties, would be a mix of different things.


Well when your large customer base leads you to a $5 billion writedown and a public confession that Google and Facebook are eating your lunch…

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2018/12/12/verizon...

…color me skeptical that there’s a bright future there.


They had good customer base initially. AOL has done so many acquisitions for like Adaptv(video advertising platform), Millenial Media(mobile advertising) etc which were pretty successful. Later ofcourse Yahoo. Failure started coz they platform integration plan didn't work as expected. Lot of talent from the acquisitions left. They still use lot of old tech setup for advertising, web platforms. In summary, they failed in making a single platform from acquisitions they had.

Writing off $5B means a ton of money for Verizon. Right there we can see they already didn’t actually lose half of their investment spend.

Most people’s lunch is being eaten by the big two. Snap had to go with a different ads biz model to not directly compete with the big two.

It doesn’t stop Verizon Media, now Yahoo, from being the 5th or 6th biggest ad[tech] and online ads business. I’m hedging 6th in case there’s some one else between Microsoft and Amazon.


HuffPost was sold to Business Insider in 2020.

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/buzzfeed-to-acquire-huffpost_...


Aah..my bad..I missed that..but that was vision(advertising + publishing) of AOL CEO Tim Armstrong..he was almost successful until Verizon acquisition and later Yahoo merger.

They didn’t lose that much money. The companies were profitable. They sold assets. If they lost money. It would be maybe $1B at most. I doubt that happened though. The tax write offs gave back a lot of money too.

I don't get how Apollo thinks they can make a profit from these zombie companies.

How long has it been since an acquisition of either one of those companies made the acquirer any money? More than a decade?


Apollo can be thought of as garbage disposal for tech companies.

They provide enough capital for a corporation to keep running while systematically stripping it down until only the most profitable core remains, then re-IPO'ing that husk of the company. Along the way, they make the most use of financialization to extract as much benefits as they can.

They serve a purpose in the ecosystem I guess. Its better than the company devolving into irrelevance or collapsing at once. Graceful termination means that everyone can wait for a ferry to take them away rather than jump ship.


Isn't Yahoo's value mostly their ownership stake in Alibaba?

That was not acquired by Verizon, but split off and sold. (Similarly shares in Yahoo! Japan)

Can someone help me understand this from an investment perspective? AOL and Yahoo were worth a combined $400 billion in the 90s. Was investing in either of those companies essentially a fail? Were all those investors wrong or did they somehow recoup their investment through dividends and such over the last 25 years to justify that market cap?

Currently the market is telling me that Facebook is a $900+ billion company. Will investors ever get $900 billion back?


The stockmarket is like a round robin thingy, putting it lightly.

All those who hold shares in FB, combined, are holding paper that is worth 900B. However, if even 10% of those wanted to sell their holdings at a time, the price would fall and the total holdings would be worth less for all.

Now, why are they holding the shares then? Two things come into play. Firstly, say 5 years down the line, the holders have confidence that FB will still be making money, be profitable and be on the market. Secondly, that five years down the line, there is someone else who is willing to pay for the shares at a premium of what they have originally purchased for. Now what about those who are buying 5 years down the line? They too must have confidence on FB that a further 5 years or more down the line, FB will be profitable and will be in the market and keep earning money. And so on and so forth.

So is FB really worth 900B, yes, if the holders keep holding it and FB keeps earning profits.

Can everyone get their worth from the shares? Not at once. Not in a hurry.


For highly valued tech stocks I’d add that there is some presumption that these companies will acquire or build their way into major new sources of revenue that throw off vast profits.

With tech this might be implicit if they are “profitable and still in the market.” But it is different than say John Deer or Miller Paint in that regard.


> The stockmarket is like a round robin thingy

Or perhaps a medieval wheel of fortune.

[1]: https://www.sciencephoto.com/media/539503/view/the-wheel-of-...


I was thinking like a game of musical chair. If you sit down too early to lose, but when the time comes, you better sell quick or you'll be left standing with nothing to show for it.

Like that kid with a billion dollars of crypto. If he ever tried to spend it, he'd crash the value.

In other words, the greater fool theory.

No, the opposite.

The value of a company in a fair market is a function of the confidence of investors that someone in the future will pay more for the same stock.

For a highly profitable company like Facebook, this isn't a foolish confidence in anyway. Even if you don't like Facebook it would be a very radical position to take to think that their profits next quarter will be remarkably lower than this quarter.

In greater fool theory, you know there is no reason the investment is going to increase in value. You are just hoping someone else is going to buy from you and accept that risk too.


Thinking like that is what drove AOL and Yahoo! to their peak valuations. It's not that the companies didn't produce something of value and have some level of earnings, it's that their stocks priced in a fantasy land future that could never be achieved. At some point, there will not be someone willing to pay more, or even the same amount, for the stock.

When you are counting on the 'confidence' of future investors to (over)pay more than you did for something, rather than any rational valuation, you are quite literally counting on a greater fool[1] being willing to buy it from you.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_fool_theory - note that it isn't always about an asset having no value, just that for an overpriced asset that there will be someone else willing to pay more for it.


Sure, one could argue that AOL and Yahoo were overvalued at their peak. They had low existing earnings and the price was supported by expectations of magical new profits.

But that's a difficult argument to make for Facebook. Facebook is highly profitable - they have averaged something like 80% gross profit margins for a decade[1] while sustaining significant revenue growth. That's pretty much guaranteed that their stock will continue to appreciate - with margins that high they have a lot of room to play with things to keep growth going.

What metric makes it look like that is a greater fool situation?

[1] https://www.reuters.com/companies/FB.O/key-metrics


I don’t think you can make an argument against the present valuation of FB on a historical performance basis.

Investors will tell you that historical performance does not guarantee future performance. It’s one yardstick, but it’s not always the best one.

Facebook’s historical revenue growth was catalyzed by environmental factors that are shifting underneath them.

In 2021, FB would not be allowed to acquire Instagram or WhatsApp. In 2021, Apple (custodians of their most valuable user base) is no longer cooperating with adware.

What does future revenue growth for a Facebook look like, who is not allowed to acquire upstart competitors, who is not allowed to extract maximum value from its mines, and who is facing regulatory scrutiny for past deeds?

Would you be willing to bet that $900B, or $300ish/share on $30 revenue/share have these uncertainties priced-in?

Yahoo! and AOL were dumpster fires in comparison, of course. But I wouldn’t be so certain that FB hasn’t passed its peak valuation, just because it has had a money printing machine for the past decade.


Despite all these technology challenges we love to discuss on HN, the truth is that last quarter every single metric except US/Canada daily FB users was up. Daily US/Canada users fell by ~0.5% but this was more than offset by a 1% growth in EU.

Their average revenue per user increased by the largest amount ever (in both absolute and percentage terms) last quarter.

In terms of technology challenges, the iOS changes will reduce FB's ability to target ads. However, it is quite possible this will lead to more revenue for FB because the market structure (ie, domination by FB and Google) means FB maybe able to pass on the loss inefficiency to advertisers.


Not really. The crucial piece is the future profit.

Right, but notice that wasn't the emphasis of the post I was responding to. OK, there was 1/2 a sentence that touched on profits as almost an afterthought.

The thing that sets me off about these threads is the (I believe sincere) thinking that 'well if that's the share price, it must be worth that much'. That's fine if you're speculating/trading but is absolutely wrong if you think what you're doing is investing.


> OK, there was 1/2 a sentence that touched on profits as almost an afterthought.

Are we reading different posts? The post you responded to repeatedly made the point that profits are one of the key builders of market confidence:

>> Firstly, say 5 years down the line, the holders have confidence that FB will still be making money, be profitable and be on the market.

...

>> They too must have confidence on FB that a further 5 years or more down the line, FB will be profitable and will be in the market and keep earning money.

...

>> So is FB really worth 900B, yes, if the holders keep holding it and FB keeps earning profits.

It's a key point of their argument!


Holding those names was an investment failure, as was holding the majority of tech names at that point in history. Trading those names, on the other hand could be lucrative. A friend of mine paid cash for his college education and his car by playing Hand, the maker of palm pilots.

Handspring?

Presumably.

I miss my Visor, tbh.


If people stop using Facebook products yes the investors will lose 900,000,000,000 dollars.

"This next evolution of Yahoo will be the most thrilling yet"

I'm very skeptical about that claim.


"thrilling" as in "causing great emotional or mental stimulation" could mean actually anything, like pondering where you could quickly move your decades of stored emails...

Especially since it's coming from the guy who just sold Yahoo, and he's not going with it.

Turn it back into a curated online directory :)

This would actually get me back to using Yahoo. I hope someone that can do it is reading this.


You should take into account the meaning of “thriller”.

Considering that that's the only part of the memo they quoted, I imagine the rest of it was even more vague.

A headline with 5G but not a single mention of it in the article.

If any insider from Verizon may be could help explain why their insistence on mmWave 5G for Phones. ( And Phone only, not fixed Wireless internet access ) It doesn't make sense to me when the spec (3GPP) were announced, doesn't make sense when Verizon actually announced it, and still doesn't make any sense when they are now up and running. Both from a technical and Economical perspective. It still baffles me.

Or are they only doing it for the marketing? ( Which is worst because Apple have to specifically make mmWave antenna for iPhone. Although I would not be surprised if they have something like 802.11ay planned using the same antenna R&D. )


The reason why they are heavily marketing their mmWave 5G is because they are charging an additional $10/mo/line for access and implying (falsely) that most folks with a modern phone will experience a much faster and lower latency connection at most times. In truth, consumers will only be able to connect to the mmWave network on a handful of outdoor street corners in a few metros - the frequency band (60GHz) does not effectively penetrate walls so you're not going to get it indoors.

"Oh, I like mobile gaming, I guess I'll upgrade" - and just like that someone is locked into an additional $120/line/year of spend for a service they will almost never use or benefit from.

So - mostly it's fraud.


I got the impression the primary use case for 60GHz was large sports stadia.

Yes - dense environments with good line-of-sight should work well for 60GHz (train stations, airports, concerts). Enormous channel capacity for a short, straight hop.

They have deployed a bunch of mm towers in the metros. LA went from a few blocks to having widespread coverage since last summer. Still not worth the extra $10 a month and the reduction on battery life. I have my 5G disabled. 5G ultra wide is only useful for home internet as a replacement for cable based internet.

5G allows for mmWave but does not require it. I have 5G in my area for Verizon but its mostly low band normal 4G frequencies. I have seen mmWave once at the fair grounds and it was nice hitting 1200MBps with tons of people streaming videos etc. otherwise it seems similar to 4G on low band.

The mmWave really shines in crowed areas like the fairground, stadiums, busy downtowns, shopping centers etc. but has poor penetration and range. Verizon looks to be wanting to use is for home broadband use as well with base stations mounted all around neighborhoods. I would imagine they see it replacing WiFi with easily provisioned access points in commercial business etc.

My understanding on low band is its a overlay on their 4G network for now so it works but has almost no benefit. There supposedly is benefits to the low band side such as lower latency and better spectrum sharing over 4G but it's unclear if that applies in an overlay scenario. Moving forward they will probably bring more low /medium bands on as 5G only, perhaps finally sunsetting their 3g network and refarming as 5g only.


>mmWave really shines in crowed areas like the fairground

Well it really doesn't. mmWave requires line of sight, get blocked by even a pcs of paper or your hand ( if you are actually blocking the antenna ).

It works in shopping centre in some cases, but that is only assuming shopping centre are actually willing to pay and built those out. Every additional cell, big or small requires additional maintenance and that is part of the reason why SmallCell in 4G never really took off. Its idea is nice ,implementation being ironed thought out in 4G and now even in 5G. But never really worked due to the business incentives. ( LTE-LAA or NR-U is a different story )

That is why, no Carrier in Asia and Europe actually plan to have mmWave for mobile. You may read some report on mmWave from certain countries, but all of them are for fixed wireless Internet. No carriers, in any of the industry forum or investor notes has actually put out a timeline for mmWave. EU put out mmWave Spectrum for auction and no one was interested.

So unless there are something specific to Verizon, may be it owns more property in US where mmWave unit economics woks out better for them, or something I oversee. I dont understand why they ran with it. ( Other than some mentioned, being able to charge additional $10/m for some small benefits )


Each G is supposed to be 10x faster and it needs to be at least 2x for customers to care and sub-6 just can't deliver that.

As with many things, 5g will be worth it once they stop marketing it.

A useful 5G network is much broader than what VZ currently has set up in the mmWave range (high-band, >6GHz, high-speed, low propagation)

Verizon's next 5G investment is to build out the mid-band portion of its 5G network, in the C-Band (mid-band, 3.7-3.98 GHz, good speed, good propagation)

VZ spent $54B on C-Band spectrum in March, then committed to spend an additional $10B over the next 3 years to deploy towers to use that spectrum, and that's above the $18B they had already planned on mid-band 5G CAPEX

VZ is taking on a lot of debt to build out the mid-band portion of its 5G network, and this sale will help them chip away at that huge mountain of debt


For the same reason Sprint went all in on WiMAX "4G" about ten years back: they think it gives them a value-add.

FWIW I'm bummed it didn't work out. I had a WiMax phone and even with the spotty coverage, back then (~2012?) my speeds were as good as my current broadband speeds (>200 Mbps) which was phenomenal for sprint. I even considered getting a dedicated WiMax internet provider at the time. Amazing how fast that came and went!

I had WiMax from Clearwire. It was really epic. The dongle on my laptop delivered speeds that weren't even available wired at the time. I used it in Seattle, Phoenix, Chicago, Newark, and a few other cities, and coverage wasn't bad at all.

The only difficulty was that it had a hard time penetrating buildings. In my apartments, I could get 1-2 Mbps anywhere. But if I moved the modem into a window it was more like 25-75 Mbps.

I hope that some day 5G will be as good as WiMax was.


I had one too and the enormous drawbacks of WiMAX became apparent: go deep enough into a building and the signal gets spotty fast. WiMAX may work well for fast wireless internet to thin-walled homes, but it just doesn't work as well as a mobile technology.

Makes sense. I only went into buildings with wifi so that may be why it always felt perfect for me.

The tech wasn't that bad. I mean WiMax is something like 80% if not 90% of what is TD-LTE today. Which Sprint is still using right now.

You can only blame Intel for WiMax Failure. Over Confidence, Over Hyped, poor delivery and at the time, nobody like them. I think it was 2008/9?


>A headline with 5G but not a single mention of it in the article.

There is.

>He added that Apollo would allow the business to grow, a more difficult prospect when it was operating within Verizon, which was planning to spend even more money to expand its next-generation 5G wireless network.


mmWave doesn’t penetrate glass or brick making it pretty useless as a wireline replacement. Unless you want to go through the trouble of mounting an antenna outside, assuming of course that you access to wall with direct line of sight to a 5G tower.

If this is true, how am I able to get 5G UW inside my car with the windows closed?

Its not true. Glass does attenuate mmWave frequencies, but doesnt "block" them.

https://esprtk.files.wordpress.com/2020/12/2004.12568.pdf


> A headline with 5G but not a single mention of it in the article.

Because: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27035599


mmWave is a tool to cope with network capacity concerns far into the future. It's in its infancy right now but the ability to provide multiple gigabits over the air in certain high-traffic locations can help greatly. We're running out of midband spectrum that can provide good indoor/outdoor coverage and so it's best to look to much higher frequencies that don't have any major incumbent users to satisfy those capacity needs.

Before people go all ballistic, please remember that yahoo and AOL make $700 million from Mail and a billion dollars from search. AOL sells huge number of paid dialup based email accounts(for older people though). So the sale price is approximately two years of revenue. Apollo is getting it cheap!

“AOL sells huge number of paid dialup based email accounts”

Do they really?

I am not being sarcastic. I cannot find a recent reference to this (everything seems to be from 2015), but given my experience getting my aunt away from AOL email: it seems horribly plausible.


> https://plans.aol.com/join?regtype=new

"If you're interested in purchasing a plan that includes dialup service, please call 1-800-827-6364 (Mon-Fri: 8am-12am ET; Sat: 8am-10pm ET)"

I would not be surprised to learn that they still have millions of dial-up customers & millions on the new non-dialup plans.


Is dial-up even usable nowadays considering how heavy webpages have become?

Ah, and here, a source!

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/03/aol-1point5-million-people-s...

As to dialup itself…

“The number of dial-up users is now “in the low thousands,” according to a person familiar with the matter.”

…but, yeah, it seems 1.5 million discerning customers are basically paying for AOL mail.

“There are about 1.5 million monthly customers paying $9.99 or $14.99 per month for AOL Advantage, said another person, who asked not to be named because the information is private.”

Which: nice business if you can get it.


You have to read financial reports of aol if you can get hold of it. AOL doesn't want this info to be too widely known. Then all the old people will realize they are paying $25 per month for something that they can get for free!

Or Verizon already knows tracking-based ads are not long for this world and got out before the adtech crash.

> Apollo is getting it cheap!

And Apollo will gut these entities for every dollar that they can.


That would be the best thing maybe some of them will have longer and better lives, finally escape being trapped.


This reminds me of the guy who traded a paper clip for a house... only in reverse. Every time these companies get traded, more gets added to the bundle and they sell for less money.

Soon it’ll be Yahoo & AOL sold for an NFT of an illustration of a pile of used AOL CDs.


I used to work at Aol, and it doesn’t surprise me that some significant number of people still use dial up. Not because they’re “trapped” but because that’s the only choice in some parts of the country. According to Pew, 3% of us are on dialup & more than twice that use no ISP (maybe that 7% just uses their mobile access?).

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/08/21/3-of-americ...

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/04/02/7-of-americ...

… I’m not sure, but it seems plausible that if 3% had to use dialup 100% of those are on Aol (who else offers dialup?). So there’s probably a lot of money to be milked from that cash cow; along with their other ad & publishing businesses.


I think it's incorrect to just associate AOL with dialup. AOL still exists as a web "portal" and more importantly as an email service.

My parents (90's) still use AOL email, and have done so for over 25 years now. They used to use dialup, but now are on high speed internet (cable), using just the web interface for the email.

For their sake at least, I hope it doesn't go away any time soon. It works for them very well.


Your 3% number is from 2013 though

I looked up the Census numbers last year, and for my county it's something like 17% of people have no internet access -at all-. Not at home. Not at work. Not even on a cell phone. And this isn't exactly the boonies. It's a county with over a million people in it.

Three percent of people being on dialup sounds low to me.


My first reaction is that this is really good for everyone.

For Verizon, as they aptly spun it, it allows them to focus on their core business. I'm not in Media or Telecom, but from the outside looking in, the synergies between those two segments aren't obvious.

For Yahoo / AOL / Verizon Advertising, these can be repackaged into sets of assets that "make sense" so that they may be sold to strategic buyers and ultimately have a better home than being the ugly duckling in Verizon's portfolio.

For Apollo, the benefits are obvious. There's probably lots of operational improvements to execute on, again due to the fact that Verizon was likely not really focused on these businesses. Presumably the fund will reap huge returns if they can deliver on these improvements and exit successfully and timely.

–––

EDIT: There is one more nuanced question I forgot to address: is this "really good" for the employees to? On an individual scale, probably not. I'm sure many people will be let go once Apollo is at the helm. But from a broader view, it is arguably "good" for everyone collective in the long run. Verizon really can't do much with the asset, so the alternative to selling is letting it wither away in the hopes of some miracle, with the more likely outcome being that Yahoo and AOL would become even worse shadows of their former selves with each passing day.

Eventually people would be let go anyway and those businesses could be shut down unless some miracle strategic buyer (i.e. not a private equity owner) came along and bought them. But most strategic buyers are not comfortable buying bad operations and turning them around. They find it too risky, so that's usually a job left to financial sponsors like Apollo who are built for that. In fact, these days most PEs are not even interested in turning operations around because they also find it too risky—and sponsors learned they can make more than enough money by just being great at finding sub-scale / non-core assets, putting them together in a "platform" and selling them to another sponsor or exiting through an IPO.


Do you really believe Apollo won’t gut up Yahoo and AOL or some other situation where any leftover spirit of the entities isn’t mostly gone? This is better than remaining with Verizon since they don’t want to deal with such small stuff. Here’s hoping things end up better for assets.

No othey are going to leverage traffic into gambling assets. They don't want to gut the product. They will invest.

Define "gut up". Why would Apollo want to destroy the asset they just bought?

The same reason a scrapyard buys broken cars?

Or maybe Apollo bought this in the same way some people buy fixer-uppers and flip them?

Analogies are great for illustration, but not for arguments. They don't really prove anything.


Venture Capital firms love to use throw debt at an asset so that they can have a cash windfall. The result is that the assets can never pay off the debt and end up declaring bankruptcy. See K-Mart, Sears, Toys R' Us, and anything that a vulture capitalist touches.

Venture Capital firms are early stage private investors. They don't do LBOs with dying companies, since that would naturally be a late stage investment. You're probably thinking of private equity.

Your view of how LBOs work is really misinformed. You picked 3 famous PE deals that failed, but those are exceptions.

Apollo alone has done 150 private equity transactions, the vast majority of which have been tremendously successful otherwise investors would not be giving them more money to continue to invest.


A lot of PE follows a well-understood playbook. Buy a player in a settled industry, cut costs (== reduce maintenance, make the workforce cost less, etc.) and milk it for as long as possible.

That tends to work for investors; customers and employees, well.

The Artist Formerly Known as SolarWinds is PE owned.


They don't milk it for as long as possible. In fact, they exit the investment in 3-5 years. Anything longer and their IRR dwindles fast.

"As long as profitable" is basically the same thing when talking about a FPE, but if you like those words better, fine.

Successful from the point of the PE firm is not the same as successful from the point of view of the acquired company

It is if the alternative is to be woefully out-competed.

Yes, but you're thinking of private equity.

I can’t find information on how Apollo Group runs it’s PE portfolio. I assume they will eliminate costs and merge businesses where it makes sense. The press release mentions brick and mortar opportunities but Apollo doesn’t own major brands outside of Sprouts and GNC. It sounds like another miss for Yahoo again.

I believe Apollo has a big stake in several casinos. Yahoo’s sports/fantasy data is probably their most valuable & viable site. The regulatory environment surrounding online gambling, sports gambling, and daily fantasy gambling in particular has been changing rapidly and, despite being well situated from a technology standpoint, Yahoo hasn’t made much of an effort to capitalize on it. I’m guessing Apollo plans to find a way for the Yahoo sports data to work with their casinos to get on the legalized gambling gravy train.

Yahoo employee here... AMA

Is Yahoo hiring? How's the pay? I think it'd be kind of fun to work for a zombie Web 1.0 giant in a weird sociological way. My first email address was @yahoo.com -- thank you for losing/forcibly deleting all my embarrassing teenage missives.

They are hiring (though I suspect this will make recruiting harder), pay is good. Not FAANG good, but Bay area good.

Even in FAANG the AAs pay less (depending on career level.)

Will Yahoo answers be coming back under the new ownership? (semi-serious question)

Doubt it

I've definitely noticed Verizon being more willing to deprecate old services in Yahoo/AOL/Oath over the last few years. Do you expect this to speed up (i.e. leadership was being conservative) or slow down (they were chopping too much/all the chopping should, in theory, be done)?

If it's not related to 5G, I would expect it to be.. less of a focus

What does it mean for something to be related to 5G? Actually related, or part of the "5G AI cloud" marketing buzzwords that don't seem to mean anything?

Quantum cyber blockchain will beat 5G AI cloud.

What does Yahoo do nowadays?

Lots of stuff.. Finance is huge, Mail, Sports, Techcrunch, Engadget... Plus the Edgecast CDN and video platform service (VDMS). Was honestly hoping Verizon would keep those so I wasn't lumped into the Apollo sale.

That was the most surprising part of this for me. Edgecast/VDMS would make more sense elsewhere than Apollo, like at .. Verizon, or Google.

Is Yahoo actually turning a profit, if so which service contribute the most?

Also, are there any stats explaining why so Yahoo still have so many daily visitors? Is it just result of having a ton of service and then the numbers afe bundled? It seems hard to understand that pages like Yahoo (or msn.com) would attract so many users as the Alexa ranking would suggest.


Comscore ranks Verizon's properties (basically Yahoo/AOL) as the #2 site on the internet as well.

https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Rankings


Comscore’s data collection relies on users installing their shady monitoring software - I imagine users who install such software are significantly more likely to have a yahoo email account. Same issue with Alexa ranks.

How do you feel about this whole thing?

I'm not going to stick around

They definitely squeezed a better deal than with the sale of Tumblr last year (which went for 3 mere millions)

At that price I’m surprised some crypto millionaire/billionaire or hell at this point an NFT artist didn’t just buy it as a joke, tokenize it and flip it for profit.

It may sound like a joke or sarcasm but it’s not, and I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if we see this AOL/Yahoo turn into some type of crypto play that can be marketed on the back of the old brands.


Maybe Apollo plans on meme-stonking YHOO?

I do get the feeling of an underlying crypto play marketed on the old brands AOL/Yahoo.

I didn’t even think about something as simple meme stonk. It may sound like sarcasm and a joke, but look at the meme stonks or Doge ($11B+ market cap)...sure the kids on tik tok might not know what yahoo or aol are/were but that actually makes them fresh to the new generation, mixed in with a little nostalgia from those slightly older that would love to jump on the next rocket going to the moon...it’s seriously just 1 Elon tweet from a doubling in value.


I don't know what "meme stonking" means, can you please direct me a bit as I don't get anything meaningful from Google?

See Reddit Wall Street Bets (WSB) for a sample of the culture, I think the most popular example would be the entire Game Stop debacle.

Lots of opinions on the matter but essentially, Wall Street players shorted the stock, “Main Street” day traders got wind of the play and pumped the stock (in one instance it would have resulted in loses in the billions of a single fund and probably bankrupted them), either that fund or a major investor of that fund is an investor in Robinhood which is an app used by a significant number of the main street option traders pumping game stop stock, Robinhood allegedly on the order of said investors/fund froze certain orders on game stop stock (and a few other meme stocks) for about 24-48 hours which sank the price of the stock and allowing Wall Street to minimize their losses and close their positions. Of course Robinhood has done what it could on their end to distance themself from the investor/fund and on more than one occasion made official statements why they stopped orders on the cherry picked stocks, basically falling on their own sword and more or less saying they were under funded and over leveraged.

You can sort of trace the recent crypto market pump to this event, as a result of Main Street throwing in the towel (right or wrong) because the collective acceptance market is rigged.


It's basically doing what happened to AMC and GameStop a couple of months ago

I suspect the true total cost was a fair bit higher due to a hosting arrangement. I'd imagine Tumblr remained on Yahoo bare metal servers for quite some time after the sale. If so, Automattic would have had to pay a significant monthly fee for this, given Tumblr's large infrastructure footprint.

That arrangement would have been quite appealing for Verizon, since by this time there was likely a surplus of aging bare metal servers in Yahoo's datacenters, and these would otherwise be difficult for Verizon to monetize.

disclosure: worked for Tumblr but left long before this sale and not directly familiar with any of the specifics of the deal


> I suspect the true total cost was a fair bit higher due to a hosting arrangement.

Untrue.

When the goal is to buy Blogger - a goal that is being progressed towards by Automattic - money saved on the Tumblr acquisition is useful.


Huh, OK. So you're saying the $3m price included the many months of continued hosting and bandwidth in Yahoo's datacenter? Quite a bad deal for Verizon if so, especially accounting for routine hardware maintenance.

Marco?

Huh? What about him?

I'm not Marco, if that's what you're asking? I post here with my full real name and have links in my HN profile...


> Verizon [...] combined [Yahoo] with AOL under the umbrella Oath.

Starting years of confusion for people searching oauth and making a typo.


I have my main mail domain linked to a yahoo mail address since 1997. If it goes down .. I'm seriously f**d.

Good. Large companies should not both be in both transmission and content. It's a conflict of interest. Remember the "zero rating" issue for cellular.

This was never in doubt. Everyone knew this was going to happen. Are non tech companies really that foolish to think they can salvage a brand that was relevant 10 years ago and revive it? I have a feeling this is some kind of tax avoidance scheme. Knowing nothing about taxes and accounting I will let knowledgeable people correct me.

Yahoo is still in wide use by people and AOL owns a number of properties and has a decent ad business. It may be that these companies were trying to extract value from them. This happens a decent amount these days. It's less about salvaging a brand.

I still use Yahoo Finance. Not extensively, but I haven't found a site I like better for getting random stock quotes & sifting through lightweight financial information.

Yeah same. They have an API that is fairly consistent for stock stuff. If you're gonna do deep diligence there are better tools but for sniffing around, yeah they're good.

In the past few years I've come across several businesses (landscaping, home repairs, etc.) that have been communicating with me using Yahoo email addresses. Many people forget that Yahoo mail was the "Gmail" of its time, and many of those users are still around, especially non-tech oriented users and businesses who have no incentive to switch to anything else.

I still have a verizon.net email address (managed by AOL) that I use exclusively for sites that are likely to spam me. The torrent of political email I got at that address before the last election was amazing to behold.

> Are non tech companies really that foolish to think they can salvage a brand that was relevant 10 years ago and revive it?

Apparently so. Or at least that's my distinct impression from working at a Yahoo subsidiary at the time of acquisition by Verizon. It appeared that Tim Armstrong had legitimately convinced the top Verizon execs that a combination of AOL + Yahoo would somehow create an advertising titan capable of competing with Google and Facebook.

It's quite surprising that they went through with this, given that it's a pretty ludicrous notion: a single major brand/company comeback is challenging enough in tech, but the merger of two of them at once? There's no historical precedent for that succeeding, as far as I can think. Especially with a new name as objectively terrible as "Oath".

Internally, morale was never good. It didn't help that Tim would send out weekly all-company emails that were, at best, a nonsensical word salad of business strategy jargon straight from HBO's Silicon Valley.

Literally all of the Verizon execs who were involved with this calamity are long gone now, and Verizon's previous CEO retired in 2018. My impression is the new CEO basically just wants to focus on 5G and get rid of this mess of bad acquisitions.


> Are non tech companies really that foolish to think they can salvage a brand that was relevant 10 years ago and revive it?

Sure you can, though branding isn't the only way to make a successful business. Kleenex knock-offs thrive even though nobody ever says "please hand me the Generic Tissue Paper". Assuming there are professionals involved (not just rich techbros that have held on since founding) tech companies should be operated the same as non-tech companies. Build a good product, keep costs down, drive sales, put away cash, grow your market.

Once AOL and Yahoo were acquired, it should have been possible to convert them into factories for generic content and services, and service many small brands. But you need an experienced executive and management class that can do this efficiently. It's much easier to turn an acquisition into an poorly-run independent cash cow, or plunder its IP and eliminate it.

I've seen acquisitions go many ways. In some, the parent company may end up more like the acquisition because its business or product was more robust. Other times the point was to obtain some tech and absorb it into the parent company's products. Other times they just wanted a steady cash flow and a foothold into a new market. Sometimes they keep the acquisition fairly independent, because it already has a strong brand and products and they seem to be fucking up less than other acquisitions. Sometimes the companies' execs were literally just golf buddies and one just decided to help the other out of a bind. Sometimes they have no idea why the fuck they bought it or what to do with it, some moron at the top just thought "we need an X, we'll figure out what to do with it later". Sometimes


Give me an instance this kind of salvaging happened in tech. Tech and non tech differ a lot in this case, one cannot use the generic business pattern there. People run of tissues and every time they run out, they seize being a customer and are new customers in the market looking for a brand. That is when discounts, shiny packaging etc help. Tech is not that way. There is an enormous entrenchment with things like email and even news readers. Particularly in online services, People don’t switch, that is the reason why the biggest sites are so loathe to changing the smallest things on their pages. In the same vein, companies that go out of favor don’t ever come back. I am trying to think of examples of any that might have but am unable to. There are tons of brands that are either sold off as acquihires or just left for dead and ignored though.

Maybe all Verizon wanted were the names of the people who were signed up with Yahoo so they could glean all their ones and zeros as well as some cash selling them phone plans?

Ahh.. retrospect prophets, the scarcest HN resource.

With AOL and Yahoo and all the pieces, there was definitely a value play here.

Verizon may just not have been the right company to execute that.


Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: