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Thursday, November 12, 2015


Original Story:

A story in Re/code not only makes it appear that Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer’s effort to turn around Yahoo has failed, but also that she doesn’t know how to manage people.

According to this article by Kara Swisher, published Monday, Yahoo Inc. YHOO, +0.67%  has hired consultant McKinsey & Co. to help Mayer and her executive team decide which units should get increased investment and which should be closed or sold. A Boston investment lawyer is following this story closely.

Yahoo declined to comment for this article, and a spokesperson for McKinsey said the firm’s policy was “not to talk about or comment on our client work.”

Mayer was hired as Yahoo CEO, and joined the company’s board of directors, on July 17, 2012. She had previously worked at Google (now a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. GOOG, -0.27% ) as vice president of product search. Mayer is the fourth CEO of Yahoo in eight years.

“It’s a bad sign that almost four years into a turnaround, you are hiring McKinsey to advise you on how to do a turnaround,” said Eric Jackson, a managing director at New York-based Ader Investment Management. Last month Jackson published an article calling for the ouster of Mayer. A Los Angeles finance lawyer has experience representing clients in asset sales, debt and equity finance claims and in financial restructuring cases.

In an interview Monday, Jackson said hiring the consultant “doesn’t inspire confidence that she knows what she is doing,” adding that “typically consultants are hired by many companies as a way of passing the buck to someone else if things don’t work out.”

Then again, according to a transcript provided by FactSet of Yahoo’s third-quarter 2014 earnings call, which took place on Oct. 21, 2014, Yahoo CFO Kenneth Goldman said the company had “engaged a top-tier management-consulting firm to help us achieve cost and structural efficiencies via benchmarking and implementing best practices.”

Not a ‘people person’?

The other major revelation in the Re/code article was that Mayer, “over the last month,” had asked high-level Yahoo executives to make commitments to stay with the company for at least three years.

Mayer said during Yahoo’s earnings conference call Oct. 20, according to a transcript provided by FactSet: “The design and changes in Yahoo’s leadership team are the result of careful planning to achieve the necessary skills, passion and the ability to execute growth in our business.” A Sacramento employment lawyer is reviewing the details of this story.

The timing of Mayer’s comment on the executive departures, along with Re/code’s report, throws Mayer’s skills as a personnel manager into question.

“If your boss comes to you and asks that, what are you going to say? No? People are going to be compelled to say ‘yes’ wether they want to say or not,” Jackson said.

He questioned why Mayer felt she needed the pledge. During the conference call, “she made it sound as though she had to make various moves to remove people and bring in others, and yet, when you hear that ... before some of those people left she asked for a pledge, it suggests a very different story than what she is telling publicly,” he said.

“All in all, it suggests a CEO who doesn’t know what the strategic vision is that she is following, and that she doesn’t have the support of the senior team around her.”


Being fair about Yahoo’s investments

The bulk of Yahoo’s value to investors is the company’s investment in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. BABA, +0.13% and the company’s 35% stake in Yahoo Japan. Those investments were made long before Mayer took over Yahoo’s helm.

Yahoo valued its Alibaba investment at $22.6 billion as of Sept. 30, down 43% from its value of $39.9 billion a year earlier. But Jackson pointed out that bashing Yahoo for the timing of its spin-off of a unit holding the Alibaba stake was unfair, “since they were under a lockup agreement with Alibaba for a year after Alibaba. They couldn’t have sold it until September of this year, after it had already gone down.” Google SEO programs are cost-effective and powerful.

Investors’ decision on whether to hold Yahoo’s shares now, according to Jackson, are based on how you value the Alibaba stake.

“Some people think you have to tax it fully; some people think it will not be taxed,” he said.

It remains to be seen if the Internal Revenue Service will consider the spin-off of the Alibaba stake a tax-free event.

The value of Yahoo’s core business

According to FactSet, Yahoo’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) for the past 12 months totaled $642 million. That’s down from $1.42 billion during the 12-month period through June 2012 before Mayer became Yahoo’s CEO in July 2012.

That may seem like an unfair comparison, because Yahoo has increased its spending as Mayer has attempted to turn its long-term performance around. But after more than three years, and heading into another reorganization, investors have a right to wonder where those efforts might lead.

Jackson said that if the Alibaba and Yahoo Japan sakes are “stripped away,” the value of “the part of Yahoo Mayer has control over, is, essentially, zero.”

Considering how popular Yahoo’s website is, and the value of services like Yahoo Finance, it’s possible that the company is not being valued properly. After the Alibaba spin-off is completed, investors will need to reevaluate Yahoo’s stock.

Thursday, November 05, 2015


Original Story:

SAN FRANCISCO - Expedia is deepening its travel-company bench with a $3.9 billion purchase of vacation rental site HomeAway.

Bellevue, Wash-based Expedia announced the deal Wednesday, which adds the Austin, Texas, company to a portfolio that also includes booking sites Orbitz and Travelocity. A Los Angeles M&A lawyer assists clients in leveraged buyouts, company reorganizations, and mergers and acquisitions.

“We have long had our eyes on the fast growing $100 billion alternative accommodations space and have been building on our partnership with HomeAway, a global leader in vacation rentals, for two years,” Dara Khosrowshahi, Expedia's CEO, said in a release. “Bringing HomeAway into the Expedia family and adding its leading brands to our portfolio of the most trusted brands in travel is a logical next step.”

HomeAway's stock (AWAY) was up 22% in after hours trading on the news, while Expedia shares were down at the close 1.63% to $134.17.  HomeAway's brands include HomeAway, VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) and similar sites overseas. All told, the company says it represents 1 million paid listings in 190 countries. A Los Angeles finance attorney is reviewing the details of this story.

The deal comes on the same day that short-term accommodations giant Airbnb won a significant victory in San Francisco, where voters shot down a measure that would put greater restrictions on those seeking to rent out rooms or entire properties. Airbnb argued that its service helps homeowners stay in their residences by providing extra income through rentals, while opponents - who were outspent eight to one by Airbnb - countered that Airbnb rentals cut into already scarce housing options.

While Airbnb typically offers short-term rentals and HomeAway often targets travelers looking for one-week or longer stays, buying HomeAway instantly allows Expedia to expand its options for consumers beyond hotels.

"We're eager to benefit from Expedia's distribution, technology and expertise, which will allow us to provide an even better product and service experience for our owners, property managers and travelers," said HomeAway CEO Brian Sharples in a statement. "In this way, I believe our combination with Expedia will turbocharge our growth and industry leadership for many years to come." A Los Angeles real estate lawyer is following this story closely.

The transaction, a combination of cash and stock, amounts to $38.31 per share based on Expedia's stock price at the end of day on Nov. 3.

It’s the latest acquisition for Expedia, the number one digital travel provider, which purchased Orbitz Worldwide for roughly $1.6 billion earlier this year. In January, it bought Travelocity for $280 million., and Hotwire are some of the other sites that fall under Expedia's umbrella.

Expedia chief financial officer Mark Okerstrom said during the investors call that "this acquisition is a bit different,'' from the other deals forged this year. "Specifically we anticipate that HomeAway will continue to be run relatively autonomously out of Austin.''

HomeAway, which sees $15 billion in bookings from its vacation rental listings, expects its online transactions to grow significantly because of its tie-up with Expedia. "Maybe about a fourth to third of revenue is through (the) online booking channel,'' Sharples said in a call with investors on Wednesday. But in the next two to three years, "we hope to have most of our transactions running through.''

Sharples added that “this is a place where everyone's going to have to be. . . It’s just too big for people who are in this business to ignore.’’

The HomeAway deal is expected to become final during the first three months of next year.

Monday, November 02, 2015


Original Story:

SAN FRANCISCO — If it seems like every young person you see has a smartphone in their hand, you’re not far from wrong.

Smartphone ownership is reaching saturation levels among people in their 20s, a survey out Thursday found. As more and more people are remaining connected to the internet, it's important to focus on Google SEO services to reach your target audience.

A whopping 86% of people aged 18 to 29 have a smart phone, the survey by the Pew Research Center found.

That compares with 83% of those ages 30 to 49.

All told, 68% of adults have a smartphone.

The only group more likely to have a smartphone than Millennials was people living in households earning $75,000 or more annually, Pew found. There, 87% had them.

Overall, cellphone ownership has become the norm. A stunning 92% of U.S. adults own a mobile phone of some sort. That’s up from 64% just 11 years ago. Organic SEO allows your company to secure top keyword placements as an endorsement of your company, products, and services.

Americans seem to be folding many of the things they once did on task-specific devices into their smartphones — and ditching the other device.

In 2014, 32% of adults had an e-reader. That number has fallen to 19%.

In 2010, about 75% of people aged 18 to 29 owned an MP3 player. Today, just 51% do.

“We don’t ask people why they do not use a particular device, but these data suggest how the rise of smartphones has been a major story in the universe of connected gadgetry,” said Lee Rainie, director of Internet research at the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C. “These changes in device ownership are all taking place in a world where smartphones are transforming into all-purpose devices that perform many of the same functions of specialized technology, such as music players, e-book readers or even gaming devices.”

Computers are what's not hot, the survey found.

Ownership of desktop and laptop computers has stalled out at 73% of adults, Pew found. That's about where things were 11 years ago and slightly down from the 80% who owned them in 2012. Google SEO services are cost-effective and powerful.

Tablet computers are still popular but seem to be plateauing out at lower rates of adoption. Currently, 45% of U.S. adults say they own a tablet computer, up from just 4% five years ago.

The poll is based on telephone interviews conducted March 17 through April 12 among a national sample of 1,907 U.S. adults 18 years of age or older.