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Rediff.com  » Business » PE firm Silver Lake mulls buying out Yahoo

PE firm Silver Lake mulls buying out Yahoo

Last updated on: September 16, 2011 17:42 IST

PE firm Silver Lake mulls buying out Yahoo

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Silver Lake, a US-based private equity firm, is reportedly exploring the idea of bidding for Internet major Yahoo Inc.

Various news reports suggest that the PE firm, if it buys out Yahoo, would first sell off the Internet company's Asian assets. Silver Lake would thereafter, a report said, try to either turn the 'remaining' company around or find yet another buyer for the main operations.

However, a Wall Street Journal quoting people close to the company said that Yahoo has not met with Silver Lake. Yahoo meanwhile has maintained that it is under no duress to make a deal in a hurry.

Yahoo has been in the news lately since it fired chief executive officer Carol Bartz and the company's board has reportedly deciding to put the web giant up for sale.

A Wall Street Journal report had quoted a Yahoo insider as saying that 'Yahoo is open to selling itself to the right bidder'.

The board of the online media giant fired Bartz, who was brought on board two years ago to turn around the company's troubled fortunes. However, that did not happen. The board was not happy with her job.

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Photographs: Reuters
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Yahoo!'s fired chief executive officer Carol Bartz blasted the online media company's board of directors in a no-holds-barred interview with Fortune magazine, calling the people who fired her 'doofuses'.

Bartz told Fortune, "These people f-----d me over," in the interview which is her first interaction with the media ever since she was fired over the phone by Yahoo! chairman Roy Bostock.

In the interview, Bartz mentioned that Bostock read out a statement prepared by a lawyer to her over the phone.

"I said, 'Roy, I think that's a script. Why don't you have the balls to tell me yourself?'" she told Fortune during the interview.

When the Yahoo! chairman had read out the pink slip to her, Bartz told him, 'I thought you were classier.'

Online media company Yahoo has fired chief executive officer Carol Bartz, who was brought on board two years ago to turn around the company's troubled fortunes, and named Chief Financial Officer Tim Morse as interim chief executive.

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Photographs: Reuters
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Under a 'leadership reorganisation' move, the California-based company on Tuesday announced that its board of directors has appointed Morse as interim CEO with immediate effect, replacing Bartz, "who has been removed by the board from her role" as CEO.

Morse would continue to shoulder the responsibilities of his current role as Yahoo chief financial officer.

Almost two years ago, when Carol Bartz visited India as the new chief of Yahoo!, she had appealed for a renewed belief in the company's prospects, both globally, as well as in India.

She had also taken steps like appointing Arun Tadanki as managing director of Yahoo! India in May 2009. The company had been without a leader in India for almost two years after George Zacharias' exit.

The media and analysts, however, remained sceptical on Bartz's ability to revive the company's former glory.

Now, with her departure, the company's future is once again being questioned. "Yahoo! was earlier directionless. Now it's headless," says Mahesh Murthy, founder & chief executive, Pinstorm. He says while the company "did well to overtake Rediff.com in India, its revenues compare poorly with that of Google's".

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Photographs: Reuters
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Industry estimates peg Google's India revenues at around Rs 1,000 crore (Rs 10 billion) annually, while Yahoo! India's revenues are yet to cross the Rs 100-crore (Rs 1 billion) mark. Rediff's India turnover stands at around Rs 80 crore (Rs 800 million).

"While Yahoo! converted itself from a search engine to a general portal, it has slipped from its numero uno position in all segments," says Murthy.

And, when Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang launched the company in India, he had invited late Bollywood star Shammi Kapoor (whose 'Yahoooo' shout in the film Junglee was quite a rage) to launch the site.

The game-plan worked well and the brand recall of Yahoo! was high. That was till Internet search giant, Google, turned the tables on Yahoo, which unwittingly allowed it to power its search engine. The result: Google is today the default search brand, both globally as well as in India.

Globally, too, Google tried to acquire Yahoo!. Later, Microsoft bid for it. But both the deals failed, and the Yahoo! brand name received a drubbing, both in terms of revenue and image.

Yahoo! now has a tie-up with Microsoft's search engine, Bing. In a bid to recover lost ground and capture marketshare, Yahoo! initiated a $100-million global plan under Bartz. India was an integral part of the Ogilvy campaign which read: 'The internet is under a new management--YOURS. It's Y!ou'.

Bartz, however, was unable to regain lost ground. Globally, Google sites became the first web property to surpass one billion unique visitors, according to ComScore data.


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