Katie Couric officially is heading online with a Yahoo deal that had been rumored for months. The Web giant announced this morning the Couric will serve as global anchor beginning in 2014, working with “a growing team of global correspondents who will report on live world events, anchor groundbreaking interviews with major newsmakers and thought leaders, and much more.” Said Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, “Katie’s depth of experience, her intellectual curiosity, and her charisma make her the perfect choice to anchor Yahoo News and the whole Yahoo Network.” Couric and Yahoo executives are still in the early stages of developing ideas for what the scope of her presence will be, with town hall meetings among a number of interactive possibilities. Why taking on an Internet gig? “I’ve done pretty much everything else in television up until now — I hosted the Today show, I anchored the CBS Evening News and I’ve done a syndicated show,” Couric told Deadline. “If you look at the next frontier where content is going and how people are consuming it, it is in the digital space.” Couric is not new to the space, having launched the @KatieCouric online interview show while at CBS News and utilizing Twitter and Facebook questions on her syndicated show. “I like the idea of unlimited real estate, doing interviews that are interesting to a global audience.”
Related: ABC News Parts Company With Katie Couric
By signing with Yahoo, Couric ended a few months early her agreement with ABC News, which was part of the Disney-ABC package for her syndicated talk show. Couric, who has done little for ABC News in the past year while working on her show, is not severing ties completely. “It is still a very symbiotic relationship,” she said. “As ABC News has said, it wouldn’t be surprising if they would utilize my content on their platform.” (ABC News has an online partnership with Yahoo.) A partnership that is not in the cards, at least for now — with CNN and Couric’s former producer Jeff Zucker. Read More »
Shares are up 1.6% in after-market trading following the announcement. Yahoo disclosed the additional repurchase authorization as part of a larger finance plan that includes the raising of $1B in debt. The company says that it will privately sell senior notes — convertible into cash, common stock, or a combination — due 2018. Up to $200M could be used to repurchase the buyers’ stock. The rest will be used for “general corporate purposes, including, but not limited to, acquisitions or other strategic transactions, additional repurchases of common stock and working capital.” The company told investors last month that it spent $5.3B on stock repurchases since the beginning of 2012. Yahoo shares have appreciated 94% over the last 12 months, but some investors are growing impatient for proof that CEO Marissa Mayer’s efforts to upgrade services and buy properties including Tumblr will pay off. “While we believe it is unrealistic to expect a clear turn around in one year given where the business was, our view is that Yahoo’s core business is not where it should be to give us confidence that a turn-around is (highly) likely,” Bernstein Research’s Carlos Kirjner said last month after the company reported mixed results in Q3.
Everyone in the nexus of the world where consumer electronics and media meet seems to have an opinion about this following the announcement on Monday that The Times’ gadget critic is headed to Yahoo to create a splashy new consumer tech site. Isn’t it risky for David Pogue to leave the newspaper that made him a star for a Web organization that has virtually no presence on the beat? There’s no way to definitively answer that just yet, of course. But that didn’t stop the researchers at Kontera — a firm that measures Web content and social media impressions — from taking a stab. And their data show that it’s probably worth the gamble. “Yahoo might be a better platform for him to build his personal brand,” says Ammiel Kamon, EVP of Marketing and Activation Products. Possibly due to the newspaper’s online pay wall “Yahoo is seen a lot more than The Times. It’s quoted more and re-tweeted more.” Yahoo generated more than twice as many Web comments about telecom and consumer electronics matters than The Times did from July 22 to October 13, Kontera found. And in a look at the buzz generated by four top tech critics during the period, Pogue came in third with 23% of the comments. The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg came in first with 31% closely followed by USA Today’s Ed Baig with 30%, while independent writer John Gruber … Read More »
This is a coup for Yahoo. David Pogue has spent 13 years critiquing gadgets for the Gray Lady, becoming one of its brand-name writers. In the process he also has become a familiar presence on CBS Sunday Morning and the host of PBS’ NOVA ScienceNow. Yahoo says that he will now “lead a major expansion of consumer tech coverage on Yahoo and will publish columns, blog posts, video stories and more, starting later this year.” CEO Marissa Mayer weighed in, saying that her company is “in a unique position to bring to life great editorial about the technology consumers are using every day.” Pogue says in a blog post that in addition to his writing he’ll continue “making my goofy videos. But my team and I have much bigger plans, too, for all kinds of online and real-world creations.” While he characterizes Yahoo as an “underdog,” he now believes that the company is “young, revitalized, aggressive — and, under Marissa Mayer’s leadership, razor-focused, for the first time in years….She’s overseen brilliant overhauls of several Yahoo sites and apps, and had the courage to shut down the derelict ones.” The New York Times circulated an internal memo that wishes him well in his new gig. Read More »
The stock price initially popped more than 4% in post-market trading as investors took a first look at Q3 results that were down from last year — but not as bad as some anticipated. Yet those gains quickly evaporated as they saw the details about the company’s generally anemic performance. Profit comparisons are skewed by last year’s $2.8B gain from the sale of shares in Alibaba Group. With that included, net income fell 91% to $297M on revenues of $1.13B, -5%. The revenue figure topped the $1.08B that analysts expected — and would match it if you take out traffic acquisition costs. Adjusted earnings at 34 cents a share slightly beat the 33 cents consensus forecast. Investors who hoped to see improvement in sales of display ads may be disappointed. Not including traffic acquisition costs, display revenues fell 7% to $421M following a 10.6% drop in Q2 and 11.4% decline in Q1. The number of ads sold in Q3 increased 1% vs the period last year while the price per ad fell 7%. The search business ended up generating $426M not including traffic acquisition costs, +3%, with paid clicks +21% but price-per-click -4%. Read More »
As editor in chief Megan Liberman will lead a major expansion of Yahoo News, focusing primarily on original reporting, social news gathering, video and live events coverage, the site announced on its blog. “Megan is a dynamic addition to the Yahoo News team,” Robertson Barrett, Vice President of Yahoo News and Finance, said in a statement. “As deputy news editor at The New York Times she drove some of the most successful digital initiatives, from its blog network to Nate Silver’s multi-platform presence to live streamed coverage of the 2012 elections”. Prior to her most recent role at the Times, Megan served as deputy editor at The New York Times Magazine where she was responsible for all digital features and strategy.
The folks at Yahoo must be yodeling with delight today. A month after posting a disappoint Q2 report, the web giant has usurped Google for the US web-traffic throne. At least for July. Yahoo scored nearly 196.6 million visits during the month, according to comScore, topping Google’s 192.3 million and ending its five-year run at No. 1. That controversial $1.1B acquisition of Tumblr might have had a hand in Yahoo’s win. Although comScore still ranks Tumblr separately — it finished 38th in July — a footnote on the report says the social networking/microblogging site “assigned some portion of traffic to other syndicated entities.” Then again, fantasy football drafts are looming, and no one comes close to Yahoo’s domination in that space.
Related: Yahoo Board OKs $1.1B Deal To Acquire Tumblr — Analysis
Ex-Daily Mirror, Sun Staffers Among 9 Charged In Bribery Scandal
Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service said today that nine people would be charged in relation to allegations of illegal payments to public officials. Among them are former Daily Mirror journalist Greig Box-Turnbull, and ex-Sun staffers Graham Dudman, John Troup and Vince Soodin. Box-Turnbull is being called up on two charges of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office with regard to alleged payments to prison officers for information. The prison officers also are being charged as co-conspirators. Dudman is alleged to have requested the authorization of payments to one or more police officers and to have authorized payments to public officials in his capacity as Sun managing editor. Troup is charged as a co-conspirator. Soodin will be charged with conspiring with a police officer to commit misconduct in public office. The remaining defendants are a police officer and a hospital employee. All will appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court on September 5. The new charges come a few days after the revelation that Scotland Yard is actively investigating Sun owner News International (now News UK) for possible criminal violations related to the phone-hacking scandal and allegations of illegal payments. News UK is the British press arm of News Corp.
Dawn Airey Tapped As Yahoo’s SVP Europe, Middle East And Africa
Yahoo has appointed UK television veteran Dawn Airey as SVP Europe, Middle East and Africa. Beginning November 1, Christophe Parcot, who has served as Yahoo’s interim lead of EMEA, will take on a new role focused on expanding the web giant’s business in the region. Airey joins Yahoo from RTL Group. She has also held high-level executive positions at Five, ITV, BSkyB and Channel4. Read More »
The companies hinted in December, when they announced a sports content alliance, that we’d see collaborative programming arrangements like the two announced today. This week they’ll introduce Fantasy Football Live — Thursday Night, a weekly show that helps NFL fantasy players build their teams. A version for TV will run each week at 6:30 PM ET on NBC Sports Network. At 7 PM a digital-only version will appear on Yahoo Sports and NBCSports.com. The program will use data from NBC Sports’ fantasy site, Rotoworld.com. Then, on August 19, NBC Sports Network will introduce an hour-long weekday show, SportsDash With Yahoo! Sports, with news and feature stories based on topics that are trending on the Internet platform. It will be followed by a 15-minute version on Yahoo, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports Live Extra app. “We are very excited to extend our relationship with NBC Sports in an innovative way that combines the best of broadcast and digital media,” says Kenneth Fuchs, head of Yahoo! Sports and Games.
Looks like Yahoo is more concerned about the Third Point founder’s intentions than everyone let on early this week when they announced that the company would pay $1.16B for 40M of Daniel Loeb’s shares, bringing his stake below 2%. The agreement also includes an extended standstill agreement, which prevents Loeb from moving against Yahoo management into 2018, according to an SEC filing today. It bars the hedge fund from owning more than 3% of Yahoo’s shares. Loeb can’t solicit proxies or make a shareholder proposal. The activist investor also would need board approval before he could participate in a merger or a restructuring or recapitalization involving one of Yahoo’s subsidiaries or affiliates. The Internet company said that it wouldn’t disparage Loeb and his colleagues, Michael Wolf and Harry Wilson — all of whom will resign from the board at the end of this month. Loeb is an investor in Variety with Deadline’s parent company PMC.
Related: Who Is Daniel Loeb And What Does He Want With Sony?
Yahoo shares are down more than 3% this morning after the company said that it has bought back most of the shares owned by Third Point’s Daniel Loeb — leading him and colleagues Harry Wilson and Michael Wolf to resign from the board at the end of this month. ”Since our Board’s rigorous search led us to hire Marissa Mayer as CEO, Yahoo!’s stock price has nearly doubled, delivering significant value for shareholders,” Loeb says. “I’m confident that with Marissa at the helm and her team’s focus on innovation and engaging users, Yahoo! has a bright future.” The agreement to buy 40M of Loeb’s shares, at $29.11 apiece, will bring his stake in the company below 2% — and will count toward the company’s plan to repurchase $1.9B of its stock. Loeb is an investor in Variety with Deadline’s parent company PMC.
The sale makes sense for Loeb, the billionaire founder of hedge fund Third Point. He’s a value investor who likes to engage in deep research and then bet on relatively boring companies and assets that others overlook. Few would consider Yahoo undervalued after its stock appreciated 77% in the last 12 months. And the company is far from overlooked with former Google exec Mayer at the helm. The sale gives Third Point cash to devote elsewhere — possibly including Sony where Loeb is urging the company to issue stock in its movie, TV and music assets. (He wants Sony to hang on to about 80% and let the public trade the remaining 20%.) Meanwhile, Third Point remains a major shareholder in Yahoo.
But Yahoo shareholders may fear that once Loeb and his colleagues leave the board, the company may use the proceeds from the interest it sold in Alibaba to buy assets — like it just did with its $1.1B deal for Tumblr — says Barclay’s Capital’s Anthony DiClemente.
Here’s the release: Read More »
Online video is “a huge opportunity” and Yahoo needs “a terrific platform”, CEO Marissa Mayer told analysts in a conference call today. She wouldn’t say specifically how much she plans to spend, but over the next year the company will focus on its technology while it also cuts content deals similar to the one it recently made to become the exclusive home for the Saturday Night Live archives. ”Video was new for us last year and performed very well,” Mayer says. She describes the content strategy as being like a pyramid. In addition to landing established hits, Yahoo also will invest in its original web productions — such as reality series Burning Love and comedy Ghost Ghirls — as it also encourages users to submit self-produced videos. “A minority will be our own original programming, the majority will be through partnerships” and revenue sharing deals with established producers she says. She’s enthusiastic because “advertisers really like it.” They demonstrated that with orders after Yahoo’s presentation at this year’s NewFronts, digital video providers’ effort to win ad dollars from broadcast and cable networks that kick off their sales season with their spring upfront presentations. “We did see a lot of interest … it was a successful event for us,” she says.
Related: Yahoo Shares Slip After Report Shows Continuing Weaknesses
Today’s the one-year anniversary of Marissa Mayer‘s appointment as CEO, but the Q2 financial report she just released doesn’t seem to be inspiring many cheers on Wall Street. Yahoo shares are down 1.6% in post-market trading after the disclosure. The company generated $331.2M in net income, +46.1% versus the same period last year, on revenues (not including traffic acquisition costs, or TAC) of $1.07B, -1%. The revenue number is slightly lower than the $1.08B that analysts expected. Earnings came in at 30 cents a share, matching the consensus forecast.
Related: Yahoo Board OKs $1.1B Deal To Acquire Tumblr: Analysis
The core advertising business was uninspiring. Display revenues (not including TAC) fell 11% to $423M, though search ads (also ex-TAC) were +5% to $403M. Meanwhile, Yahoo says that it completed its $3.65B share repurchase following the sale of part of its stake in Alibaba Group, but plans to spend $1.9B more on buybacks. Mayer touts Yahoo’s “continued stability” and efforts to energize its businesses. “From the new Yahoo News, the new Yahoo Sports app, the redesigned Yahoo search, the new Flickr, the new Yahoo! Mail for tablet, the Yahoo Weather app, our new Yahoo app with Summly — this quarter drove tremendous improvements in our product line and our users responded with increased usage and engagement,” she says.
Related: … Read More »
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer danced on a tightrope this morning as she tried to explain the logic behind her company’s $1.1B agreement to buy social network site Tumblr. She told analysts in a conference call that the companies will work together, but separately. They appeal to different audiences, but she says they can complement each other. And since Yahoo is “all about brands” and advertising, it can gin up sales on Tumblr even though it has a history of being ad averse — and tolerant of porn. “We need to have good tools for targeting” ad messages, Mayer says. While it’s important for Tumblr to be “true to their voice,” the companies can “monetize [it] in a way that’s tasteful” while showing advertisers “the benefits of [Tumblr's young] demographics and the huge volume of users and traffic.” Tumblr’s 26-year-old founder and CEO David Karp — who Mayer called “one of the most inspiring entrepreneurs I’ve ever met” — underscored the cultural differences in a blog post this morning. Promising that “We’re not turning purple,” he ended his brief news announcement saying “fuck yeah.” Mayer vowed to “let Tumblr be Tumblr” operating “under the Tumblr brand and David’s vision” from its base in New York. Yahoo will help with the infrastructure, but won’t put its brand on Tumblr’s site. The connection “will be largely invisible to users.” She says it shouldn’t be hard to gin up ad sales at the social network, which just began to accept them a year ago. “Of the top 10 Hollywood studios, all use Tumblr to promote movies,” she says. “Tumblr views itself as a home for brands.” For example, Yahoo could “work with [Tumblr] bloggers who want ads.” She acknowledges that the businesses have different psychographics — Yahoo audiences are older than those at Tumblr where the average user is 25. “I would expect any ad units that we create [there] would be native and follow the form and function” of the site, Mayer says. Read More »
Related: Yahoo Board OKs Deal To Acquire Tumblr — Analysis
SUNNYVALE, Calif. & NEW YORK– Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) and Tumblr announced today that they have reached a definitive agreement for Yahoo! to acquire Tumblr.
Per the agreement and our promise not to screw it up, Tumblr will be independently operated as a separate business. David Karp will remain CEO. The product, service and brand will continue to be defined and developed separately with the same Tumblr irreverence, wit, and commitment to empower creators.
Read More »
UPDATE, 1:27 PM: Yahoo‘s spin machine will be hard at work today and tomorrow trying to persuade investors that CEO Marissa Mayer isn’t wildly overpaying for Tumblr. Although the social media service has become red hot — it averages about 75.8M posts a day — it generated just $12M in revenue last year and hopes for $100M this year, Forbes says. CEO David Karp began to sell ads for the site just a year ago. Yahoo has more than enough cash to make the deal. Still, Mayer could use Wall Street’s support for the biggest acquisition that she has made since taking charge in July. Her company’s shares have appreciated about 33% so far this year because Yahoo’s investments in Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba and Yahoo Japan have been doing so well. Sales of display ads, which have been key for Yahoo, continued to disappoint in Q1. Tumblr, whose average user is under 25, could help Yahoo make more connections with young Web users. But it also could complicate Yahoo’s sales message due to Tumblr’s comparatively lax views about hosting porn, BusinessWeek notes.
The talk about Tumblr could eclipse some additional news Yahoo plans to make tomorrow: It has scheduled a press conference to unveil updates to its Flickr photo-sharing service, Bloomberg reports.
UPDATE 10:55 AM: Yahoo board has greenlighted buying the social network in a billion-dollar-plus deal that could be announced as early as tomorrow Read More »
BFI Lays Out Development Funding Recipients
The British Film Institute has identified 20 UK production companies that will receive BFI Vision Awards 2013-15. The grants will provide up to £200K over two years to the companies for investment in slate development. The BFI said the successful companies each demonstrated “a clear strategic vision for their future growth as well as a commitment to nurturing a diverse range of new voices and fresh ideas from across the UK.” There were 170 applicants overall. The project is part of the BFI’s Film Forever plan to foster growth in the UK film biz and keep momentum going after a strong series of local films. Among the companies receiving £100K are 42 M&P (Welcome To The Punch), Cowboy Films (The Last King Of Scotland), Independent (We Need To Talk About Kevin); Warp Films (Submarine) and Wildgaze Films (Quartet). Among those receiving £50K are Inflammable Films (Tyrannosaur), JW Films (Attack The Block), Rook Films (Sightseers) and animation companies Blue-Zoo, Flickerpix. The full list is here.
‘Doctor Who’ Gets New Exec Producer; Opens Pop-Up Shop
Brian Minchin is joining Doctor Who as its new executive producer alongside showrunner Steven Moffat. Minchin is an exec producer in BBC Wales drama, currently working on The Game, a new Cold War spy thriller for BBC One. He had previously been a script editor on both Doctor Who and Torchwood. Separately, the BBC says the first ever Doctor Who pop-up store will open its doors in Sydney, Australia this fall. It will feature exclusive merchandise including the Doctor Who home range, apparel, toys, DVDs, books and replica props. Read More »
Not bad for six months of work. To be fair, though, the tally includes $14M in restricted stock units to replace some of the compensation that Marissa Mayer forfeited in July when she left Google to take the top job at Yahoo, according to the proxy filed today at the SEC. There’s also a one time retention award of worth $30M that vests over five years. Her package for last year included $454,862 salary, $35M stock awards, $1.1M in non equity incentives, and $40,540 in other compensation. Almost all of the last category is for personal security services. Mayer wasn’t even Yahoo’s highest paid employee last year: The crown goes to COO Henrique de Castro who made $39.2M after joining in November from Google. Yahoo laid out a lot of cash to take care of all the execs who came and left last year. Former Interim CEO Ross Levinsohn, who held the top job from May to July, made $13.4M including a $1.5M severance payment. His predecessor Scott Thompson, who served from January to May, made $24.3M. Shareholders will have a chance to register their opinions about the outlays in an advisory vote at the annual meeting to be held June 25 in Santa Clara, Calif. Also on the agenda is a vote on a shareholder resolution asking Yahoo to publish an annual Corporate Social Responsibility report. The company opposes the move, saying that it is “working proactively … Read More »