UPDATE: The relief over the Alibaba news didn’t last long. Yahoo shares are now down 2.4% following management’s call with analysts who mostly focused on the company’s lousy Q2 results — and execs ratcheted back their Q3 guidance. CEO Marissa Mayer said it will take “multiple years” to turn things around, although she called the Q2 numbers a “short term set back.” CFO Ken Goldman says that “clear we need to operate with a greater sense of urgency” as he projected that Q3 numbers will look a lot like Q2′s.
PREVIOUS, 1:16 PM: Yahoo only has to sell 140M of its Alibaba shares after the Chinese e-retailer goes public, down from their previous agreement that required Yahoo to unload 208M shares. That led to a 2.5% jump in Yahoo’s stock price in early post market trading — not bad considering what looks at first glance to be tepid financial results in Q2. Yahoo generated $272.6M in net income, -18.6% vs the period last year, on revenues of $1.04B (not including traffic acquisition costs), -2.9%. The top line is a hair lower than analysts expected. Net earnings at 37 cents a share were a penny light of the consensus forecast.
The Q2 results will do little to assuage investors who are wondering when CEO Marissa Mayer — who’s been at the company for two years — will show solid improvements at Yahoo’s core ad-supported businesses. The stock is down nearly 12% so far in 2014 as people lose patience, and fear what will happen now that it has to reduce its 24% stake in Alibaba, which is seen as a success.
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Execs didn’t use the word but their Newfront presentation to advertisers in NYC left little doubt that Yahoo sees itself as a classy, Conde Nast-like alternative to others on the web who shoot for the lowest common denominator. CEO Marissa Mayer says she’s focusing on mobile, social, native, and video ads. Regarding the future of video “we’re positioned to influence and sometimes invent it….at scale, across devices, every single day,” Yahoo CMO Kathy Savitt told advertisers.
Producer Mike Tollin (Smallville and Arliss) kicked off Yahoo originals introductions by teaming with Minnesota Timberwolves’ Kevin Love to pitch Sin City Saints, a series with eight half-hour episodes about a basketball team based in Las Vegas. Director Bryan Gordon (Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Office) will help out with what Tollin called a “behind the scenes comedy“ shot with a single camera. Hilarity ensues when a Silicon Valley tech tycoon who wants to own a basketball team buys one, but doesn’t know what to do with it. “The Saints are not good…you could say they’re in a rebuilding mode.” Paul Feig (creator of Freaks And Geeks, and director of Bridesmaids and The Heat) appeared in a video to pitch a futuristic sci-fi comedy Other Space, which also will run for eight, half-hour episodes. Savitt says that Yahoo will introduce other shows later.
Related: Yahoo Preps Pair Of Original Comedy Series For Web
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It would have been obscene if Yahoo had matched the $35M in stock awards it gave Marissa Mayer in 2012 to woo her over from Google. So her total compensation was down for 2013 the company’s latest proxy shows, even though all of the components aside from stock awards were up in a year when Yahoo shares appreciated 103%. Her package: $1M salary, $2,250 bonus (only because she’s a co-inventor on some pending patents), $8.3M in stock awards, $13.8M in option awards, $1.7M in non equity incentives, and $73,863 in other compensation. The “other” category includes $50,000 for security (not including the protection she receives at work and on business travel), and $18,248 to reimburse for attorney fees. Yahoo says that twice last year family members and guests joined Mayer on the company plane during a business trip. It didn’t include that in her compensation “because we leased the entire aircraft and were not charged based on the number of passengers.” The board said that Mayer “revitalized the Company’s employee base, continued to build her leadership team, increased the pace of product innovation and refreshes, spearheaded the acquisition of Tumblr, and attracted new customers and increased traffic.” Former COO Henrique de Castro, who was bounced in January, didn’t receive a bonus “because the Compensation Committee believed that he did not meet the performance standards necessary to receive an annual bonus for 2013,” the proxy says. Still, Mayer’s former pal was … Read More »
Henrique de Castro was a top ad guy for Google and, in October 2012, Marissa Mayer‘s first big hire after she became Yahoo’s CEO. But the relationship soured as Yahoo‘s ad sales failed to inspire — and the company says today in an SEC filing that he “will be leaving the Company effective January 16, 2014.” Yahoo reported disappointing ad sales in Q3, leading Bernstein Research’s Carlos Kirjner to observe that “the core remains challenged, particularly in its display advertising business.” Don’t cry for de Castro: With special sign-on incentives, his compensation package in 2012 totaled $39.2M, beating Mayer who made $36.6M. He’ll now collect much more in severance benefits.
Katie Couric, Summly founder Nick D’Aloisio, former New York Times tech writer David Pogue, SNL‘s Cecily Strong and Kenan Thompson, and musician John Legend joined the Yahoo CEO at her International CES keynote to tout the company’s info and entertainment offerings. “Media has long been one of Yahoo’s key strengths,” Marissa Mayer says. Couric — the recently named Global Anchor, who’s celebrating her birthday — lamented that in the digital age “at times accuracy has been a casualty of immediacy.” She vowed to uphold “core values of old-fashioned journalism” in her interviews with “anyone who we believe has an important and interesting story to tell.” D’Aloisio charted a slightly different course as he announced the Yahoo News Digest. The iPhone and iPod Touch app will provide users with two daily news summaries created from multiple sources that will be “comprehensive, effortless and complete.” Mayer also introduced Yahoo Digital Magazines, beginning with Yahoo Food promising ”immersive, bite-sized content” (was her word play intentional?) and Pogue’s Yahoo Tech. The gadget critic shouted through his presentation, during which he vowed to present tech news for ordinary people. The magazine will cover subjects that concern 85% of the population. “We have a language we’re going to speak and it’s called English” — he intends to dispense with jargon terms such as “form factor,” “price point,” and “content.” 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 »
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 »
No surprise about who topped the list of 2012′s highest paid CEOs at the media companies whose compensation practices I track most closely. (See here for an explanation). CBS’ Les Moonves returns to the head of the pack with $62.2M, even though his package was 11.1% smaller than it was in 2011. That was an anomaly: The top 20 collectively made $542.7M, up from $416.6M in 2011, according to company proxy statements filed at the SEC. It took $25.9M to crack the Top 10 — last year Time Warner Cable’s Glenn Britt made it with $16.4M. The most notable change in this year’s list vs 2011 is the jump by Liberty Media’s Greg Maffei to No. 2 from No. 28 as his company adjusted stock options just in case the feds change the corporate deduction this year for performance-based compensation.
Related: Big Media Moguls With Out-Of-Whack Compensation
Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer also joins the top 10 following her move there from Google. Her appearance also highlights a quirk in this year’s list which has more CEOs than companies: Yahoo had three CEOs last year (Mayer is still there) and there were two apiece at Sirius XM (James Meyer replaced Mel Karmazin) and Cinemark (Tim Warner is now in charge). Also, remember that this list just includes corporate CEOs, not division chiefs or board chairs. I’ll be back soon with a list of the highest-paid media execs. The numbers on the right are the amount in millions of dollars for the total compensation as reported by each company.
Here’s our list of 2012′s highest-paid media CEOs: 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 »
The board picked author and investor Maynard Webb Jr to serve as interim chairman. And the number of directors will soon drop to 10 from 11: Fred Amaroso says that he won’t seek reelection to the board at the June 25 annual meeting. The former Rovi CEO says that when he became chairman “I told the board that my intention was to serve for one year, in order to help Yahoo! during a critical time of transformation. In that time, Yahoo hired a great new CEO, brought on a fantastic management team, revitalized the employee base, and has begun to release top notch new products.” Now that Marissa Mayer has taken the reins “this is a natural time for me to transition off the board.” Mayer says that Amaroso “has been a wonderful chairman for Yahoo over the past year, and I’m personally grateful for his trust and guidance as I took on the role as Yahoo CEO.”
Revenue from display ads fell 11% year over year, Yahoo said today in reporting first-quarter earnings, and overall declining sales for a second quarter in a row had the stock down about 4% after hours before bouncing back slightly. The stock has gained more than 50% since CEO Marissa Mayer was hired last July. Excluding Korea, the company’s total number of ads sold dropped 7%, though search ad revenue was up 6%. Yahoo also projected net revenue for Q2 to be lower than what analysts had expected, not helping the stock’s after-hours performance (it closed at Overall for the year’s first three months, the Internet giant reported a profit of $390M, or 35 cents a share, compared with $286M, or 23 cents, a year ago. Net revenue was $1.07B, flat with Q1 2012 but toward the low end of analysts’ estimates.
Marissa Mayer largely spoke in vague generalities about her plans for Yahoo in her first quarterly conversation with analysts since she became CEO in July. She promised to make Yahoo “a growth company by inspiring and delighting our users.” She wants people to turn to Yahoo as a daily habit, for example when they search the Web or communicate. The former Google exec says that search is “the top priority for Yahoo” and she plans to “make organic investments to grow market share.” While there’s “disappointment” in the results from the partnership with Microsoft, she has no plans to change the alliance. Meanwhile, look for a revamp of Yahoo Mail and Messenger, as well as its home page to “make it more compelling.” Personalization will be key. “We just scratched the surface,” she says. Another top priority is to develop a “focused, coherent mobile strategy.” She acknowledged that Yahoo “hasn’t capitalized on the mobile opportunity.” It spent too little on services and allowed its product offerings to be “splintered.”
Related: Yahoo Q3 Earnings Beat Forecasts With Strong Results From Search Read More »
It’s a modest victory for CEO Marissa Mayer, reflected in a more than 3% pickup in Yahoo shares in post-market trading. Net income soared to $3.16B from last year’s $298.3M due to the $2.8B Yahoo received from the sale of shares in Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba. Revenues at $1.09B, not including traffic acquisition costs, were up 2%. Still, the revenue figure beat the Street’s forecast of $1.08B. And excluding the Alibaba sale, earnings per share came in at 35 cents — well ahead of the consensus forecast for 26 cents. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the $414M Yahoo recorded from its search business, up 11% from last year. Most analysts figured the new number would come in about $390M or lower. But that was offset by lower-than-expected sales from display ads. They came in at $452M, flat vs last year; analysts predicted at least $470M from display. The earnings release offers no new information about Mayer’s plans for the company. “We’re taking important steps to position Yahoo for long-term success, and we’re confident that our focus on quality and improving the user experience will drive increased value for our advertisers, partners, and shareholders,” she says. Yahoo watchers expect her to discuss her vision in a conference call this afternoon.
Related: Yahoo CEO Short On Details But Vows To Boost Mobile Services And Personalization
This marks the most significant hire to date for CEO Marissa Mayer, who last month named Ken Goldman CFO. For this one she went back to her old stomping ground at Google to snatch Henrique de Castro, who was VP of Google’s worldwide Partner Business Solutions group, where he was responsible for advertising platforms and services for Google’s publisher and commerce partners. Before that, he helped grow Google’s media, mobile and platforms division. Here’s Yahoo’s release: Read More »
The deal that the companies struck in May cuts in half Yahoo‘s 40% stake in the Chinese e-commerce giant. But it leaves a big question unanswered: What will Yahoo do with the cash? The company initially said it would return “substantially all” of the proceeds to shareholders. Last month, CEO Marissa Mayer — who took the top job in July — said that she’s rethinking “our restructuring plan, our share repurchase program” and the Alibaba repayment promise as she weighs options to revive the struggling Internet content giant. Yahoo shares are down 2.3% so far in 2012. Here’s today’s announcement about the sale:
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The stock is -3.5% in after hours trading following Yahoo’s SEC filing saying that CEO Marissa Mayer is rethinking the company’s strategic plan. The key part: she’s also reconsidering the company’s vow to return to shareholders most of the proceeds from its $7.1B stock deal with Alibaba. Yahoo owned about 40% of the Chinese e-commerce power and agreed in May to sell about half of that back to Alibaba for $6.3B in cash and $800M in preferred stock. Yahoo said at the time that it would return “substantially all” of proceeds of the transaction, after taxes, to shareholders. Yahoo also increased its share buyback authorization by $5B. But Yahoo said today that Mayer is rethinking “our restructuring plan, our share repurchase program” and the Alibaba repayment promise.
Related: Ross Levinsohn Splits From Yahoo Two Weeks After Marissa Mayer Named CEO
It would have been awkward for former Interim CEO Ross Levinsohn to have stayed after Yahoo passed him over and named former Google exec Marissa Mayer to the top job. But he’ll be nicely compensated for his two-month stint running the company after former CEO Scott Thompson left in May following disclosures that he had inflated his academic credentials. The board awarded Levinsohn 67,000 restricted shares and 250,000 stock options at an exercise price of $15.80 — the closing price on July 26 — Yahoo disclosed in an SEC filing. The board also approved 12 months of accelerated vesting of his previous equity awards. His separation agreement establishes that he was terminated without cause. That entitles him to a cash payment equal to his base salary for 12 months, his targeted annual bonus, plus a prorated portion of his target annual bonus for 2013. For some restricted stock the company awarded him in November 2011 he’ll be credited with 12 additional months of employment. Don’t expect to hear the former News Corp exec tell all about Yahoo. His agreement includes a non-disparagement clause that prevents Levinsohn from criticizing the company for five years unless he’s legally required to do so. Yahoo execs also can’t “knowingly” criticize him “other than in the good-faith performance of their duties to the Company or in connection with their fiduciary duties to the Company and applicable law.” Levinsohn joined Yahoo in October 2010.
The numbers in an SEC filing this evening are amazing — even if they don’t approach the astronomical outlays we so frequently see at Big Media companies including Viacom, Discovery, Disney, and News Corp. Yahoo’s new CEO will receive a base salary of $1M, an annual bonus targeted at $2M based on Yahoo’s financial performance, an equity award for 2012 of $6M (vesting over three years), and a $6M stock option (vesting over 2 and a half years). There’s also a one-time retention award with $15M in restricted stock that vests over five years, plus a $15M performance-based stock option vesting over 4 and a half years. To partially compensate Mayer “for forfeiture of compensation from her previous employer” Yahoo is giving her restricted stock worth $14M that will vest through 2014. Mayer will get 20 vacation days a year, up to $25,000 to reimburse her for the legal expenses incurred for the agreement, as well as $50,000 a year to pay for security. She’d better watch out, though. “Ms. Mayer’s bonuses and equity grants will be subject to the Company’s ‘clawback’ policies as in effect from time to time” the document says.
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