Yahoo back in the market

Contact:  Brian Satterfield

For the past two years, Yahoo has been mostly quiet on the M&A front. But with the appointment of CEO Marissa Mayer in July 2012, the company has headed back into the market with what appears to be a refocused strategy.

In the first three months of 2013, Yahoo has already made four acquisitions, twice as many as it inked in 2012 and equal to its entire 2011 total. (We’d note that both of its 2012 purchases came after Mayer took the CEO job.) The company’s 2013 transactions, including yesterday’s pickup of mobile recommendation application Jybe, have all been small and focused solely on the online services and mobile applications sectors.

This strategy is a distinct departure from Yahoo’s activity during its M&A heyday. Between 2005 and 2009, the company made 36 acquisitions valued at $2.4bn, representing almost 60% of all the deals it’s inked and more than 40% of all the money it has spent on M&A. In that four-year period, the company announced a half-dozen transactions valued at more than $100m, buying into sectors outside of its core online activities such as enterprise and consumer software, IT services and networking.

Since the beginning of 2010, Yahoo has inked just 15 deals valued at $400m, only one of which has been larger than $100m. In that same period, Yahoo has also been forced to divest some of its more well-known, stand-alone businesses, including HotJobs, Zimbra and Yahoo’s $350m purchase of Zimbra in 2007 seems a particularly egregious misstep for the company, which eventually sold the collaboration vendor to VMware less than three years later for only $100m.

Rumors are also swirling that Yahoo is in negotiations to buy a majority interest in video-sharing website Dailymotion. Just last month, France Telecom bought the remaining 51% stake in Dailymotion, valuing the entire company at $156m.