What went wrong at Yahoo, and what happens next


Any takers?

So Yahoo is ready to sell, like, yesterday, but who's buying?

Market watchers peg Verizon, the Daily Mail and to a lesser extent Microsoft to be the front runners of the 40 or so companies eyeing Yahoo. Google and Time, Inc. have also emerged as possible buyers.

After Microsoft's failed buyout, it partnered with the company to show Bing search results on Yahoo's browser. Today, Bing and advertising populate 51% of Yahoo's search engine, with the remaining 49% originating from Google's engine. Both companies stand to lose access to this partnership if Yahoo sells to the wrong buyer.

It's likely Microsoft won't buy the company outright, according to USA Today, though it could partner with or finance a private third party's bid in return for retaining access to the search engine.

Google, meanwhile, could strengthen its hold on web traffic and cripple Bing through an acquisition. However, the risk here is public backlash and likely antitrust lawsuits over creating a web search monopoly. Experts predict Google will back away from the deal.

Verizon is currently the primary front runner, according to the Wall Street Journal. It made waves last year when it purchased another fallen tech giant, AOL, for over $4 billion. Fortune reports that Verizon's telecom revenue has stagnated, and it's looking to diversify into AOL's online advertising and news sources like The Huffington Post.

Purchasing Yahoo for its similar assets is Verizon's logical next step to continue expanding into the online advertising sector.

Meanwhile, Daily Mail General Trust (DMGT) is hoping to offset its losses in the traditional print market with greater strength in the online sector. Sources at the BBC suggest DMGT is, like Microsoft, considering partnering with a private equity firm.

The firm would acquire Yahoo's web business and DMGT would either own and operate Yahoo's media outlets independently, or merge its own news sources with Yahoo's.

Daily Mail's tabloid-esque sites already attract tens of millions of UK viewers monthly; the US market could be next on its agenda.

Time, Inc., another print conglomerate hoping to peddle its print wares to Yahoo's 1 billion users, could save the company from having to sell at all. Time, which recently broke off from Time Warner Cable, could merge with Yahoo under a Reverse Morris trust, according to Bloomberg.

This tax law allows Yahoo to acquire a spin-off company's assets without being taxed for them. This would preserve Yahoo's autonomy and finances temporarily, but might not cure either company's monetary troubles.

Whichever company buys Yahoo, the brand will continue to exist and draw in readers and viewers, though certain news brands may be shuttered or subsumed into other sites.

Mayer will almost certainly be ousted, and a buyout by Verizon could also lead to thousands of layoffs for Yahoo's current workforce. Word is AOL CEO Tim Armstrong and Verizon EVP Marni Walden would run the show if the carrier comes out on top.

This may be the end of Yahoo as we've known if for 21 years, but it's really just the beginning of a whole new chapter for the once-great firm. Will it be a happy one, or will we be adding a new tragedy to the company's long history of heartache in a few years? Only time will tell.

Michael Hicks

Michael Hicks began his freelance writing career with TechRadar in 2016, covering emerging tech like VR and self-driving cars. Nowadays, he works as a staff editor for Android Central, but still writes occasional TR reviews, how-tos and explainers on phones, tablets, smart home devices, and other tech.