Yahoo! couldn't! even! strike! deal! with! Yahoo! Japan!
US biz wanted to flog stake in Japanese joint venture
Yahoo! Japan confirmed today that it held talks on buying the stake Yahoo! Inc owns in the Asian joint venture, but the pair couldn't reach any agreement.
The Japanese web portal's chief financial officer Toshiki Ohya said the door was still open for further negotiations, Reuters reported. Yahoo! Japan was formed in a pact between telco Softbank and Yahoo! Inc in 1996.
Last week, Yahoo! chief exec Scott Thompson said in an earnings call that there would be no deal because Yahoo! Japan wouldn't stump up enough cash for his company's shares in the Asian biz.
"While we plan to continue exploring alternatives to unlock the value of our Yahoo! Japan stake for shareholders, any transaction has to be at a value that makes sense for Yahoo! and its shareholders," he said.
"We currently have a valuation gap with respect to the Yahoo! Japan stake that we have not been able to bridge."
Ohya gave the same sort of careful description of the circumstances today, ensuring no bridges were unnecessarily torched: "We want to positively consider resuming negotiations if the conditions are right," he said.
Yahoo! is looking for ways to make money from its Asian assets in order to throw cash into its troubled US business, which perhaps doesn't put the firm in the strongest of bargaining positions.
Alibaba, the Chinese group Yahoo! holds a stake in, has made no secret of the fact that it wants its shares back. Thompson said last week that talks with Alibaba were "active" but didn't give a lot of details on the prospective deal.
"We are currently exploring a simplified transaction structure, which if executed would provide greater certainty of closing to monetise a portion of our Alibaba stake," he said. ®
Deathtrap of Yahoo
I think Yahoo is in a deathtrap now. Most of their residual value is in email, and email has gone to the spammers. Yahoo can't afford to fix the problems, and as the value of Yahoo email continues to decline, so does Yahoo's value. Another way to think of it is like an underwater mortgage...
There might be a solution, but I'm convinced Yahoo no longer has the resources or competence to implement it. Hint: They would need to INCREASE the value of email by REDUCING the spam. My suggestion would essentially be a kind of neighborhood watch against spammers, though I admit that vigilante justice sounds better. (Of course it wouldn't actually work that way, because Yahoo would be in the middle of the loop and retaining control.)
Imagine an anti-spam solution similar to SpamCop, but on steroids. Rather than a single confirmation targeting a spammer's ISP and webhosts, it would be a multi-pass analysis with gradual refinement and targeting ALL of the spammers' accomplices and breaking ALL of the spammers' infrastructure and helping ALL of the spammers' victims. You don't have to volunteer to help. I would, and I think there are some other people out there who also hate spam, and all I think we really need is more spam haters than suckers who feed the spammers.
Actually, that raises an interesting new question: How many suckers does it take to sustain each spammer? The ratio of spam to sucker is obviously so enormous that it's hard to conceive of, but the ratio of spam-feeder to spammer must be much lower. It actually seems from the recent spam trends that some spammers are deliberately targeting larger fish, as in religious fools who can be conned by pseudo-charity appeals.