Yahoo is currently in the midst of selecting a buyer for its core assets and according to Kara Swisher at Recode, both strategics and PE firms are in the running. Prospective buyers include Verizon, TPG, Bain Capital, and Vista Equity Partners.
Regardless of who ends up winning the battle for Yahoo, it’ll be interesting to see if the ultimate acquirer chooses to unload any of Yahoo’s independent assets.
Despite being one of the most prolific acquirers of late (almost 50 acquisitions from 2013 to 2014 alone) – nearly every acquisition has been folded into Yahoo’s core business or no longer exists.
There are some exceptions however. Shopping site Polyvore (Yahoo’s most recent acquisition), mobile analytics provider Flurry, Tumblr, Flickr, and Rivals.com all exist independently. Flickr and Tumblr are certainly the most well-known units that could be sold – however, despite massive reach, it’s not clear (or obvious) how well either of them would do as standalone businesses.
To me, the most intriguing non-core potential target within Yahoo is Rivals.com.
Rivals is a high-school sports enthusiast website focused on where college bound athletes will attend. Yahoo acquired Rivals for $100M in 2007 (from a group who had acquired it out of bankruptcy following the web 1.0 bust) and integrated the site loosely within its Yahoo Sports platform. Despite all the management upheaval at the parent level, Rivals appears just as relevant today as it was when it was acquired. Yahoo doesn’t break out the financials of the site, however its subscription based business model targeting enthusiasts, as well as its reach would no doubt appeal to a number of acquirers.
The fate of Yahoo is certainly the bigger question mark at the moment – but it’s hard not to wonder what will happen to some of the assets its picked up along the way.