After 21 years on the open market, it’s likely that Yahoo will soon no longer be a publicly traded company. On Tuesday, Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s CEO, issued a statement marking Yahoo’s “final quarter as an independent company” that accompanied what is set to be its last public quarterly earnings report. The company’s revenue for the first quarter of 2017, at $834 million, was slightly better than analysts expected, which some have taken as an indication of the beleaguered company’s remaining potential.
Last year, Yahoo announced that it would sell its core internet business—its search engine and websites—to Verizon, and that $4.5 billion deal will close in June. Verizon’s plan is to combine Yahoo with AOL and use the two struggling internet pioneers to strengthen Verizon’s push into mobile and video ad sales. The resulting company, which will be called Oath, will reportedly be run by Tim Armstrong, the current CEO of AOL. (Mayer will step down from Yahoo’s board of directors once the deal closes.)
Yahoo’s core business has been struggling for years as it lost ground to competitors like Facebook and Google. As this happened, investors have been slowly writing off the company’s core business, and Yahoo’s corporate assets—stakes in Yahoo Japan and the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba that are worth nearly $45 billion—became crucial to the company’s market value. Eventually, the market’s valuation of Yahoo became more about its assets than its internet operations. At one point, factoring out its lucrative Alibaba and Yahoo Japan stakes, markets actually considered the core business to be worth less than $0—a notion that many analysts found absurd. Still, Yahoo’s decision to sell off its original business to the highest bidder is a path struggling companies often take, as being acquired does bring some benefits. *