Yahoo used to be bigger than Apple, Google, and Amazon. Now it might sell itself for scrap

Yahoo’s board of directors is discussing whether to sell its “core business,” otherwise known as the parts of the company that aren’t stakes in Alibaba or Yahoo Japan, and are currently valued at less than nothing by investors. Per the Wall Street Journal, which broke the story (paywall):

Directors are likely to discuss whether to proceed with a plan to spin off its investment in Alibaba, currently worth more than $30 billion, find a buyer for Yahoo’s gaggle of Web properties, or both, the people said.

After a nice bump in trading Wednesday (Dec. 2), Yahoo has a market cap of nearly $34 billion, including the Alibaba and Yahoo Japan stakes. In late 2004, Yahoo alone was worth nearly $52 billion. That was a bigger market cap at the time than Amazon ($16 billion), Apple ($25 billion), and a freshly IPO’d Google ($49 billion). While far from the heights of the dot-com bubble—when the market valued Yahoo at north of $100 billion—the company was a tech industry giant.

Since then, Google became an advertising behemoth, Apple became the iPhone, and Amazon became a tiny sliver of profit resting upon increasingly enormous revenue streams. Yahoo’s fortunes have been … less fortunate. It’s market value hit about $56 billion in late 2005 and hasn’t seen that level since. That the company is even thinking about selling its core business is a sign that CEO Marissa Mayer’s turnaround strategy isn’t going as expected.

Things could always be worse. Just a few months ago, fellow former dot-com dynasty AOL sold itself to Verizon for $4.4 billion, not even 2% of what it was worth just before its ill-fated combination with Time Warner in 2000.

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