Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Yahoo Drops to $15.58 a Share (But Microsoft Still Uninterested)

To be fair, the whole market was dragged down today due to worries about a deepening recession. But Yahoo’s ever-decreasing share price has got to have the company and its investors mighty worried.

Hitting lows not seen since the dot-com doldrums of 2001 and 2002, Yahoo closed at $15.58–down $1.38 or 8.14 percent–giving the troubled Internet giant a market cap of just $22.08 billion.

That is almost exactly half of what Yahoo leadership could have gotten if the company had accepted a takeover offer made by Microsoft at the beginning of February.

Nonetheless, even at these bargain-basement prices, sources at the software giant said that Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer has declared repeatedly at internal gatherings recently that he is not going to make another offer for Yahoo (YHOO) no matter how low it goes.

This seems a little stubborn to BoomTown–a kind of taking-my-marbles-and-going-home attitude–especially given Yahoo still has one of the most highly trafficked sites on the Web and some of its best-known products and services, as well as being the No. 2 player in search.

And Ballmer might well be bluffing, of course. After all, a bargain is a bargain.

Nonetheless, it underscores the reality that Yahoo is probably truly on its own now and must sink or swim on the initiatives and leadership of CEO Jerry Yang and President Sue Decker.

As I have written repeatedly, the pair has increasingly less time to act and must show perceptible improvements in results.

As at most Web companies, most analysts agree the third quarter is probably not a disaster for Yahoo. Instead, all eyes are on the fourth quarter, which is going to be most definitely impacted by the current economic slowdown.

Yahoo has recently hired a former Microsoft exec–Joanne Bradford–to lead its advertising efforts in the key U.S. market. And, while she is well regarded on Madison Avenue, Bradford has her work cut out of her, especially in the hard-hit online display advertising business.

Yahoo also is on pins and needles to see if the Justice Department will try to put the kibosh on its search ad outsourcing deal with Google (GOOG).

Yahoo is hoping to get a big boost in revenue from the partnership, which has many critics. In the current economic environment, the government might be loath to slap down any sign of financial activity, but the uncertainty is not good for Yahoo.

Yahoo’s declining stock price is also sure to impact its talks with Time Warner (TWX) over acquiring its AOL unit. Yahoo does not want to pay anywhere near the $10 billion that the media giant had previously floated as its price for the once-mighty, now-beleaguered AOL.

But Yahoo’s declining market value means it is likely to be able to pony up less and less.

With continuing rumors of layoffs, which I posted about two weeks ago, doing more with less is going to be business as usual at Yahoo, it seems.

And, in fact, heads of various business units at Yahoo have been given marching orders to cut costs, which are quite substantial.

“We might not make all the cuts requested,” said one exec. “But it is going to hurt.”


Latest Video

View all videos »

Search »

Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work