Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

As Yahoo Readies Doling Out Alibaba Billions to Shareholders, Mayer Memo Says Tech Reporters Can’t Add

Yahoo could announce in the coming week what it plans to do with the billions of dollars it recently garnered after closing the sale of a portion of its stake in China’s Alibaba, according to sources close to the situation.

As AllThingsD has previously reported, the company is most likely to do a share buyback with the $3.65 billion, a move that could boost its still-lackluster stock.

That’s what happened when AOL did one in late June after it got a pile of cash from hawking its patent assets. Its shares are up more than 25 percent for those last three months, while Yahoo’s have gone up less than one percent in the same time frame.

When it announced the completion of the deal in mid-September, Yahoo said that it would hand over 85 percent of the after-tax proceeds to shareholders. (The Silicon Valley Internet giant will keep about $650 million for its own use.)

At the time of the transaction, a Yahoo spokeswoman said that the company declined to give any specifics around the form of return. The company could also, for example, decide to give investors a dividend, too, although Yahoo has long explicitly favored stock buybacks.

“The form and timing of returning proceeds will be determined by the board and management, taking into consideration the best interests of the company and its shareholders,” said the Yahoo flack.

Speaking of flak, new CEO Marissa Mayer tried to give some to tech journalists, some of whom have been giving her a bit of a hard time of late for showing signs of potentially being too spendy.

In a memo to staff announcing the date of its employee holiday party — it’ll be on December 1 on Pier 48 in San Francisco — Mayer took issue with a particular report from Business Insider about how she tussled over costs with departing CFO Tim Morse, whom she ousted last week.

Business Insider claimed that included her taking the price of the holiday shindig from $100,000 to $3 million, due in part to a change in venue location.

Mayer begged to differ, noting in the internal memo that the event would not bust the bank and still be tons of fun:

“Building on the theme of tech reporters not being great with math or numbers, rumors of this year’s party budget have been greatly exaggerated.”

(Is there actual time for tech reporters being math-impaired to become a theme that’s being built upon at Yahoo? I thought Mayer said the company would be building innovative products.)

But since we in the media are apparently dunces, I suppose we’ll just have to rely on Yahoo’s own numbers from its last quarter — which I embedded below — to tell the tale of continuous troubling declines in search queries and page views, declines in minutes spent on its media properties, declines in growth of unique visitors and flat-as-a-sugar-cookie growth in revenue.

Or, as Mae West famously said in the most delightful math quote ever: “A man has one hundred dollars and you leave him with two dollars. That’s subtraction.”

So is this Q2 financial performance at Yahoo — which is certainly not Mayer’s fault since she just arrived, but will be her responsibility to fix going forward:


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Nobody was excited about paying top dollar for a movie about WikiLeaks. A film about the origins of Pets.com would have done better.

— Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”