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Yahoo escaped a slow death inside Verizon to teach us one final lesson about the internet

4 10 7
07.05.2021

Nearly a decade ago I gave a talk at Yahoo's Sunnyvale, Calif., headquarters. The subject was my book, Inside Apple, which offered a deep dive into the secretive and idiosyncratic culture Steve Jobs built during his second reign at the company he co-founded.

I was on the circuit that year, speaking to groups large and small. Some were Apple product aficionados, eager to know how the magic happened. Many sought to glean tips for how to apply Apple's unusual techniques to their business. I'll never forget the palpable hunger among the Yahoo employees — about a thousand showed up — to figure out what Apple had that they didn't.

I thought about that moment when Yahoo agreed to change hands, again, this time in a $5-billion sale to private-equity firm Apollo Global Management. As this handy-dandy history from the newsletter startup chartr shows, that's about the same amount Verizon paid for Yahoo in 2017. Now Verizon is tossing in AOL, which it bought a couple years earlier for mor than $4 billion. Once upon a time Yahoo was worth $125 billion; several years later it turned down a Microsoft offer to buy it for $44 billion.

The sale left me with two questions: What went wrong and what will Apollo do now?

The reasons for Yahoo's long, slow decline are too many to list. It repeatedly was either too slow to realize the right strategy or too inept to execute its astute strategic moves. It spent billions on Broadcast.com (the source of Mark Cuban's wealth) but stood by while Netflix rose to prominence. It bought a Web 1.0 company called GeoCities that could have been the next MySpace or Facebook but wasn't. The same........

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