Benner on Tech: Yahoo Teases an Asset Sale

Katie Benner is a Bloomberg View columnist who writes about technology, innovation, and the cult and culture of Silicon Valley. She lives in San Francisco.
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People are Talking About ...

Yahoo had a pretty bad quarter ... even worse than expected. Re/code’s preview of the company’s financial results was among the most skeptical out there; even that report seemed too optimistic after the numbers came in. 

Here’s the quarter by the numbers:

Revenue: $1.2 billion, vs. $1.1 billion in Q1 last year.

Revenue ex-TAC (meaning after paying ad partners): $1.04 billion, vs. $1.09 billion last year and below the $1.07 billion expected by Wall Street analysts.

Net earnings: 2 cents a share, vs. 29 cents a share last year.

Non-GAAP net earnings: 15 cents a share, vs. 38 cents a share last year. Analysts had expected 18 cents a share.

Even so, the stock rose after the bell because Chief Executive Marissa Mayer said she’d “hired advisers to consider opportunities to maximize value for its stake of about 35 percent in Yahoo Japan Corp., valued at more than $8 billion.” She bought herself another year of investor patience. Hopefully she can make the big turnaround happen in that time.

The Scorpion and the Frog

Do you remember Gurbaksh Chahal? He’s the former CEO of RadiumOne who pled guilty to two counts of misdemeanor domestic violence and battery. Forbes reminds us that “he was charged with 45 felony counts for allegedly hitting and kicking his girlfriend 117 times over a half-hour period and smothering her with a pillow” before he cut a plea deal. (Re/code has the complaint.) He was forced to step down from RadiumOne, where he was also chairman of the board; and he quietly started a new company a few months later called Gravity4. 

He popped up in the news again because Erika Alonso, Gravity4’s senior VP of global marketing, sued Chahal and the company for harassment and gender and age discrimination. She also said that Chahal had secretly and illegally spied on her. Forbes again:

When Alonso came to interview at Gravity4, the lawsuit says she was told the company was having a hard time hiring women … When she came in for a job interview last November, Alonso was taken into a conference room, grilled about her thoughts on Chahal’s criminal history and asked repeatedly if she believed he had assaulted his girlfriend, according to the lawsuit. Alonso later learned that the conference room was bugged with cameras and microphones and that Chahal had been watching the interview from another room and texting questions to the interviewer.

Earnings Roundup

VMWare’s first-quarter profit beat analysts’ estimates, even though the software maker’s revenue growth has slowed. The company lowered its sales forecast for the year. (Bloomberg)

Reporting today: Facebook, EBay, Qualcomm and AT&T.

Ventureland

Path is in talks to sell Path Classic, a social networking app that never took off in the U.S. but has done well in Indonesia. South Korea’s KakaoTalk is the potential buyer. (Re/code)

The Justin Bieber-backed selfie app Shots is doing well. (the Wall Street Journal)

People and Personnel Moves

Peter Hazlehurst has left the delivery startup Postmates, where he’s been the COO for the past seven months. (Re/code)

Jesse Cohn, the activist from Elliott Management who threatens to push tech companies into the arms of private equity firms to get them to make drastic changes, will lead Elliott’s private-equity strategy. (Bloomberg)

Companies

Amazon started Amazon Destinations, a hotel and travel service on Amazon.com that lists hotel vacancies and suggests travel getaways. (Skift)

Apple Watch developers are being offered a Sport version of the watch with guaranteed shipment by April 28. (Mac Rumors) The company is backing two large solar farms in China. (Bloomberg) OSX Yosemite users are still vulnerable to attacks through a backdoor called Rootpipe. (The Register)

Facebook is increasing how much content we see from our close friends in a move that could potentially cut back on the number of posts we see from corporations and news organizations. (Time)

Google could kick off its wireless phone service this week, which will run on top of Sprint’s and T-Mobile’s networks. (the Wall Street Journal)

Twitter updated its policies to continue to crack down on abuse and harassment that’s prevalent on the service.

Security Watch

“The adversaries are out-maneuvering the industry, out-gunning the industry and winning by every measure,” RSA Security president Amit Yoran said during his keynote at the RSA Conference, the world's biggest cybersecurity confab. (USA Today)

The Department of Homeland Security is opening an office in Silicon Valley to build bridges with tech companies. (the Hill)

The FBI and the TSA are investigating whether a hacker could use the in-flight Wi-Fi system to infiltrate a plane’s navigation system, spurred on after a security researcher joke-tweeted that he was going to try to hack the plane. (Wired)

Media Files

Comcast’s record of compliance on the conditions it agreed to when it acquired NBCUniversal could influence whether regulators approve its deal to buy Time Warner Cable. (the New York Times)

News and Notes

The Internet’s reach is slowing, and it will take much longer than tech companies think to get the developing world online. (the Wall Street Journal)

Tech lobbying is ramping up. Google and Comcast spent record amounts on lobbying efforts in the first quarter of 2015 as both companies remain trapped in long political negotiations. (the Guardian) Apple increased lobbying spending by 16 percent in the first quarter of the year to $1.24 million, and focused on mobile payments. (Bloomberg)

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the editor on this story:
Maria Lamagna at mlamagna@bloomberg.net