From Max Chafkin and Brian Womack writing at Bloomberg:
Think of Yahoo as a traditional enterprise (with all the assets just mentioned) stuck on top of a small safe deposit box. Inside that box: a huge pile of cash, plus stock certificates of two Asian tech companies. Yahoo owns about 15 percent of Internet giant Alibaba, a stake that would trade on the open market for roughly $29 billion. It also has a 36 percent holding (worth about $9 billion) in Yahoo! Japan, a publicly traded company based in Tokyo that long ago abandoned Yahoo’s search technology for Google’s. If you add up the cash and the stocks, you’ll notice that the value of the contents of the box totals $43 billion. That’s $8 billion more than the market capitalization of Yahoo, $35 billion, which includes the company and the stuff in that imaginary box. The implication: Everything you think of as Yahoo—apps, websites, employees, computers, buildings—has a negative value.
A more charitable analysis, where one imagines Yahoo selling its stock and paying the full corporate tax rate, yields a depressing result: Its operating business might be worth $6 billion.
This discrepancy, or the “significantly negative value” of Yahoo’s operating business, as the hedge fund Starboard Value put it in an exasperated letter in November, is also a withering assessment of Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s chief executive officer, who until recently was one of Silicon Valley’s brightest stars.
“It’s hard to get someone of this caliber,” the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen said when Mayer’s hiring was announced in 2012. Andreessen celebrated the move as a bold departure from what had been a series of ineffectual CEOs—Mayer was the sixth in five years—who’d allowed Yahoo to fall behind Google and Facebook. Investors were charmed, as were the media, which found in Mayer, 40, something severely lacking in most techies: glamour. Mayer, “an unusually stylish geek,” as Vogue described her in 2013, was the rare Silicon Valley figure who could credibly attend both an all-night hackathon and a Met Gala after-party.
Read the rest of the story at Bloomberg.