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An energized Yahoo June 21, 2007

Posted by John in Technology.
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Are we seeing a new energy in Yahoo? This week the company delivers back to back news – and it’s big, black headlines. Today’s buzz is about the acquisition of online college sports network Rivals.com for rumored $100 million. The move is intended to bolster Yahoo’s position as an online destination for sports fans, where it competes with ESPN.com, Foxsports. com and others, Miguel Helft writes at New York Times.

The announcement comes just days after the management shake-up at Yahoo, replacing Terry Semel as chief executive with co-founder Jerry Yang. Also in the air are rumors that Yahoo might be buying social network MySpace.com from Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corp.

So whats the deal with Rival.com, what will it do to Yahoo? According to Eric Auchard at Reuters the site brings Yahoo a base of 2 million to 2.5 million fans of high school and college football and basketball – and it is also a measure of Yahoo’s commitment to its media business. Miguel Helft writes that it is not a major acquisition, “but Yahoo executives said buying another content provider underscores the company’s commitment to its media group,” Helft notes.

At PaidContent Staci D Kramer disclose the pricetag for Rival.com as close to $100 million. “For Yahoo, it’s a substantial investment in media at a time when the company’s every move is under a microscope,” she notes. And at BetweenTheLines, Larry Dignan focuses on the local aspect of the deal: “Don’t underestimate the impact on Yahoo’s local reach,” he writes noting that local sports are the primary reason that local newspapers exist. “Couple Rivals.com with Yahoo’s deals with newspapers and you could cobble together some really granular local content that Google won’t easily replicate,” Dignan says.

However at Globe and Mail Mathew Ingram is not excited, saying he don’t find the deal all that interesting. “I still think, like many others, that Yahoo needs something dramatic to really shift the focus of the company – something like a Facebook.com acquisition,” Ingram writes. According to him Yahoo is “just too safe, too tentative and too boring.”

So what will this move (and other potential deals in the air) mean to Yahoo in the long run? Will the company get enough muscles to challenge Google again? Whats the game plan? At HipMojo Ashkan Karbasfrooshan’s makes a metaphor to Scout.com that News Corp bought in August 2005: If history repeats itself, and it always does, and things come in three’s, then maybe this means that Yahoo will next buy a social network and a gaming/tech site, Karbasfrooshan writes referring to News Corp’s acquisition of MySpace and gaming site IGN when buying Scout.com. And Kevin Kelleher, writing at GigaOM, says that it’s growing evident that “the bigger force driving these events is a plan to put Yahoo on the block”.

Well see about that – and keep monitoring Yahoo closely in the coming weeks.

By Tina Magnergard Bjers and John Furrier

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