Teen sells app to Yahoo for $30 million, and he’s still in high school

SUNNYVALE, Calif. , Tue Mar 26, 2013 — One of Yahoo’s newest employees is a 17-year-old high school student in Britain. As of Monday, he is one of its richest, too.

That student, Nick D’Aloisio of Great Britain, a programming whiz who wasn’t even born when Yahoo was founded in 1994, sold his news-reading app, Summly, to the company on Monday for a sum said to be in the tens of millions of dollars. Yahoo said it would incorporate his algorithmic invention, which takes long-form stories and shortens them for readers using smartphones, in its own mobile apps, with D’Aloisio’s help.

“I’ve still got a year and a half left at my high school,” he said in a telephone interview on Monday. But he will make arrangements to test out of his classes and work from the Yahoo office in London, partly to abide by the company’s new and much-debated policy that prohibits working from home.

D’Aloisio, who declined to comment on the price paid by Yahoo (the technology news site AllThingsD pegged the purchase price at about $30 million), was Summly’s largest shareholder.

Summly’s other investors, improbably enough, included Wendi Murdoch, Ashton Kutcher and Yoko Ono. The most important one was Li Ka-shing, the Hong Kong billionaire, whose investment fund supported D’Aloisio’s idea early on, before it was even called Summly.

“They took a gamble on me when I was a 15-year-old,”  D’Aloisio said, by providing seed financing that let him hire employees and lease office space.

Facebook, Yahoo tie up, settle lawsuits, according to source

SAN FRANCISCO | Fri Jul 6, 2012 – Facebook Inc. and Yahoo Inc. have struck a broad advertising partnership as part of a final settlement of dueling patent lawsuits, technology blog AllThingsDigital cited sources close to the pact as saying on Friday.
Both boards approved a strategic deal that will encompass joint online advertising sales and cross-licensing of key patents. No money will change hands in the deal to be announced later on Friday, it added.
Yahoo sued Facebook in March, claiming the No. 1 social networking company infringed 10 patents including several that cover online advertising technology. In its lawsuit, the company said Facebook was considered “one of the worst performing sites for advertising” prior to adopting Yahoo’s ideas.
Facebook, which went public in May, filed a countersuit of its own a month later and called Yahoo short-sighted for its decision to prioritize “litigation over innovation.”
Yahoo brought its lawsuit while the company was under the leadership of then-CEO Scott Thompson. Thompson was ousted from the company shortly after the case began, amid questions about his resume.
On Thursday, sources told Reuters that Hulu CEO Jason Kilar and current interim CEO Ross Levinsohn are now in the final running for the top job.
Facebook has been beefing up its patents arsenal. In April, it announced to deal to pay Microsoft Corp $550 million for hundreds of patents that originated with AOL.

Yahoo hires former Google director to lead ad revenue

SAN FRANCISCO, Mon Jun 18, 2012 – Yahoo Inc. has hired former Google director and media veteran Michael Barrett to help lead its efforts to re-emerge as an entertainment and information destination that wins advertising revenue.

Barrett, who will take the title of Chief Revenue Officer, is one of new interim CEO Ross Levinsohn’s first key appointments, underscoring signs that Yahoo – a company that has suffered from strategy flip-flops under successive CEOs – is now thinking of itself as more of a media company than a technology company.

Those close to Levinsohn have said he is committed to building out Yahoo’s own video programming and striking more syndication deals in pursuit of ads that command a higher price.

This will be the second time that Barrett and Levinsohn have worked together. Both were once at Fox Interactive Media where Barrett also held the title of Chief Revenue Officer and oversaw worldwide revenue for properties including MySpace and FoxSports.com.

Barrett was most recently at Google where he led integration efforts following the acquisition of digital advertising platform Admeld Inc. where he served as CEO.

He will assume his new position in July and be responsible for Yahoo’s ad revenue and operations globally.

Yahoo set for growth post management reshuffle: analysts

SAN FRANCISCO, Mon May 14, 2012 – Yahoo Inc.’s sweeping out of its chief executive and settling of a proxy fight with an investor open a path for stable growth for the troubled company, analysts said.

On Sunday, Yahoo said its global media head, Ross Levinsohn, will be interim CEO. Levinsohn, who made his name running News Corp.’s Fox digital business, is often mentioned as a CEO contender.

Scott Thompson was the third CEO Yahoo replaced in as many years. The company also gave three board seats to a hedge fund led by Daniel Loeb.

Analysts were positive about Levinsohn’s appointment. His background is seen to be essential for Yahoo to strengthen its media offering and improve its display advertising business.

“While this likely prolongs current turnaround efforts at the company, it may create a more stable and focused organization going forward,” said ThinkEquity’s Ronald Josey.

Yahoo could avoid a proxy fight and now has a board which will be more proactive and shareholder-friendly, said J.P. Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth.

However, Anmuth said the management shuffle and board changes raised questions about the timing of the possible sale of Yahoo’s stake in China’s Alibaba Group. A delay there may disappoint short-term investors.

Yahoo shares, which are up 5 percent since Third Point disclosed a stake in the company in September last year, closed at $15.19 on Friday on the Nasdaq.

Yahoo CEO apologizes in memo, board meets: source

SAN FRANCISCO, Tue May 8, 2012 – Yahoo Inc.’s board convened on Monday afternoon to discuss the mounting upset surrounding Chief Executive Scott Thompson, who has apologized to employees after being accused last week by activist investor Daniel Loeb of padding his resume, a source with knowledge of the matter said.

The source, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the board meeting was expected to address aspects of an internal review, including which board members would participate.

Thompson issued an apology for the fallout from disclosures about his academic credentials in an emailed memo to Yahoo employees on Monday, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.

The memo came hours after Loeb, chief executive of hedge fund Third Point, which holds 5.8 percent of Yahoo’s shares, formally demanded in a letter that the Internet company turn over all records related to Thompson’s hiring.

“I want you to know how deeply I regret how this issue has affected the company and all of you,” Thompson wrote in his first extended memo to employees since the disclosures emerged on May 3. “We have all been working very hard to move the company forward and this has had the opposite effect. For that, I take full responsibility, and I want to apologize to you.”

Thompson added that he would “respect” the board’s plans to conduct a thorough and independent review.

“I am hopeful that this matter will be concluded promptly,” he wrote. “But, in the meantime, we have a lot of work to do.”

Yahoo, whose revenue slid by more than a fifth last year, brought in Thompson, former president of eBay Inc. subsidiary PayPal, as chief executive in January, five months after Carol Bartz was fired.

Yahoo board to review CEO’s education records

SAN FRANCISCO, Fri May 4, 2012 – Yahoo Inc.’s board of directors will review a discrepancy in the educational record of its chief executive, Scott Thompson, a spokesman told Reuters, after activist hedge fund Third Point accused Thompson of padding his academic credentials.

Yahoo will also make an appropriate disclosure to shareholders when the review is complete, the spokesman said.

On Thursday, Third Point’s founder and chief executive, Dan Loeb, wrote in a letter to Yahoo’s board that Thompson claims to hold a bachelor’s degree in accounting and computer science from Stonehill College near Boston, but said Thompson “embellished his academic credentials” because the CEO’s degree is in accounting only.

Third Point owns 5.81 percent of Yahoo’s shares and has been fighting to gain seats on the company’s board.

Early on Thursday, a Yahoo spokesman called the discrepancy an “inadvertent error.”

“Scott Thompson received a bachelor of science degree in business administration with a major in accounting from Stonehill college,” the spokesman said in an emailed statement. “There was an inadvertent error that stated Mr. Thompson also holds a degree in computer science,” he added.

Ford, Yahoo reality show to tout electric Focus this spring

NEW YORK/DETROIT, Wed Apr 11, 2012 – Ford  Motor Co. will partner with Yahoo Inc. on a reality show this spring to promote its first electric passenger car, a move that comes as the auto industry is growing more pessimistic about the prospects for these kinds of vehicles.

The show, called “Plugged In,” will be broadcast on Yahoo’s streaming video site starting in May, Ford said in a news release on Tuesday. Three two-person teams will travel to 10 major U.S. cities, including Los Angeles and New York, and compete in a scavenger hunt while driving the Focus Electric.

The show is intended to help Ford reach the electric car’s target group – residents of major U.S. cities, particularly along the East and West coasts, where gasoline prices are higher than the national average. So far this year, Americans have been clamoring for more fuel-efficient vehicles as prices at the pump near $4 a gallon.

The Yahoo deal is also an example of Ford’s increasing use of social media to reach younger, more affluent consumers for less than a tenth the cost of a traditional marketing campaign. Ford declined to comment on its financial contribution to the show.

“We’re being much more targeted and building awareness of the product in a much more efficient way,” John Felice, general manager of Ford and Lincoln sales, said at a news conference at Yahoo’s New York office Tuesday.

But the second-largest U.S. automaker is launching its electric car at a time when industry analysts are expressing doubts about the near-term growth prospects of the vehicles due to their high prices and as traditional gas-powered vehicles become more fuel-efficient.

At the same time, other automakers are launching their own electric cars, making the segment more competitive. The Focus will compete with Nissan Motor Co’s. Leaf, which was introduced in Japan and the United States in December 2010. Honda Motor Co. Ltd., BMW and Fiat will join the fray, as will cars from start-ups, including Tesla Motors Inc.

Ford began production of the Focus Electric in December in Wayne, Mich., on the same assembly line as the gasoline-powered Focus, a move the automaker said gave it the flexibility to adjust to electric vehicle demand.

“It’s very difficult to get a read on what consumers’ adoption will be,” Felice said. “We just know it’s going to grow. We just don’t know how quickly.”

The Focus Electric is expected to be available in 19 U.S. markets by the end of 2012. The five-door hatchback starts at $39,200, excluding taxes and other fees. In some markets, it is eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit.

Yahoo names three new independent directors to board

NEW YORK, Mon Mar 26, 2012 – Yahoo Inc. has appointed three new independent directors as it prepares for a proxy fight with activist hedge fund investor Daniel Loeb.

John D. Hayes, chief marketing officer of American Express; Peter Liguori, former chief operating officer of Discovery Communications, and Thomas J. McInerney, the outgoing chief financial officer of IAC/InterActiveCorp will commence their tenure as directors effective April 5, Yahoo said in a statement on Sunday.

The appointments come as Loeb’s hedge fund Third Point, which has a 5.8 percent stake in Yahoo, has sharply criticized the Internet company’s strategy and launched a campaign to install four directors at its board.

Yahoo said its board had offered to propose Harry Wilson, one of Third Point’s four nominees, and a second person mutually acceptable to both Yahoo and Third Point – outside of its three other nominees – to join the board in order to avoid a proxy fight.

Loeb, who is seeking a board seat for himself, rejected this proposal, according to the Yahoo statement.

“The board believed that there is value in avoiding the cost and distraction that inevitably accompanies a proxy fight, and determined that this proposal was in the best interest of all of its shareholders to avoid that expenditure of resources,” Yahoo said in a statement.

While the board remains open to hearing Third Point’s ideas, it has determined that appointing Loeb to the board is not in the best interest of the company and its shareholders, Yahoo said.

Third Point said in a statement that it had offered several compromises to strike a deal and avoid a proxy contest.

Yahoo-Alibaba asset swap talks falling apart, sources say

SAN FRANCISCO – Talks between Yahoo Inc. and China’s Alibaba Group over the U.S. Internet giant’s Asian assets have hit an impasse, throwing their plans for a $17 billion tax-free asset swap into question, according to sources briefed on the situation.

The snag in negotiations came on the same day that activist investor Daniel Loeb, of hedge fund ThirdPoint, sought to install his own slate of directors on Yahoo’s board, further highlighting the turmoil engulfing the one-time Web pioneer.

Loeb, who has opposed Yahoo’s previous efforts to strike a minority investment deal with private equity, disclosed plans to nominate former NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker, along with himself and two others, for Yahoo’s board in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday.

A collapse of the proposed Asian asset deal – referred to as a cash-rich split-off – would mark the latest setback for an erstwhile Internet leader struggling to turn its business around and appease unhappy shareholders.

Yahoo, whose revenue slid by more than a fifth last year, brought in former PayPal President Scott Thompson as chief executive in January, five months after Carol Bartz was fired.

Two people briefed on the situation described the deal as effectively dead in the water – noting the unreasonable terms sought by Yahoo during talks in Hong Kong and a disconnect between Yahoo’s negotiating team and its strategic stakeholders.

Alibaba Group, whose Chinese e-commerce unit Alibaba.com is listed in Hong Kong, and Japan’s Softbank Corp, which owns around 30 percent of Alibaba, planned to seek clarity on the matter from Yahoo’s Thompson, one of those sources said.

Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang resigns; had been under fire

SAN FRANCISCO  ―Yahoo Inc. co-founder Jerry Yang has quit the company he started in 1995, appeasing shareholders who had blasted the Internet pioneer for pursuing an ineffective personal vision and impeding investment deals that could have transformed the struggling company.

Yang’s abrupt departure comes two weeks after Yahoo appointed Scott Thompson its new CEO, with a mandate to return the once-leading Internet portal to the heights it enjoyed in the 1990s.

Wall Street views the exit of “Chief Yahoo” Yang as smoothing the way for a major infusion of cash from private equity, or a deal to sell off much of its 40 percent slice of China’s Alibaba, unlocking value for shareholders.

Shares of Yahoo gained 3 percent in after-hours trade.

“Everyone is going to assume this means a deal is more likely with the Asia counterparts,” Macquarie analyst Ben Schacter said. “The perception among shareholders was Jerry was more focused on trying to rebuild Yahoo than necessarily on maximizing near-term shareholder value.

“It certainly seems things are coming to a head as far as realizing the value of these assets.”

Yang, who is severing all formal ties with the company by resigning all positions including his seat on the board of directors, has come under fire for his handling of company affairs dating back to an aborted sale to Microsoft in 2008.

Yang’s exit comes roughly a month before dissident shareholders can nominate rival directors to Yahoo’s board.