Biz Break: Yahoo’s core strength may be getting soft

Top Of The Order: 

A Few More Sit-Ups Might Help: Go into any gym today and you’ll probably be hit with talk about how you need to build up your core. Core strength is everything, right? Without a strong core, your back and knees can give out and then you end up a mess of flab and weak bones.

And few tech companies are currently seen as weaker than Yahoo, and its core might be getting too soft to save.

According to what the Information is calling “confidential internal data,” three of Yahoo’s core products — Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Search and the company’s Yahoo.com home page — are far from six-pack-ab status. The data, which charts usage between December 2014 and December 2015, purports to show declines in average usage of all three Yahoo products no matter how one wants to measure them.

Over that year, daily average users (DAUs) of Yahoo Mail declined 11.5 percent, to 56.9 million users. The Yahoo.com homepage saw a decline of 16.5 percent for DAUs, to 52.6 million. And Yahoo Search DAUs fell to 43.5 million, off by almost 9 percent year-over-year. Usage of all three core products also fell on mobile devices and in terms of total minutes a day.

The problem with this, aside from suggesting that fewer and people people use Yahoo for anything, is that much of the talk about whatever value Yahoo might have left has centered around its core businesses. If that core isn’t attractive and in shape, then what could Yahoo use to entice possible buyers as it explores “strategic alternatives”? Maybe Chief Executive Marisa Mayer could offer free zamboni rides?

Middle Innings:

And You Thought Taylor vs. Kanye Was Big: One of the biggest bouts since the Thrilla In Manila began shaping up Wednesday as Apple threw down the gauntlet against the FBI.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said his company wouldn’t bow down to a demand to help the FBI, in effect, hack into the iPhone 5c that belonged to San Bernadino shooter Syed Farook. In a letter he posted on Apple’s website, Cook said Apple couldn’t comply with a federal court order to build a “backdoor” method of breaking into Farook’s phone. The problem from the FBI’s standpoint is that a passcode is needed to unlock the phone. And when such a feature is enabled, the phone will give you 10 tries to get the four-digit passcode correct. But if you mess up on the 11th try, the phone’s data will be erased.

“The U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create,” Cook said in his letter. “They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.”

And with 10,000 possible code combinations, it’s easy to see why the FBI might want some help getting into the phone. Imagine agents Mulder and Scully standing around the phone in the bowels of the FBI’s headquarters, just daring each other to try another code.

What’s $10 Million Between Family Members?: Let’s get the bad jokes out of the way early. For the past year, the sun has been setting on SolarCity. Actually, it’s been more like one of those winters in up at Barrow, Alaska, where the sun doesn’t climb above the horizon for months and people have to gorge on chocolate to keep up whatever spirits they have left.

If you bought SolarCity stock on May 14 of last year, you should have sold it the next day. Because on May 15, SolarCity shares hit a 52-week-high of $63.79. By last Friday, the stock had lost almost 74 percent of its value. And then, the sun began to rise for SolarCity. On Tuesday, SolarCity shares rose almost 6 percent, and then on Wednesday, the company’s stock surged to close with a gain of more than 13 percent, at $20.79.

This is what happens when Elon Musk puts a loose $10 million into your company.

On Wednesday, it was revealed that last Friday, Musk bought $10 million worth of SolarCity stock, and at a relative bargain of $17.56 a share, according to a regulatory filing. You need to remember that while Musk is best known for being the CEO of Tesla Motors, he is also the chairman of SolarCity, which he helped start along with his cousins, Lyndon and Peter Rive.

Musk’s $10 million stock purchase is kind of like the equivalent of the NBA star who gets a nine-figure contract and then buys fancy cars for all his relatives and friends from back home. SolarCity may be like the team that’s in perpetual rebuilding mode. And if Musk is its star player, he’d be smart to remember to put a few bucks away for when his playing days are over.

Bottom Of The Lineup:

Here’s a look at how some leading Silicon Valley tech stocks did Wednesday…

Movin’ On Up: SolarCity had a good day, but SilverSpring Networks did even better, as its shares rose 13.2 percent. GoPro continued to gain ground for no notable reason, with its shares rising 12 percent. Pandora Media and Impax Laboratories shares each rose more than 11 percent, and Tesla Motors (There’s Cousin Elon, again) climbed almost 9 percent on the day.

In The Red: Video-infrastructure technology company Harmonic fell 5.7 percent in the wake of a disappointing quarterly report late Tuesday. Losses also came from Sanmina, YuMe, Gilead Sciences and Applied Micro Circuits.

The SV150 Index of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies rose 36 points, or 2.6 percent, to 1,461.

The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite Index added 98 points, or 2.2 percent, to close at 4,534.

The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed by 257 points, or 1.6 percent, to end the day at 16,453.

And the broad-based Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 31 points, or 1.7 percent, to close at 1,926.

Quote Of The Day: “If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” — Theodore Roosevelt

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Photo: Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer at the Yahoo Mobile Developer’s Conference in San Francisco in 2015. (AP/Eric Risberg)

 

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  • Sherlocktoo

    Yahoo’s core, is the liberal progressive agenda. Now we see why they are falling. When the core is rotten, it doesn’t take long for it to work it’s way to the outside.

    • James38

      Hey paranoid teabagger, being paranoid doesn’t mean someone isn’t after you.

      Idiot.

      • jswap

        “Just because you’re paranoid, don’t mean they’re not after you”

  • James38

    I don’t see how Apple could do it anyway. Retrofitting a phone with a backdoor may be impossible, and they can’t help the feds with that phone even if they agree to backdoor all future phones.

    So are the feds asking the impossible to get the future backdoor? Not much wonder that Apple is refusing.

  • Kevin

    Paying the price of becoming left wing trash. They should listen to their customers but they don’t, so into the toilet like AOL.

  • jswap

    There are more ads disguised as news stories on the Yahoo front page than there are news stories.

  • Eddie Poe

    I used to know some Yahoo employees who would brag about how much they got paid. Whey dey at now?

  • Reed More

    Part of what makes you a winner in tech is the perception that you are innovating and providing value. Hard to have that credibility with your customer when everyday there is an article in the news about all of your failures.

    Marissa and her “investor” husband made this about their little narcissistic selves (think Vanity Fair) instead of the customer.

    The brand is done.

 
 
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