Biz Break: Yahoo sale talks give Marissa Mayer rationale for being rational

Top Of The Order: 

Maybe A Sale Isn’t A Bad Idea After All?: The Yahoo sale process continues on its prolonged path to some kind of resolution. According to the Recode blog, Yahoo is holding all-day meetings with several bidders as the company goes through Round Two of its efforts to get somebody, anybody, to take Yahoo’s core Internet business, or the entire company itself, off Chief Executive Marissa Mayer’s hands.

Probably spearheading the new round of discussions is the involvement of four new Yahoo board members put forth by activist investor Starboard Value. Those members include Starboard CEO Jeffery Smith, who, according to sources cited by Recode, has been “rational” and “realistic” in the talks with those potential buyers that have made it to the second round of the bidding process.

And it seems that as the road toward a Yahoo sale goes on and on, Mayer has become more involved in the discussions, and more amenable toward getting some kind of deal done. This comes after initial reports cited confusion, disorganization and what seemed to be Mayer doing her best to keep the bidding process from staying on a smooth, and probably inevitable course toward Verizon, or someone else, cutting a big check and sending Mayer on her way with an eight-figure farewell package.

A Yahoo filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week said that Mayer is entitled to a severance package worth almost $55 million, including 15-grand in outplacement services, should she be fired without cause. The getaway payment could also take effect in the event of a “change of control” at the company.

Recode cited a source close to the talks as saying that Smith wants to get as much dough as he can for his investors in a Yahoo sale, and that he will ensure that Mayer “does not try to throw a wrench into the sale.”

A wrench? Why should Mayer throw anything like that into the works if there is $55 million potentially waiting for her at the end of her Yahoo tenure? The only thing Mayer should think about doing is taking a cue from Yahoo’s last holiday shindig and throwing herself one monster farewell party.

Middle Innings:

A PC Odyssey: The PC certainly isn’t dead. Chances are you may be reading this column on your PC. I sure know I’m writing it on one. A Lenovo ThinkPad, for the record.

But, boy, when you read some of the information about the PC market, it’s almost enough to make you think the PC is about to go the way of whale oil lamps.

The latest cloud to cover the PC sector came from research firm Canalys, which released data saying that during the first quarter of this year, worldwide PC sales fell to their lowest level since 2011. Canalys includes desktop PCs, notebooks, two-in-one computers and tablets in its results. And according to Canalys, all those together totaled 101 million units sold worldwide during the first three months of the year…And that was the same level of sales at the end of the second quarter of 2011.

“The global PC market had a bad start to 2016 and it is difficult to see any bright spots for vendors in the coming quarters,” said Canalys senior analyst Tim Coulling.

Yet, what about tablets? Yeah, they aren’t doing any better than any other part of the PC market, according to Coulling. “The tablet boom has faded in the distance and the market is fully mature,” Coulling said.

Coulling added that about the only thing the PC market has going for it is the strength of Apple and Microsoft, but Coulling had to qualify the sentiment there.

“Apple and Microsoft are propping up shipments in established markets with their detachables (tablets), but price points make them less affordable in low-income countries,” Coulling said.

But there have to be new customers looking to buy a PC for the first time, right? You still can’t do everything you need to do on your smartphone yet, can you? Maybe you can’t, but that isn’t helping matters for PC sales at all.

“The number of people looking to buy their first PC is at an all-time low, and 2016 is likely to bring yet more turmoil to global PC vendors,” Coulling said.

Well, on that note…Whale oil lamps do have an kind of old-school charm to them, don’t they?

Blue And Black And Back Again: It might not be as big a controversy as New Coke, but, really, why would Google mess with the color of its links?

Apparently, Google decided over the last few days to experiment with changing the color of its links from its longtime, traditional blue to black. This only happened for a small number of overall Google users but…Needless to say, those small number of users who got the black links didn’t like what they saw and were quick to voice their displeasure in various online forums.

You have to wonder what Google was thinking. This is the Age Of Immediate Feedback, after all. Of course, when you have nothing better to do than let your hackles get raised up over the color of a web link, you are also living in the Age Of First World Problems, too.

Bottom Of The Lineup: 

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

Movin’ On Up: Marketo shares climbed more than 24 percent following reports that the marketing software company has hired Morgan Stanley to explore a possible sale. Gains also came from LinkedIn, FireEye, Gigamon and Glu Mobile.

In The Red: On Monday, SolarCity reported a bigger than expected quarterly loss, and guess what happened Tuesday? That’s right, SolarCity’s shares fell almost 21 percent. Other decliners included InvenSense, Lending Club, Aemetis and Silicon Graphics International.

The SV150 Index of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies rose 1 percent to 1,595.

The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite Index added 1.3 percent to end the day at 4,809.

The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average also rose by 1.3 percent to close at 17,928.

And the broad-based Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, well it, too, rose 1.3 percent to finish at 2,084.

Quote Of The Day: Today’s quote is actually a look. The look of billionaire Microsoft co-founder and Portland Trailblazers owner Paul Allen after Steph Curry pulled out Allen’s soul and destroyed it during the Golden State Warriors 132-125 Game 4 win over the Blazers Monday night. The Warriors, who are now up 3 games to 1, will look to send Portland back home for good following Wednesday night’s game in Oakland.

Sign up for the 60-Second Business Break newsletter at www.siliconvalley.com.

Photo: Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer delivers the keynote address on Feb. 18, 2016 at the Yahoo Mobile Developer Conference in San Francisco. (AP/Eric Risberg)

 

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