Thanks to my keen interest in technology and entrepreneurialism, I have observed Yahoo!, a company once valued at $125 billion, gradually fade into obscurity. As its products failed to keep pace, a combination of bad investments, missed opportunities and poor management decisions all contributed to its decline. With quarterly revenue having collapsed to just over $1 billion dollars in the first quarter of 2016 (Yahoo!, 2016), a fall of 40% compared to the same period in 2008 (Yahoo!, 2008), the company accepted a $4.83 billion sale to Verizon (Kwan Yuk, 2016).
One year later however, the sale was cut by $350 million (Moritz, 2016) following Yahoo!’s disclosure that they had been a victim of two unprecedented cyber attacks (Statista, 2017) in 2013 and 2014. The first attack alone saw all three billion user accounts compromised, revealing private details to hackers on a scale never seen before. Yahoo!’s reputation was further damaged when they admitted to having been aware of the 2014 attack three years before they announced it.
Having followed the story closely, I was convinced that the company’s remaining users, who had not been turned away by its failing profitability, would seek alternative services after such devastating hacks and that the Yahoo! brand was too damaged to continue beyond the Verizon takeover.
Since the takeover however, the Yahoo! brand continues to live on, with one billion monthly active users as of 2016 (Kim, 2016), signalling that the household name still has significant value, a fact that has given me a lot to consider. Furthermore, Verizon has launched a parent company, Oath, a self-proclaimed ‘values-led company’ (Oath, 2017), its branding reflects Verizon’s desire of rebuilding trust through placing it at the centre of their marketing message. With negative headlines abound, I remain to be convinced whether Verizon will be able to not just rescue Yahoo!’s ageing products, but its reputation too.