Chart: The Rise and Fall of Yahoo
The 20 year roller coaster for Yahoo finally ends
The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.
The saga surrounding one of the world’s most recognizable internet stocks has come to a close.
Yahoo has finally sold its operating business to the highest bidder. The winner was Verizon – and the price was $4.8 billion.
That’s worth less than 1% of the company it had multiple opportunities to buy: Google (now Alphabet).
Technology changes fast, and successful companies must leverage smart acquisitions in building for the future. Facebook bought Oculus Rift and Instagram, and Google bought companies like Youtube, DoubleClick, Boston Dynamics, and DeepMind to help flush out its strategy.
The executives running Yahoo have a rough track record in reading industry tea leaves. It’s not just about the deals they made, but it’s also the deals they failed to make.
In the end, a lack of execution with acquisitions proved to be the company’s Achilles’ Heel.
In 1998, Yahoo was approached by two young Stanford Ph.D. students to buy their search engine algorithm. Larry Page and Sergey Brin had created PageRank – a quick way to find the most relevant website for a given search query. Yahoo skipped out on buying it for $1 million, rationalizing that it would take people off of Yahoo’s website, while decreasing traffic and ad revenues.
Even later on when Google’s search business was well-established, Yahoo CEO Terry Semel balked at Larry and Sergey’s $1 billion asking price. He would eventually agree to it, but by then it was too late. The Google guys had already decided to up their price to a heftier $3 billion.
Around that same time, Yahoo was turned down by a 22-year-old Mark Zuckerberg. Yahoo offered to buy Facebook for $1 billion, but Zuckerberg declined. This was a moment that billionaire Facebook investor Peter Thiel lauds as the major turning point for the company that allowed it to become the behemoth it is today. Some sources even say that if the offer was increased to $1.1 billion, that Facebook’s board would have forced Zuckerberg to take it.
But it’s not just the offers made that were missed opportunities. Yahoo also turned down a hostile takeover from Microsoft in 2008 for $44.6 billion that valued the company for far more than it is worth today.
Deals that Bombed
Finally, the deals that did close were unable to add any value to the company.
Yahoo famously made two acquisitions in 1999 that are now ranked by Forbes as some of the worst internet acquisitions of all-time.
The first was a $4.58 billion deal for Geocities, a site that enabled users to build their own personal websites. While Geocities was a pioneer in this regard, it eventually was shuttered in 2009 after failing to deliver any value to Yahoo shareholders.
The second was the famous $5.7 billion deal for Broadcast.com, an online television site that was founded by Mark Cuban. Perhaps way ahead of its time, internet connections were too slow in 1999 to run this type of video content off the web.
Yahoo also bought Tumblr for $1.1 billion in 2013. While it is not ranked as one of the worst acquisitions of all time, it is not doing particularly well either.
Yahoo’s Saving Grace
There was one M&A decision that wasn’t a whiff. In 2005, the company bought a 40% stake in emerging online retail company Alibaba. The remainder of those holdings, now worth $30 billion, make up the majority of Yahoo’s market capitalization today.
In the context of the recent Verizon deal, the Alibaba shares are likely being spun off into a separate investment vehicle.
The Road to Recovery: Which Economies are Reopening?
We look at mobility rates as well as COVID-19 recovery rates for 41 economies, to see which countries are reopening for business.
The Road to Recovery: Which Economies are Reopening?
COVID-19 has brought the world to a halt—but after months of uncertainty, it seems that the situation is slowly taking a turn for the better.
Today’s chart measures the extent to which 41 major economies are reopening, by plotting two metrics for each country: the mobility rate and the COVID-19 recovery rate:
- Mobility Index
This refers to the change in activity around workplaces, subtracting activity around residences, measured as a percentage deviation from the baseline.
- COVID-19 Recovery Rate
The number of recovered cases in a country is measured as the percentage of total cases.
Data for the first measure comes from Google’s COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports, which relies on aggregated, anonymous location history data from individuals. Note that China does not show up in the graphic as the government bans Google services.
COVID-19 recovery rates rely on values from CoronaTracker, using aggregated information from multiple global and governmental databases such as WHO and CDC.
Reopening Economies, One Step at a Time
In general, the higher the mobility rate, the more economic activity this signifies. In most cases, mobility rate also correlates with a higher rate of recovered people in the population.
Here’s how these countries fare based on the above metrics.
|Country||Mobility Rate||Recovery Rate||Total Cases||Total Recovered|
Mobility data as of May 21, 2020 (Latest available). COVID-19 case data as of May 29, 2020.
In the main scatterplot visualization, we’ve taken things a step further, assigning these countries into four distinct quadrants:
1. High Mobility, High Recovery
High recovery rates are resulting in lifted restrictions for countries in this quadrant, and people are steadily returning to work.
New Zealand has earned praise for its early and effective pandemic response, allowing it to curtail the total number of cases. This has resulted in a 98% recovery rate, the highest of all countries. After almost 50 days of lockdown, the government is recommending a flexible four-day work week to boost the economy back up.
2. High Mobility, Low Recovery
Despite low COVID-19 related recoveries, mobility rates of countries in this quadrant remain higher than average. Some countries have loosened lockdown measures, while others did not have strict measures in place to begin with.
Brazil is an interesting case study to consider here. After deferring lockdown decisions to state and local levels, the country is now averaging the highest number of daily cases out of any country. On May 28th, for example, the country had 24,151 new cases and 1,067 new deaths.
3. Low Mobility, High Recovery
Countries in this quadrant are playing it safe, and holding off on reopening their economies until the population has fully recovered.
Italy, the once-epicenter for the crisis in Europe is understandably wary of cases rising back up to critical levels. As a result, it has opted to keep its activity to a minimum to try and boost the 65% recovery rate, even as it slowly emerges from over 10 weeks of lockdown.
4. Low Mobility, Low Recovery
Last but not least, people in these countries are cautiously remaining indoors as their governments continue to work on crisis response.
With a low 0.05% recovery rate, the United Kingdom has no immediate plans to reopen. A two-week lag time in reporting discharged patients from NHS services may also be contributing to this low number. Although new cases are leveling off, the country has the highest coronavirus-caused death toll across Europe.
The U.S. also sits in this quadrant with over 1.7 million cases and counting. Recently, some states have opted to ease restrictions on social and business activity, which could potentially result in case numbers climbing back up.
Over in Sweden, a controversial herd immunity strategy meant that the country continued business as usual amid the rest of Europe’s heightened regulations. Sweden’s COVID-19 recovery rate sits at only 13.9%, and the country’s -93% mobility rate implies that people have been taking their own precautions.
COVID-19’s Impact on the Future
It’s important to note that a “second wave” of new cases could upend plans to reopen economies. As countries reckon with these competing risks of health and economic activity, there is no clear answer around the right path to take.
COVID-19 is a catalyst for an entirely different future, but interestingly, it’s one that has been in the works for a while.
Without being melodramatic, COVID-19 is like the last nail in the coffin of globalization…The 2008-2009 crisis gave globalization a big hit, as did Brexit, as did the U.S.-China trade war, but COVID is taking it to a new level.
—Carmen Reinhart, incoming Chief Economist for the World Bank
Will there be any chance of returning to “normal” as we know it?
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