Archive for July 26, 2016

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Verizon Acquires Yahoo

Marissa Mayer:

This sale is not only an important step in our plan to unlock shareholder value for Yahoo, it is also a great opportunity for Yahoo to build further distribution and accelerate our work in mobile, video, native advertising, and social. As one of the largest wireless and cable companies in the world, Verizon opens the door to extensive distribution opportunities. With more than 100 million wireless customers, a shared view of the importance of mobile and video ad tech, a deep content focus through AOL, Verizon brings clear synergies to the table. And with their aggressive aims to grow global audience to 2B users and $20B in revenue within the mobile-media business by 2020, Yahoo’s products and brand will be central to achieving these goals. Joining forces with AOL and Verizon will help us achieve tremendous scale on mobile. Imagine the distribution challenges we will solve, the scale we will achieve, the products we will build, and the advertisers we will reach now with Mavens – it’s incredibly compelling.


The addition of Yahoo to Verizon and AOL will create one of the largest portfolios of owned and partnered global brands with extensive distribution capabilities. Combined, AOL and Yahoo will have more than 25 brands in its portfolio for continued investment and growth. Yahoo’s key assets include market-leading premium content brands in major categories including finance, news and sports, as well as one of the most popular email services globally with approximately 225 million monthly active users. Additional technology assets in the advertising space include Brightroll, a programmatic demand-side platform; Flurry, an independent mobile apps analytics service; and Gemini, a native and search advertising solution.

Justin Fox:

Most of that value -- Yahoo’s current market cap is $36 billion -- is in the form of Alibaba shares, but even the $4.83 billion that the operating business is selling for is, for a media company in these Dark Ages for media companies, not all that bad. The biggest newspaper company, Gannett, has a market capitalization of $1.76 billion; the biggest magazine publisher, Time Inc., $1.68 billion; the biggest owner of local TV stations, Sinclair Broadcast Group, $2.86 billion. The media and entertainment conglomerates that own cable channels, TV and movie studios, theme parks and the like are still worth a lot more than that -- but Yahoo never possessed those kinds of assets.

I am probably being too fatalistic here. Perhaps, with a relentless, visionary leader in charge all along (Jeff Bezos, who founded Amazon a few months after Yang and Filo put together their original Web directory, springs to mind), Yahoo could have found a path to continued relevance. Even simpler, it could have just bought Google: Semel offered $3 billion in the summer of 2002, but refused to raise the price when Google’s founders turned that down. Still, reinvention is something companies usually fail at when their business models stop working. Yahoo at least succeeded in preserving some value in the midst of decline.

Nick Heer:

Back in February of 2008, Microsoft offered $44.6 billion to acquire Yahoo, in an attempt to better compete with Google. At the time, analysts speculated that it would be a difficult merger for antitrust reasons — an idea that seems positively quaint today. In the end, Yahoo rejected the offer[…]

Tom Harrington:

I wonder if Verizon realizes that Yahoo! Is an implicitly unwrapped optional. There might not be anything there when they try to use it.

Maciej Cegłowski:

If you didn’t want Verizon to have your private data, you shouldn’t have joined Flickr in 2004. Think ahead!

Daniel Jalkut:

Flickr would be a boon to any team independently fired up to take on Twitter, Facebook/Instagram, Snapchat, etc., but lacking resources.

Update (2016-07-29): jelenawoehr (via Hacker News):

To truly understand how soul-crushing it was to work at Yahoo in pre-Marissa times, you should have been in Sunnyvale (I was, on a business trip) on the day Marissa announced free food in the company’s cafeterias. People scrambled to stuff themselves as if the announcement would be taken back in a day or two. The coffee shops were stripped of pastries. Yahoos packed multiple boxes at the salad bar and hoarded them in break room refrigerators. You’d think that the announcement Marissa made was a coming price increase for lunches, not free food. Good news at Yahoo was treated as suspect and likely to change at any minute.

Pretty soon, it was obvious that the new CEO was listening — really listening.


And about devel-random, or “d-r”: I was pretty active on that. No one told Marissa about d-r, but just a couple of days after she got there, on a Saturday IIRC, she responded to someone on d-r. This sent shockwaves throughout the upper echelons, and soon senior management were clamoring to get on d-r. Most of them dropped out, exhausted by the volume; but she stuck around.

Also: she used to use pine(1) to read her emails. That increased her stature in my eyes, and those of quite a few other engineers.


The ads will begin appearing on the platform starting today. Tumblr remains one of the most popular blogging platforms, attracting over 550 million monthly users to its blogs. Tumblr creators will have an opportunity to share in the revenue from ads on their blogs. The company says that bloggers will have the ability to opt out of the program should they wish not to participate.

Update (2016-08-01): Jean-Louis Gassée:

Carriers’ fear of commoditization is alive and bad; how else to explain Verizon’s necrophiliac acquisitions of AOL and now Yahoo? For the acquired companies, it makes sense: If AOL had been a viable entity instead of walking its user base to the grave, if Yahoo’s revenues and profits had been on a growth curve, shareholders wouldn’t have clamored for an end to their suffering. For them, an assisted living home was their best choice.

But what about the acquirer? Does Verizon Sincerely Want To Get Richer? Will it try to increase its ARPU by piling up media properties, finding ways to decrease choices for its customers, somehow forcing them into paying for content bundles?

Eleventh Hour Swift 3 Reviews

Erica Sadun:

It’s crunch time. Several reviews are running concurrently for just a couple of days. All breaking changes must wrap up in the next week and Swift 4 design starts on 8/1.


In contrast, SE-0132 is huge. It really deserves more time, attention, and consideration than the Apple-imposed deadline will allow. Brent’s done a lot of work on perfecting this. If time permitted, it would have benefited from a few more weeks of discussion and revision.


Swift 3’s timeline concerns me. It will be ready for GM release along with Xcode 8 and iOS 10. I, personally, would prefer Swift 3 to be delayed six months or more to get it right the first time.

The Novelty of the App

Walt Mossberg (Hacker News):

I attacked my phone’s app landfill to learn how very many apps which once seemed interesting or necessary hadn’t made it into the toolkit of my life. How many had been superseded by better apps or by functions built into the phone or my other devices since their debut. How many were redundant or disappointing. Or, on the other hand, how many were great but did more than I ever needed.


But there are way too many bad, mediocre, or me-too apps. The good ones are too hard to find. And the novelty and joy of suddenly having access to millions of bits of interesting software has worn off for me and for many other people. While Apple now claims 2 million apps in the App Store, as long as two years ago analysts were reporting that most smartphone users didn’t download even a single app in an average month.

Update (2016-07-26): Oluseyi Sonaiya:

Yes, there are application categories that are resistant to this disintermediation, but they are likely far narrower than you may assume, and likely represent a tiny sliver of the average smartphone user’s installed apps.

Swift Type Aliases

Ash Furrow:

After deleting the typealias and replacing it with a class of the same name, we didn’t have to worry about changing function definitions and property types all throughout our codebase. We made the changes locally, in one file, and most all the rest of our code still compiled. Pretty cool! Here’s the relevant portion of the pull request that made that change.


Any time you use the same tuple type more than once, consider making a typealias. In this case, the code became a lot shorter and easier to skim and understand.


Objective-C developers, burdened with arcane syntax for blocks, use C’s typedef to isolate that syntax strangeness in one place. And even though Swift’s closure syntax is awesome, we can still benefit from Objective-C’s example – we can use type aliases for closure signatures.


I recommend using a descriptive typealias that is private to your file, and then extending that typealias so you can keep things neat and tidy. […] We’re still extending the view controller, but specifically we’re extending the typealias so that the extension has a helpful name. This is another way that typealias can help add semantic meaning to your code.

Too bad Swift extensions can’t be named directly, like Objective-C categories.