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Yahoo: sacrificing $170 billion annual revenue for Tumblr’s $100 million. What?

May 27, 2013
Yahoo to acquire Tumblr for $1.1 billion

Yahoo to acquire Tumblr for $1.1 billion

Yahoo’s recent $1.1B bid for Tumblr has polarised opinions for and against, amongst people I’ve spoken to.

On the one hand, the acquisition can be seen as a shrewd move by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer to increase engaged audience amongst younger demographics. Bigger audiences across a wider spread of people can not only mean more advertising dollars to cater for those diverse audiences, but also a more effective management of the risk associated with being perceived as the fuddy-duddy network (I just made that up, but I think it’ll stick).

On the other hand, what’s the real value of having younger audiences on your network? I’m slightly more familiar with the Channel 10 TV network in Australia which has recently publicly stated its intentions to move as far away from the younger demographics as possible and to recast itself as a network catering to older audiences. Why? Advertisers know that while it’s cool to have young people watching or engaging with your content, it’s the older, more established markets that have money to spend on your products and services. They’re less fickle (most of the time), and they know what they want. They’re more established in life, and have higher incomes, less mortgages (or at least can handle them better). To showcase how younger generations respond to such things – the first thing that happened when loyal Tumblr users heard Yahoo might buy the network – was threaten to leave and find somewhere else that wasn’t run by fuddy-duddys.

Is it worth pursuing the younger demographics in the name of audience share?

Is it worth pursuing the younger demographics in the name of audience share? Graph via Comscore Datagems

So there’s certainly a big risk in going after the younger demographics.

Personally, now seeing what Yahoo intends to do with the $7.6 Billion it made from its 2012 sale of AliBaba, I’m wondering how the numbers stack up:

Tumblr, with $26M in revenue with accumulated venture capital debts of $125M. It was forecasting a $100M revenue year for 2013, all via advertising. Although the press release stated Tumblr has 300 million registered users, some educated guesses put it as low as 30 to 50 million people once you use the same measure that Twitter and Facebook do to measure their user numbers.

Alibaba, on the other hand was unwanted by Yahoo despite making $170 billion in revenue last year. It has less users – the company claims 79 million registered users – but in a transactional marketplace, it’s only the revenue and revenue per user that counts. Needless to say, with much of Alibaba’s audience starting in and around China – the prospects for scalable growth remain high, even to the pessimist.

So I’m worried that multi-billion dollar companies are selling off businesses that are making money, to buy ones that might. I’m always an advocate of pursuing new ideas, chasing the growth and changing things for the better, but I’m yet to be convinced that Yahoo is headed the right way. I’m happy to be proved wrong.

Deliriant Isti Romani – These Romans are Crazy!

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From → Business, Technology

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