What is likely to be the last Yahoo earnings release ever will drop just after 1 pm PT today.
“Drop” is exactly the way to put it. Wall Street expects the results from the Silicon Valley internet giant to be another weak one, with revenue down 20 percent and earnings down close to 50 percent from a year ago. Investors could see an upside to those dire results, which is the best one can hope for given the core implosion that has devastated Yahoo’s business for far too long.
But who cares about the crappy financials anyway, with the clock finally ticking down on the endless sale that has been taking place? Final bids from Verizon, Quicken Loans and several private equity players are due today, after four months in this leaky process. And, if all goes as expected, with top prices of perhaps $5 billion if someone is feeling flush, Yahoo will no longer be a public company.
Which is why it’s probably not much of a surprise that the rumors started swirling this weekend about how and when CEO Marissa Mayer will leave the company she has led for four years.
Will she cut out as soon as Yahoo announces whichever of the remaining bidders prevails, as in one scenario that has been discussed among insiders at the company? While the idea of Mayer leaving quickly could be unusual, some speculate that she is even now planning her soft landing, which might see the high-profile exec in a more low-key place for a while.
Or, as is more likely, will Mayer stick around and help the victor with the transition — if they want her help at all, that is — making sure that at least some of her many efforts were not for naught? Under such a plan, whoever buys Yahoo might even let Mayer stay on its board, even if she no longer had real influence.
Among the most unusual ideas I have heard over and over is that there will be no sale and Mayer will continue to rush into the breach with her latest turnaround plan. Sources inside the company said she has been actively managing the company of late, despite the approaching endgame.
But the idea that Yahoo will not sell seems outlandish, given how opposed activist shareholder Starboard Value had been to Mayer’s tenure before it got several seats on the board and how badly investors would react to such a development.
What is clear, though, is that Mayer is not calling any of the shots in the final sale, according to numerous sources from both inside and outside the company. Instead, key Yahoo players include board chairman Maynard Webb and director Tom McInerney, as well as the company’s platoon of bankers.
“She’s been helpful with questions, but it’s clear they have recused her,” said one bidder, a sentiment that was echoed by many of them. “The Mayer era at Yahoo is pretty much over.”
And it is one that ends with a whimper and not a bang.
That’s in contrast to when Mayer came in, when it was all huzzahs for the well-regarded tech star from Google. Now not so much, after she has been unable to turn Yahoo around, despite a rigorous, splashy and pricey effort to do so.
Speaking of pricey: Because of that, there is likely to be ever-louder grumbling about the eventual departure payout that is expected to be substantive for Mayer, as well as other top execs, many of whom have had their stock grants accelerated in the case of a sale.
Does the management team in place deserve it? Probably not. Does it matter? Not even slightly, with most possible buyers writing it off as the cost of doing business in this transaction.
“[Mayer] is less expensive than a lot of other things are going to be,” said another bidder, who is more concerned with deals that could be costly such as the one Mayer struck with Mozilla for search share (which is as bad for Yahoo as I previously wrote, because I’ve seen the contract). “But, everyone has eyes wide open here.”
The eyes have it, it seems, as BGC Financial analyst Colin Gillis noted in a report last week: “Yahoo is over in our eyes."
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.