In Yahoo years, May 2015 seems like a long, long time ago. That's when we published my cover story on CEO Marissa Mayer and her effort to jump-start the company's mobile efforts. But even then, investors were advocating for Yahoo to sell itself, as it's now doing by turning over its core business to Verizon.
When I interviewed Mayer for our feature, I asked her about the scuttlebutt, and she said that she was working as hard as she could to make Yahoo a great company, not a great acquisition target:
Others believe that Yahoo, which has been such a rampant buyer of companies itself, might end up being acquired itself. Alibaba is often mentioned as a possible purchaser, or SoftBank. Even investors who consider themselves advocates for Mayer sense an end game in the offing. "It will be a sign of huge success, that she took a business that was struggling and turned it around so that someone pays a healthy multiple," says Jeff Lignelli, founder of hedge fund firm Global Incline Management.
Mayer, of course, doesn't talk like a CEO who's polishing up her company for sale. No CEO talks that way. "It's hard to listen to the viewpoint of anyone who says, 'Wait, the strategy should be not about building a great company for the long term, how to make the strongest Yahoo we can in 2020 or 2025,' " she contends. "My responsibility is to build for our shareholders the strongest, most future-leaning, fastest-growing Yahoo that I can."