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Verizon, Quicken Loans And Others Bid On Yahoo's Core Internet Business


Bidders are preparing to submit offers for Yahoo's Internet business. It's the second round of bidding in a process that began earlier this year when Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced she would auction off her company's core Internet business. To talk about who wants Yahoo and why, we've got Kara Swisher on the line.

She's been covering Yahoo for her technology news site Recode, where she is executive editor. Good morning.

KARA SWISHER: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: Well, why don't we talk about people who might be interested - the cast of bidders, which include, I gather, Quicken Loans. Right there...


MONTAGNE: ...Just that one. Tell us, what would an online mortgage company do with Yahoo?

SWISHER: Well, the owner - the founder of Quicken Loans, who'd created this company, is Dan Gilbert. And he also owns the Cleveland Cavaliers. He's a billionaire. He's very interested in audience, as are most people. And there's not many places to buy big audience on the Internet.

He feels that it hasn't been managed properly and that with cutting costs and doing more directed marketing and things like that, he can keep it - make it a pretty good business.

MONTAGNE: Well, a little bit closer to that is Verizon. It's been described as the leading bidder. Again, what would, in this case, a big cable TV, phone and wireless company do with Yahoo?

SWISHER: Well, Verizon's an interesting company because they really need to get in the content business. And Yahoo is a lot of content. And recently, last year, they bought AOL. And to combine the two, they would have a lot of content. They'd have a lot of advertising technology. And they'd have a lot of eyeballs.

MONTAGNE: When you think about Yahoo itself, though, what - after it sells this Internet business - what else is there? What's left?

SWISHER: Well, there's - one thing that they did many years ago, which was really smart, and it's the only reason it's around today, is they bought two assets. One in Japan, which they sold the Yahoo name to a company called SoftBank. The second thing it did, which is probably the most brilliant investment in history, I guess, is they bought a small fledgling Internet company, a piece of it, called Alibaba.

And Alibaba has become one of the biggest and most important companies in China. But, you know, Yahoo's not a Chinese investment company or an Asian investment company. And that's been the problem is that even though they did this great investment, they haven't been making the products that people want to use.

They're not Facebook. They're not Snapchat. You know, they're not Google. They haven't done anything since their original idea of helping people get around the Internet, which was a brilliant idea. And it kind of lost its way.

MONTAGNE: That gets us back to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. When she came on board four years ago, she got so much publicity as a woman...


MONTAGNE: ...CEO in the tech world. If she's now selling Yahoo's core business, do people consider her a failure?

SWISHER: Well, yeah. I think so. I think she didn't really want to sell it. She has another turnaround plan after her first turnaround plan didn't work. And so she is now willingly selling it. But she certainly hasn't been one of the ones that's advocated its being sold. She wants to keep working at it.

You know, it's a good try, just like all the other CEOs of Yahoo, of which there's been, I don't know, five or six at this point - varying degrees of success but mostly a downward spiral for a company that, you know, as in tech, you cannot miss turns. And Yahoo missed so many turns. And when that happens, it becomes very fatal for you.

MONTAGNE: Kara Swisher is executive editor of the technology news site Recode. Thanks very much for joining us.

SWISHER: Thanks a lot. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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