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Former Yahoo CEO Regrets Acquiring Tumblr Instead of Hulu or Netflix

In a conversation with Tech Brew, Former Google executive and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer talked future plans and past regrets, which included a moment of reflection when she looked back on the unsavory results of acquiring Tumblr over Netflix or Hulu, two of today’s most prominent streaming services.

When asked about one thing she would’ve done differently during her time at Yahoo, she gave three examples. First, she noted she would’ve hired a different COO (“I would have hired [current Integral Ad Science CEO] Lisa Utzschneider, who became my chief revenue officer. And that would have been great.”) Second, she named the acquisition of Tumblr as a misfire, at least in part because it came at the cost of snagging Netflix or Hulu. As stated by Mayer, at the time, Netflix was worth $4 billion and Hulu was valued at $1.3 billion.

In other words, a far cry from what they would be worth years later, up to and including present day. In the same timeframe, Tumblr has dwindled in value, going from trendy online social hotspot to withered, wilted brand. “Either of those, with hindsight being 20/20, would have been a better acquisition,” she said.

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Mayer clarified the Tumblr acquisition was not, in fact, her biggest regret. That honor went to Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo, which Mayer didn’t feel helped the company as much as was hoped.

“We should have done the tax-free Alibaba spinoff to separate the assets of the company,” Mayer said. “Because one, if we had done that, it would have saved $10 billion for our shareholders or made them that money, whichever way you look at it, in taxes that were paid. And two, it would have allowed Yahoo to continue as an independent company, and it would have potentially had more success.”

Mayer didn’t spend the entire talk looking in the rearview mirror. She also highlighted her startup Sunshine, the creator of an AI-driven app designed to organize networks’ email addresses and phone numbers. Event scheduling and other useful functions will be the focus of future apps, such as the upcoming Sunshine Circles, which will be a resource to help effectively gather information from groups.

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