Yahoo as we know it may be coming to an end.
Years of mismanagement and strategic drift have taken their toll, and the buzzards are circling. Odds now seem good that sometime within the next few weeks or months, Yahoo will have a new CEO, a new owner or one or more new private investors--with big changes likely to follow whatever happens.
But this target is moving rapidly, so it's understandable if you're having trouble keeping up with the latest news. As Yahoo enters open season, here's a guide to help those of you playing at home handicap the odds and otherwise keep score.
Editors note: This item was originally published on November 30, 2011, and is updated regularly.
December 29: Reuters reports that Alibaba has hired the lobbying services of Washington D.C.-based Duberstein Group, headed by President Reagan's former chief of staff Kenneth Duberstein. The move could help Alibaba weather any political blowback should it buy Yahoo, making it a Chinese-owned Internet company.
November 30: Bloomberg reports that Alibaba is preparing to make a bid for all of Yahoo.December 9: Marc Andreessen posts a note on his blog that neither he nor Andreessen Horowitz partner Jeff Jordan, nor any other partner at the venture capital firm, "are in the running for, or would accept, any operating role at Yahoo, including CEO, acting CEO, chairman, or executive chairman."
At this point, pretty much everyone agrees that Yahoo is a mess. While the company's various services--everything from Yahoo Mail to Flickr to Yahoo Finance--still draw huge audiences, rivals have innovated faster and better in burgeoning areas of the Web, diminishing the relevance that once made Yahoo such a draw. Google, for instance, gave everyone a faster way to find interesting stuff on the Internet. Then came Facebook, which has proven a more engaging social "portal" than Yahoo ever was.
Yahoo's external problems have been matched by internal turmoil. The company's famously dysfunctional board spurned Microsoft's $46 billion buyout offer in 2008, then presided over a dramatic decline in Yahoo's value.
Eventually the board fired Chief Executive Carol Bartz in September, not quite three years into her tenure at the company. Her departure, and growing pressure from shareholders, have forced Yahoo's board to consider new leadership as well as new ownership.
- Silver Lake: The Silicon Valley private-equity firm has reportedly bid $16.60 a share for a minority stake Yahoo, along with partners Microsoft, Andreessen Horowitz, and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. According to Bloomberg, the group offered to buy convertible preferred securities equal to a 10 percent to 15 percent stake for as much as $3 billion.
- TPG Capital: The private investment firm is said to have bid more for a minority piece of Yahoo than the Silver Lake group. According to AllThingsD, the bid is $1 a share higher. TPG owns pieces of J. Crew Group and Primedia.
- Others: Several names have been floated as potential bidders for minority stakes including Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, THL Partners, Hellman & Friedman, and the Blackstone Group.
- Alibaba Group: Yahoo's Chinese Internet partner, in which Yahoo still owns a 40 percent stake, is talking with private equity firms about putting together an offer for the entire company. AllThingsD has reported that Alibaba is teaming with SoftBank and Blackstone.
- Tim Morse: Yahoo's acting chief executive, who took the helm when Yahoo's board fired Carol Bartz in September, will likely be replaced. Yahoo has reportedly engaged executive search firms to line up potential candidates.
- Marc Andreessen: AllThingsD has reported that the browser pioneer and partner at Andreessen Horowitz is considering becoming executive chairman at Yahoo if the company accepts the Silver Lake bid.
- Jeff Jordan: The former chief executive of OpenTable, and current Andreessen Horowitz partner, might be a candidate for chief executive, if Yahoo accepts the Silver Lake bid, according to Business Insider. That said, Jordan just stepped away from operational responsibilities and joined Andreessen Horowitz in June.
CNET assistant managing editor David Hamilton contributed to this piece.