In its glory days, Yahoo had a garish mock hotel sign in San Francisco that billed the service as “a nice place to stay on the internet.” It may be again — but only after a fashion.
As Vindu Goel reports, an increased number of people were drawn to Yahoo in September. The reason may have been Yahoo’s disclosure that month that hackers stole data on 500 million users in 2014.
Yahoo’s chief executive, Marissa Mayer, did not give a reason for Yahoo’s traffic bump, which she described during a discussion of the company’s third-quarter earnings. It may have been a greater awareness, as customers remembered that they had accounts there, or it may have been people checking on their accounts and changing their passwords.
Neither of those scenarios suggests long-term loyalty or the kind of delight that draws new advertisers.
It may also have been a riposte to Verizon Communications, which had agreed to acquire Yahoo for $4.8 billion but last week said the data breach may have devalued Yahoo enough to justify renegotiating the price. Ms. Mayer was indicating business was normal, if not better.
So far, it’s arguably worse. Yahoo’s third-quarter revenue, after adjusting for accounting charges, was down 15 percent from a year ago. Profits were better than expected, largely because Ms. Mayer spent less capital and laid off about 300 people.
Yahoo’s traffic has been declining for a long time, overtaken by more adept, varied and apparently secure places to stay on the internet. Perhaps Verizon can renegotiate if it simply drags out the deal and traffic slows.
Of course, then it has less of an asset to stitch into a content business that already includes AOL.