Part of Yahoo’s survival strategy beyond merging with AOL may be to sell of what they consider to be non-core assets for cash. We heard from a source that Yahoo may be quietly reaching out to a couple of potential buyers to see if they’d be interested in their Yahoo Answers property. We filed the rumor away under “ridiculous” until today, when we confirmed with a different source at a major Internet company that they were in fact approached, in a very informal way and through an intermediary, about a possible acquisition.
Yahoo Answers, which was launched in late 2005, is a staggeringly huge site. Recent Comscore stats say the service attracts nearly 150 million monthly visitors worldwide and generates 1.3 billion monthly page views. That’s 67% unique visitor growth in the last year. Yahoo as a whole, though, has nearly 100 billion monthly page views, so it isn’t a material percentage of total Yahoo traffic.
Yahoo Answers doesn’t bring in the premium advertising rates that other properties command, so it isn’t crazy that they’d try to sell it if the price was right. But the logistics of a transfer would be a nightmare – You have to have a Yahoo account to log in, for example. And all the URLs are on Yahoo’s domain name. One of the reasons the service gets so much traffic is because questions tend to get very high search engine placement, so redirecting those URLs properly would be of utmost importance.
There are very few buyers out there that would both be interested in getting those low-CPM page views and would have the cash on hand to make the purchase. So like I said, this is ridiculous on its face, except that we have two independent sources claiming its very much not ridiculous.