Today in conjunction with its third quarter earnings release, Yahoo announced that it has come to a new agreement with Alibaba that will force the company to sell less of its shares in the Chinese ecommerce firm when it goes public. The number of shares that Yahoo will be required to sell now totals 208 million.
That figure represents a 20.4 percent decrease on the former 261.5 million share requirement. Yahoo owns 523.6 million ordinary shares of Alibaba. Yahoo’s Alibaba stake is worth tens of billions of dollars, provided that Alibaba goes public in the $100 billion to $120 billion range that is usually discussed.
Yahoo was required to sell half its Alibaba stake when the retail giant goes public. Yahoo claims to be “pleased” to hold onto more of its stake, post-IPO. Joe Tsai, a member of Alibaba’s board, said that “[u]nder its new leadership, Yahoo has made it a priority to build a good relationship with Alibaba.” So, this reduction can be chalked up to Mayer’s influence as CEO. Also, in late 2012, Yahoo exec Jacqueline Reses joined Alibaba’s board.
As a company, Yahoo doesn’t need to sell its Alibaba stake to stay solvent, but as a bank account, the more it taps the resource, the more shiny things it can buy. Yahoo will net plenty, even with the reduction. Early-stage, mobile-first companies in the Bay Area beware, Yahoo is still hungry and well-funded.