Verizon’s EVP for Product and New Business Innovation Marni Walden tried stay upbeat on Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo at the Wall Street Journal’s WSJ.D Live conference in Laguna Beach, Calif. Wednesday, saying that the deal still makes sense for her company. “It absolutely does,” she said.
However, she also acknowledged that disclosures of Yahoo’s massive email hack have brought up new issues for Verizon. “We need to have more information before we can determine” the impact of that hack on the deal, she said. “Yahoo is conducting their investigation. There is a lot of information that Verizon still needs.”
Walden tellingly didn’t answer a question on whether Verizon may back out of the deal as a result, but said that the company wants to finish this evaluation process within the next 60 days.
Two weeks ago, Verizon’s top lawyer went on the record saying that the hack is a material event, which could possibly spike the entire acquisition. Earlier this month, the New York Post reported that Verizon was looking for a $1 billion price cut as a result of the hack.
Walden said that the case for the Yahoo acquisition is very similar to the acquisition of AOL: Verizon simply didn’t have a way to monetize online advertising. “We had the oil in the ground, we didn’t have the rigs to pull it out,” she said. Yahoo would be accelerating the move to monetize online eyeballs with its massive audience of a billion monthly users.
As part of that monetization strategy, Verizon is also increasingly looking to produce its own original content for platforms like Go90. However, Walden said that the focus of these efforts is going to be on short-form content. “Right now, we are not going out to make ‘Game of Thrones’,” she said. “We are not going to make a big content deal.”
That obviously sets Verizon apart from its competitor AT&T, which announced this past weekend that it wants to acquire Time Warner. “They are going after a market that exists today,” said Walden, arguing that Verizon was instead looking to open up new markets for younger consumers.