If you're reading this site, it's likely you have an idea of what Twitter does. Yahoo is a little harder to figure out (even, it appears, to those inside the organization). So why do you think a former Yahoo CEO is saying that the microblogging company should buy the big purple search engine/media company/ad network/etc?
Yahoo's been the island of misfit toys for years now, a state of affairs that inspired hedge fund manager Eric Jackson to argue on the pages of Forbes that Google, Facebook, Apple, or Microsoft should buy Yahoo and save it from itself and/or Marissa Mayer, whose leadership of the company was recently eviscerated in a lengthy New York Times piece.
But before there was Mayer, there was Ross Levinsohn. He worked at a lot of the usual Silicon Valley internet/media suspects (like Alta Vista, remember them?), and was eventually named Yahoo's interim CEO in May 2012. Then, to quote his Wikipedia page, "During his brief tenure, he helped stabilize the Sunnyvale based company and was touted as the likely choice to remain permanent CEO. In July, the Board ended up choosing Google's Marissa Mayer to lead the company and Levinsohn, after being passed over, decided to leave the company in August."
(So there's likely some baggage there.)
Cut to December, 2014, when analyst Bob Peck suggested that Twitter CEO Dick Costolo would fly the coop (heh) this year, and floated Levinsohn as a possible replacement. It was that possibility that sent CNBC to speak with Levinsohn yesterday, for a brief interview that you can watch below.
In remarks characterized by Forbes as "a play for Marissa's job," Levinsohn made an assertion that might leave some supporters of his Twitter leadership scratching their heads, saying:
Honestly, I think Twitter should go buy Yahoo. If you separate Yahoo into the two businesses that it really is, a tracking company and an operating company, if you put Twitter and Yahoo together it would be the most powerful force in the media business.
Though neither Twitter nor Yahoo would comment on the issue to the Chron, analysts (as always), were happy to opine, wondering "whether the deal would be economically feasible and if it would make sense to combine two companies with vastly different corporate cultures."
“While it’s an intriguing idea, it’s one I have a hard time believing either company could pull off,” said Tim Bajarin, president of advisory services firm Creative Strategies told the Chron.
Silicon Valley based management consultant Steve Tobak was less diplomatic in his assessment of the plan, writing for Fox Business that "I don’t know what Levinsohn was smoking when he called a merged Twitter-Yahoo 'the most powerful force in the media business” -- but I definitely want some."
"This would just be another classic example of merging two struggling companies to create a bigger struggling company," he wrote. "Sears-Kmart. [Ed note: BURN] Sprint-Nextel. Alcatel-Lucent. How many times have we seen that movie, folks? It always ends the same. Badly."