Yahoo Inc.’s data breaches now have a price tag on them.
Citing sources familiar with the matter, Reuters and Bloomberg are reporting that Verizon Communications Inc. now plans to buy the former Internet giant for up to $350 million (all figures USD) less than the $4.8 billion it originally promised, thanks to the two high-profile data leaks Yahoo suffered last year.
That’s actually a lower number than the 10 per cent price cut some analysts anticipated when Bloomberg investigated the situation in late December.
“It looks like they’re going to get a price cut – but it’s not dramatic,” Gabelli & Co. analyst Brett Harriss told Bloomberg, whose sources estimated a decrease of $250 million USD.
According to Bloomberg and Reuters’ sources, the $250 million – $350 million figure represents a breakthrough for both Verizon, which had been trying to persuade Yahoo to amend the acquisition’s terms since the attacks became public last year, and Yahoo itself, which could see Verizon share liability in any future breach-related lawsuits. However, the sources also cautioned that the agreement hasn’t been finalized and that it could be days or weeks before one is announced.
Both companies either declined or did not respond to Bloomberg and Reuters’ requests for comment.
As for why the two data breaches – the first, in September, resulted in 500 million email addresses being leaked, a record broken by Yahoo itself when it was revealed that one billion accounts had been leaked in December – didn’t cost the apparently beleaguered search icon more than they did, the most likely answer may lie with what analysts told Bloomberg in December: we’re getting used to them.
As Bloomberg reporter Olga Kharif noted, Yahoo joined a long line of high-profile breach victims last year, including Sony Corp., Target Corp., Home Depot Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., EBay Inc., and Toronto-based dating website Ashley Madison.
Nor do stolen names and account information have the impact you might think, Kharif wrote in December, noting that Target and Home Depot lost around $200 million each once insurance was taken into account – a paltry amount for companies of their size.
It’s unlikely that Verizon is interested in Yahoo’s search engine and email services anyway: the company’s true value lies in its apps, mobile ad technology, patent library, and considerable readership, Constellation Research founder and principal analyst R. “Ray” Wang told ITBusiness.ca last year.
“Look, anybody who has a Yahoo Mail account is probably over the age of 40,” Wang said at the time. “But they’re actually a pretty loyal group, and they also have more disposable income.”
As of Feb. 13, marketing analyst Craig Smith estimated that Yahoo’s network of websites had more than 800 million unique visitors across desktop and mobile devices.