San Francisco: Internet pioneer Yahoo! is open to selling its Web search business or entering into a partnership with another company, but doing a deal would be hard, a top executive said on Wednesday.
“We are not opposed to doing a deal that would maximize the value of the business in one way or another, be it a partnership or be it a long term sale,” Yahoo! chief financial officer Blake Jorgensen said.
“We’re very focused though on building our business and doing that in a way which we can benefit all from the search side,” he added during a Goldman Sachs technology conference here.
Microsoft has expressed interest in Yahoo!’s search business and made a bid for the Sunnyvale, California-based firm last year but Jorgensen did not mention the US sofware giant as a potential partner.
He stressed the difficulties of doing a deal.
“What people don’t quite appreciate is the complexity of the business, and how these businesses are intertwined,” he said. “For example at a data center, we don’t parse between search or non-search.
“It’s extremely difficult to draw a line down the middle of the organisation and split it in two pieces,” Jorgensen said. “It doesn’t say we couldn’t do it, we certainly could, but we want to do it for the right reasons and the right economics.”
Yahoo! rejected a takeover bid by Microsoft last year but Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has said the software giant remains interested in a search partnership with Yahoo!
Speculation of such a deal has been revived with the departure of Yahoo! chief executive Jerry Yang, who opposed the Microsoft bid, and his replacement by new CEO Carol Bartz.
Hilary Schneider, another Yahoo! executive, said that with Bartz’ arrival “it’s really clear there’s a new sheriff in town, and it’s a sheriff with a consumer outlook.”
Google is the overwhelming market leader for Internet search with a market share of more than 63% in January according to research firm comScore, followed by Yahoo! with 21% and Microsoft with 8.5%.