Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) may huff and puff, but it's not going to blow The Huffington Post down.
"We are not in negotiations with Yahoo! for the sale of Huffpost, but we are exploring various content partnerships," editor-in-chief and co-founder Arianna Huffington told The Telegraph yesterday.
Rumors of a Yahoo! buyout had been percolating in recent weeks, and rightfully so. Yahoo! proved that it was on a content-shopping spree when it acquired Associated Content last month. Huffington's site would have been the cherry on top.
Associated Content relies on its army of 380,000 freelance contributors to deliver 50,000 unique pieces of content a month through its growing distribution channels. Huffington can't match the quantity, but it would be a clear boost in quality and panache for Yahoo!.
Huffington's politically charged commentary reaches 26 million unique visitors a month, according to comScore.
Yahoo!'s content acquisition strategy is a bit of a reversal from where it was a year ago when it shuttered GeoCities. One can always argue that the collection of hobbyist (and often gaudy) personal Web pages weren't much to look at, but at least it was free community-driven content creation.
There's naturally a big difference between a teenager with a Hanson tribute page on GeoCities and Huffington Post's credentialed journalists. If Yahoo! is seeking out magnetic niche sites that draw audiences that are lucrative to potential advertisers, there are plenty of other likely targets that happen to be publicly traded.
Let's go over a few:
- The Knot (Nasdaq: KNOT ) is a leading site for brides-to-be planning their weddings. Talk about a juicy target audience of young consumers looking to spend a ton of dough.
- Ancestry.com (Nasdaq: ACOM ) is a subscription-based service for folks interested in climbing their family trees. Yahoo! seems to be retreating from its subscriber offerings, but this would still give it plenty of page views to slap ads on.
- TheStreet.com (Nasdaq: TSCM ) is the financial website most commonly associated with Jim Cramer. Hey, I see Cramer on The Colbert Report all the time.
- Move (Nasdaq: MOVE ) operates several residential real estate and rental listings websites. Its flagship site is Realtor.com, a popular site for scouring through broker-listed properties.
- WebMD (Nasdaq: WBMD ) may be out of Yahoo!'s spending budget, clocking in with a market cap of roughly $2.5 billion. However, it reaches a wide audience of visitors seeking health care information.
We may as well leave The Huffington Post on that list. Sure, I read what Ms. Huffington said. However, just because a company isn't for sale doesn't mean that there isn't a price that will make it reconsider.
What should Yahoo! buy next? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.