China’s View and Japan’s Stake in the Yahoo Alibaba Deal
While looking around the Internet for news this morning some rather different headlines caught my attention. The Yahoo $1 Billion buy-in of China’s mega-shopping site Alibaba.com has been covered by just about every news source online. For the most part, the focus has been set on how savvy Yahoo has been to buy a huge share of one of China’s largest shopping sites for the whopping price Yahoo paid. Heck, Yahoo now looks brilliant for instantly purchasing such a massive share of the Chinese market that Google and eBay have been struggling with for years.
After taking a look at the People’s Daily and the headlines are a bit different “Alibaba.com Acquires Yahoo China.” Flip over to the China Daily and you’ll learn that there is an even larger third party in this agreement, Softbank, the current majority interest holder in Alibaba.com is a Japanese Firm (and now owner of the Fukuoka “Softbank” Hawks baseball team). Further reading unveils that Softbank is the largest owner of Yahoo properties outside of the Yahoo company, owning over one third of the Yahoo Europe and Yahoo Korea entities. Hmm.. so, Softbank owns most of Alibaba and now Alibaba owns Yahoo China, which means (and please email me or comment if I’m wrong) Softbank, now owns a rather large share of Yahoo China under the ‘cover’ of Alibaba.com. Yes, there are three sides to this very large deal.
Besides looking into Softbank and its interest in Yahoo, let’s look into the original point of this posting – what Yahoo sacrificed to get a share of Alibaba.com : Yahoo China. Yahoo paid $1 billion and also “sold” Yahoo China to Alibaba.com for 40% of Alibaba.com. So, essentially Alibaba.com did acquire Yahoo China, which is mighty big news. Deng Xiaoping would be proud.
What’s even bigger is something else that Yahoo got out of the agreement: Yahoo’s co-founder Jerry Yang will now sit on the board of directors at Alibaba. Jerry was ecstatic in his interview with BusinessWeek “We are combining our strong No. 2 search and mail businesses with Alibaba’s first-place consumer auction platform, their leading business-to-business franchise, and their AliPay, which is their payment platform. It’s the only company in China that has commerce, search, communications, and a very, very strong local management team. This is going to be a very valuable franchise going forward. ”
So, let’s recap. Yahoo bought 40% of Alibaba for $1 Billion and Yahoo China. Alibaba is owned in part by Japan’s Softbank and now owns Yahoo China. Yahoo’s Jerry Yang is going to be in the boardroom at Alibaba, making decisions which will effect its growth and Yahoo China, which is not owned by Yahoo, but by Alibaba, which is partly owned by Softbank, which owns lots of Yahoo Japan, Yahoo Korea, Yahoo Europe, Yahoo BB (Yahoo Broadband Japan) and Yahoo China (under the Alibaba name).