More than likely speculation, yesterday FORTUNE published a piece on rumors that Yahoo is in the hunt to purchase AOL from under Google’s feet.
* FORTUNE has learned from multiple sources that Yahoo (Charts) recently approached Time Warner (Charts) (parent of FORTUNE’s publisher) about buying America Online – essentially trying to jump-start talks that broke down a year ago.
* A source close to Yahoo disputes that Yahoo approached Time Warner and says that there are no active conversations between the two companies.
* Regardless of which version is correct, a Yahoo-AOL merger would be a face-saver for Semel: Last year Google (Charts) outflanked Yahoo and swooped in to become AOL’s exclusive Internet search provider, picking up a 5% stake in AOL for $1 billion as part of the deal.
Despite the obvious he said / she said FORTUNE piece, the industry speculation of Yahoo’s next move has been running rampant ever since Google swept down and secured a mega-search deal with Fox Interactive (MySpace) followed by their YouTube acquisition. Question is, can Yahoo keep up? And if so, how will they do so?
I do not think that these questions will be fully answered until Yahoo proves that their new Yahoo Search Marketing platform can successfully monetize their search & social media network.
Until then, Yahoo’s focus will more than likely be on expanding their search deals based upon their confidence that ‘Panama’ (the internal nickname for the new Yahoo Search Marketing) is the real deal.