Yahoo says Mavens isn't going anywhere, will lay off 15 percent of workforce

Yahoo plans to keep a tight focus on Mavens, its mobile, video, native and social media initiative, with CEO Marissa Mayer calling it a key monetization strategy. However, the company plans to realign-- including a layoff of 15 percent of its workforce-- in the wake of a late-2015 scuffle with investors who wanted it to cancel a planned sell-off of its Asia-Pacific assets.

The staff cuts aren't unexpected, considering that Yahoo is shuttering products like Yahoo Screen, which did not meet "aggressive growth goals." Mayer said that the workforce reduction will save the company nearly $400 million. Yahoo is also closing five international offices in the first quarter: Dubai, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Madrid, and Milan.

Yahoo is also taking a hard look at its online magazines, Mayer said, and is considering whether some can be consolidated to better fit within its four topic verticals of News, Sports, Finance and Lifestyles. It's still launching streaming series within those verticals such as The Final Round, a live weekday show on its Finance page.

"Simplifying Yahoo will save as much as $1 billion this year," Mayer said.

Mayer said that user engagement will be a key focus for Yahoo in 2016, "growing how much each user uses Yahoo." The company hopes to add daily active users as well as account logins, and sees primarily mobile-based search, Yahoo Mail, and Tumblr as key drivers of "sustainable" growth in the long term.

Mayer talked up Mavens on the earnings call, saying that Yahoo expects the initiative to surpass $1.8 billion in revenue in 2016. Mavens grew to $1.6 billion in 2015, according to Chief Financial Officer Ken Goldman, and made up 33 percent of traffic-driven revenue in the fourth quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Yahoo's video properties brought in $375 million in advertising revenue, up 64 percent year over year. However, the company posted an overall loss of $4.4 billion for the quarter, compared to earnings of $166 million a year previously.

Yahoo saw GAAP revenues of $1.27 billion, with non-GAAP earnings per share of 13 cents, down 57 percent from the same period last year.

For the full year, EPS was 59 cents, down 62 percent from 2014.

Yahoo's stock, which surged just before the earnings report to $29.06, trended downward in morning trading by around 2.72 percent. However, analysts appeared optimistic about Yahoo's pledge to continue its reverse spin, with Jefferies rating its stock a "Buy" with a price target of $40.

For more:
- see the earnings release
- and this announcement
- see this WSJ article

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