Andreessen Headed To Yahoo Boardroom: Rumour

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Marc Andreessen has been seen visiting Yahoo and speculation now tips him as the next chairman

Yahoo is never far away from the news – usually mentioned in the same breath as “Microsoft” and “acquisition” – but AllThingsD has found a new angle. It is possible that Silicon Valley entrepreneur Marc Andreessen could be the next chairman of the company, AllThingsD said.

Andreessen visited the company last week and rumours are beginning to circulate that some deal might be in the wind. The problem is that nobody knows the precise details of what role Andreessen might play.

Speculation and conspiracy theories

The AllThingsD report does seem to be in touch with an internal source at Yahoo, reporting that the Silicon Valley celebrity expressed himself quite forcefully at the meeting – pointing out Yahoo’s past failures but being less forthcoming on how much work would be needed to turn the troubled company around.

Andreessen (pictured) made his name as the co-founder of browser-pioneer Netscape, the company that awakened Microsoft to the potential of the World Wide Web. He sits on several IT giants’ boards, including Hewlett-Packard, eBay, and Facebook. He also plays an active role in a string of other companies, such as Twitter and Digg.

Yahoo is the focus of speculation because last Monday was set as a deadline for companies wishing to take a minority stake in the company. It is believed that at least two consortia have shown interest. Silver Lake in consort with Microsoft is strongly expected to be one and TPG Capital is the other private equity company in the frame. The minority share could be as much as 20 percent.

Although this percentage sounds small, Yahoo’s co-founders Jerry Yang and David Filo only hold around 10 percent stake and that would mean the new investors would effectively have a controlling presence.

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Hellman & Friedman have also been mentioned as interested parties. Yahoo is expected to consider the offers as soon as possible and an announcement could be made within the next week.

Alibaba eyeing greater gains?

There is a dark horse in the shadows in the form of the Alibaba Group of China, an e-commerce company and one of Yahoo’s biggest investors. The group is rumoured to be in discussions with  investment and advisory firm the Blackstone Group about forming a bid to buy Yahoo outright.

Yahoo owns a 40 percent share of Alibaba and the rights associated with this holding gives the Chinese company a significant position in the powerplay. The rumour has been played down but any move that does not appeal to Alibaba could trigger a predatory move.

With such speculative activity surrounding Yahoo, it could be that Andreessen is acting as an advisor and has no plans for deeper involvement. However, the boardroom appointment is always possible, given his recent track record.

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