The recent turn of events for Yahoo will, for some, be a little upsetting. After all, Yahoo is the web portal that many grew up through the late nineties and early noughties, but now the firm is up for sale after a failed turnaround plan from ex-Googler, Marissa Mayer. As different firms from all over the world – as well as big US names like AT&T and Verizon – bid over what’s left of the valuable web assets of Yahoo, an interesting clause has been discovered that could help out another player in all of this; Mozilla. The firm behind the Firefox web browser signed a deal with Yahoo to use them as their default search partner, which is where 90% of Yahoo’s revenues come from.
The deal was struck back in 2014 and saw Yahoo paying Mozilla $375 Million each year for the latter to use the former’s search engine as default in all Firefox browsers. Users have always been free to remove Yahoo and use another search engine, with many already configured in Firefox to choose from, but this near-$400 Million figure just goes to show how lucrative that default spot really is. Now here is the interesting part, the deal that Mayer apparently had a leading hand in guarantees Mozilla annual payments up to 2019 no matter what, which means that should a company purchase Yahoo and Mozilla not be with happy with this choice, they can renege on the deal and still get their annual payments, which come close to $1 Billion.
This is an interesting position that Mozilla finds itself in, as the money was perhaps the only reason that Firefox signed such a deal, with Google often being considered a superior option by the vast majority of users. This clause is no doubt going to be a cause for concern for many buyers eyeing up a Yahoo purchase, after all who wants to give $375 Million every year to a firm that might choose to essentially give you nothing in return for it? It’s a strange clause, and one that Mayer thought would never have come into play, and there’s a good chance that it won’t come into play. A new deal could be negotiated with Mozilla to protect the revenues Yahoo gets from search that could take this clause out of the equation altogether. Either way, the bidding around Yahoo just got a little more interesting.