In an 8-K regulatory filing on Monday afternoon, Yahoo Inc. disclosed some of its plans for after its $4.8 billion sale to Verizon goes through. Once the sale closes, current CEO Marissa Mayer, chairman of the board Maynard Webb, Yahoo cofounder David Filo, and three other current board members will resign from the board; and the Yahoo board “intends to cause the Company’s name to be changed to Altaba Inc.”
It was the latter point that set the media on fire. Journalists sent snarky tweets about the name, and news outlets, from the Wall Street Journal to Time to the Boston Globe to USA Today, and many, many others, ran headlines that simply said some version of “Yahoo will change its name to Altaba.” Even the Associated Press went with, “Yahoo to change name.”
Those headlines are misleading. They oversimplify Yahoo’s filing.
The Yahoo that you know is not changing its name.
The company that will change its name to Altaba is the entity that was formerly being called “RemainCo,” the entity that will remain after Verizon closes its acquisition. That entity will contain a 15% stake in Alibaba, a 35% stake in Yahoo Japan, and a small portfolio of patents called Excalibur. It will arguably amount to a holding company for shares of Alibaba, basically an alternative Alibaba, hence “Altaba.”
In fact, Yahoo already divulged, in an SEC proxy filing back in September 2016, that the remaining company after the Verizon sale would get a new name.
Yahoo Core, the assets that Verizon is buying and the Yahoo that the general public knows—email, search, and Yahoo Media (including Yahoo Finance)—will not change its name.
Verizon has indicated repeatedly that it values the Yahoo brand. AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, who is expected to lead a media group within Verizon that combines AOL, Huffington Post, and Yahoo, said in July, “The Yahoo brand is a brand we will continue to invest in.”
In other words, after Yahoo joins Verizon, verticals like Yahoo Finance, Yahoo News, and Yahoo Sports will not start going by the name Altaba; the Yahoo media brand will remain intact. There will be no Altaba Finance.
Altaba, by the way, roughly translates to “father of Ali” in Chinese. The original Yahoo name, meanwhile, is an acronym for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.”