Altaba, explained: Yahoo will still be Yahoo, and Marissa Mayer is still CEO (for now)


Yahoo Inc. will still be Yahoo after (if?) it is sold to Verizon Communications Inc., and Marissa Mayer will be chief executive of the company until that date and possibly beyond.

Those two facts did not change after Yahoo YHOO, +0.10%  disclosed plans Monday afternoon that were misconstrued in some corners of the internet, including by news organizations.

The Yahoo that internet users know for email, fantasy sports and other internet services is in the process of being purchased by Verizon for $4.8 billion, as long as large-scale hacks of Yahoo users’ info don’t scuttle the deal. Verizon VZ, -0.93%  has not officially said if Mayer will continue to lead the company when and if it is a Verizon subsidiary, but Verizon does hope to continue Yahoo’s popular services under the same name — all those eyeballs are a major reason it is buying the flagging property. Mayer, for what it is worth, said she wanted to stay at Yahoo after the Verizon deal was announced.

However, Verizon is only buying the core business of Yahoo, and the company owns a lot more than that. As MarketWatch wrote about in detail after the Verizon bid for Yahoo was announced, Yahoo’s stakes in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. BABA, -0.12% and Yahoo Japan, as well as billions in cash and other assets, are not part of the deal. The $30 billion-plus entity that holds on to all of that, which will exist only if the deal with Verizon goes through, would eventually be called Altaba.

Altaba, though, will do virtually nothing but hold these assets, as what is known as “an investment company.” Because there is little decision-making involved in being basically a ticker symbol, Altaba does not need a full board of directors, so it will slash the size of the current Yahoo board in half. Among those who will no longer be on the board are Mayer, who could still be acting as the head of Yahoo under Verizon leadership, and Yahoo co-founder David Filo.

“His or her intention to resign is not due to any disagreement with the company on any matter relating to the company’s operations, policies or practice,” Yahoo noted in the Securities and Exchange Commission filing that launched a thousand confusing tweets.

So Yahoo will still be Yahoo, Altaba will be a zombie company comprising a bunch of assets and few, if any, tasks, and Mayer may or may not still be running the actual Yahoo. No matter what anyone on Twitter says.