After months of rumors and speculation that it’s going to auction off its core web business, Yahoo has finally decided to throw in the towel and do just that, and Verizon looks like the most likely buyer at the moment with a $3 billion bid. The company is also auctioning off a portfolio of about 3,000 patents that it’s accumulated over the past two decades, which should fetch another billion dollars or so for Yahoo. The fact that these patents are being sold separately is why Yahoo’s core web business isn’t being sold for as much as analysts expected.
Yahoo Inc. has kicked off an auction for a portfolio of about 3,000 patents expected to fetch more than $1 billion, according to people familiar with the matter. In recent weeks, the internet company sent letters to a range of potential buyers for the patents, which date back to Yahoo’s initial public offering in 1996 and include its original search technology, one of the people said. Yahoo has set a mid-June deadline for preliminary bids, this person said, and hired Black Stone IP, a boutique investment bank that specializes in patent sales, to run the auction. A Yahoo spokeswoman confirmed the company is exploring the sale of about 3,000 patents and pending applications. “This represents a unique opportunity for companies operating in the internet industry to acquire some of the most pioneering and foundational patents related to web search and advertising,” she said in a statement. Yahoo is launching the patent sale in the midst of a high-profile auction for its core web business. Verizon Communications Inc., seen as the leading contender, bid about $3 billion for the internet properties before the Monday deadline for second-round bids, a person familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.