Monday is the deadline to submit preliminary bids to buy Yahoo, and interest hasn't been as strong as expected, sources say. Insiders tell the Wall Street Journal that Google parent company Alphabet, AT&T, Time, and Comcast are among those who have decided against putting in bids for the 22-year-old Internet pioneer, with Time deciding that turning Yahoo around will be too tough. Only a handful of the 40 companies thought to have been interested in a Yahoo buy remain, the sources say, with Verizon—which bought AOL last year for $4.4 billion—believed to be the clear front-runner. Private equity firms, including Bain Capital, are also thought to be interested.
"Verizon is trying to pivot its business from analog to digital," MoffettNathanson research analyst Craig Moffett tells the Journal. "Verizon believes that a combined AOL/Yahoo would provide the digital advertising platform they need to execute their video reinvention strategy." The sale is not expected to include some of Yahoo's most valuable properties, including its stake in Chinese online marketplace Alibaba, NPR reports in a look at the sale and the troubled recent past of Yahoo, which still has the third most-trafficked site on the Internet and is America's No. 3 search engine—though there are big drop-offs after No. 1 and No. 2. The sale comes after pressure from activist investor Starboard Value, which also wanted to replace Yahoo's entire board.