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What Is a Case Study?

When you’re performing research as part of your job or for a school assignment, you’ll probably come across case studies that help you to learn more about the topic at hand. But what is a case study and why are they helpful? Read on to learn all about case studies.

Deep Dive into a Topic

At face value, a case study is a deep dive into a topic. Case studies can be found in many fields, particularly across the social sciences and medicine. When you conduct a case study, you create a body of research based on an inquiry and related data from analysis of a group, individual or controlled research environment.

As a researcher, you can benefit from the analysis of case studies similar to inquiries you’re currently studying. Researchers often rely on case studies to answer questions that basic information and standard diagnostics cannot address.

Study a Pattern

One of the main objectives of a case study is to find a pattern that answers whatever the initial inquiry seeks to find. This might be a question about why college students are prone to certain eating habits or what mental health problems afflict house fire survivors. The researcher then collects data, either through observation or data research, and starts connecting the dots to find underlying behaviors or impacts of the sample group’s behavior.

Gather Evidence

During the study period, the researcher gathers evidence to back the observed patterns and future claims that’ll be derived from the data. Since case studies are usually presented in the professional environment, it’s not enough to simply have a theory and observational notes to back up a claim. Instead, the researcher must provide evidence to support the body of study and the resulting conclusions.

Present Findings

As the study progresses, the researcher develops a solid case to present to peers or a governing body. Case study presentation is important because it legitimizes the body of research and opens the findings to a broader analysis that may end up drawing a conclusion that’s more true to the data than what one or two researchers might establish. The presentation might be formal or casual, depending on the case study itself.

Draw Conclusions

Once the body of research is established, it’s time to draw conclusions from the case study. As with all social sciences studies, conclusions from one researcher shouldn’t necessarily be taken as gospel, but they’re helpful for advancing the body of knowledge in a given field. For that purpose, they’re an invaluable way of gathering new material and presenting ideas that others in the field can learn from and expand upon.


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Yahoo! case: the fall

Drew's editorial team

Written by Drew's editorial team Published at Aug 1, 2022 5:32:00 PM

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In the early days of Internet search engines and email pages, Yahoo! was one of the giants. From the beginning, it was outlined to achieve a great future, but due to bad decisions made throughout its history, the company, today, does not have much weight on the Internet and has been sold for much fewer dollars than in a time had been offered.

In this case study, we are going to talk about the history of Yahoo! and what were the key decisions that led this company to its decline instead of leading it to the success that it seemed it was going to have.

<<< Case study Blockbuster: Why is it necessary to innovate? >>>

What is the history of Yahoo!?

The company was born in 1994 , like most companies in the United States, in a small office or shed of some university, from the idea of university classmates. In this case, it was in a small office at Stanford University that Jerry Yang and David Filo created a directory of Internet pages to facilitate the search for information and websites. We must bear in mind that we are talking about the first half of the 90s when the Internet was not yet so installed in our lives and a few years ago web pages began to emerge.

In 1995, the domain was created , having exceeded 100,000 daily visits in 1994 . In this way, its founders managed to get a venture capital company to invest a million dollars in them and from there venture into novelties that were not yet so exploited in the virtual world. In 1996 Yahoo went public.

From that moment, the company began to grow abysmally . Incorporated Yahoo! mail, games, pagers, and yahoo messenger, among other actions that led it to position itself as one of the companies of the moment. For a long period, Yahoo! was growing, increasing its numbers and employees. It was part of the boom of internet pages that occurred between 1997 and 2001.

<<< Netflix case: disruptive business model >>>

When did their mistakes start?

In 1998 Google emerged , the company that years later would be one of the main nightmares of Yahoo!. In its beginnings, today's giant Google asked for financing from Yahoo! and it refused to give it. We could say that this was one of the first mistakes.

During the first years of development, both companies coexisted, but as Google gained ground, Yahoo! went from being a provider of services on the web to being an advertising portal that was increasingly relegated to what the competition allowed it to access.

In 2007 , one of the most serious mistakes of the company Yahoo! is committed. The owners of Google do not rule out selling their company, and Yahoo! offered 3,000 million dollars, but unfortunately, they could not acquire it because the amount that Page and Brin asked for was 5,000 million. Yahoo! did not make any other offer and lost one of the great opportunities that it would have had to gain much more ground in virtuality.

Another of the mistakes that condemned this company was the missed opportunity to buy Doubleclick , an online advertising company, which was later bought by Google and through which it was able to take a big step in terms of online advertising. What also unseated Yahoo! in this area of development.

Later, Yahoo! also had the opportunity to buy Facebook. In 2006 , the social media company did not have the weight it has today, but its imminent growth could be seen coming. Zuckerberg was asking for something like $1 billion, but Yahoo! decided to offer 850 million and did not agree to buy it.

Microsoft , another technology giant, in 2008, offered the owners of Yahoo! to buy the company for more than 44,000 million dollars, much more money than it was worth at the time. But, again, Yahoo! made the wrong decision and turned down the offer. Even more incredible is that years later, Microsoft asked them for permission to use their search engine (Bing), and Yahoo! allowed it. Let's say it gave them something for free that, years before, they had offered billions of dollars for.

<<< Spotify case: The importance of user experience >>>

Other problems faced by the company

Cybersecurity today is one of the main issues that every technology company must guarantee, but in the case of Yahoo!, this has failed . Numerous times the company has acknowledged having suffered cyberattacks that generated data loss and leaks that involved user accounts. This took away the credibility of its security and, of course, caused many users to migrate to other offers. It has even admitted to creating software at the request of the US intelligence service, to obtain information from users' emails.

In addition to security problems, the company has suffered from organizational problems . In its years of history, it has had 7 different executive directors and almost none of them deviates from having made a significant mistake for the company. One of them even admitted having lied about the information on his CV.

In 2012 Marisa Mayer joined, who had previously worked at Google and came to Yahoo! hoping to revitalize the company but she didn't make it. It was she who in 2016 announced the sale of it to Verizon , for an amount of just over 4,000 million dollars , something that a few years before could have been much more.

<<< Zappos case: the best customer service >>>

As we see, the company Yahoo! has been successful in its first years , due to not having too much competition in the market, but as soon as a company of the same weight arrived, it was completely overshadowed by it and did not have enough maturity to make strategic decisions correctly, which led to its decline. The role of executive directors is very important when making decisions and also organizing the company itself, but this is something that could not be achieved. Their high turnover is a point that did not contribute at all to their growth.

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Case Study: Yahoo!

Center for Innovation & Sustainability in Local Media

UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media


In 2019, Yahoo isn’t even Yahoo anymore.

As part of its 2017 merger with Verizon, the company’s brand was folded into a new media conglomerate called Oath. The deal married Yahoo’s content platforms with some remaining AOL brands that survived their own 2016 sale to Verizon.

In January 2019, Oath is no more. Verizon wrote down its online advertising business by $4.6 billion. This is in addition to the 10,400 employees who were extended buyouts in 2018.

How is Verizon’s consolidation of Yahoo’s business units a sign on transformation of the competitive landscape? What lessons can Verizon apply from Yahoo’s own mistakes, especially as the digital landscape grows more competitive?

case study on yahoo

1994: David Filo and Jerry Yang launch “Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web” from Stanford. The site is a hand-built directory of other websites, organized in a hierarchy rather than a searchable index of pages. Filo and Yang rename site to “Yahoo!” – an acronym for Yet Another Hierarchically Organized Oracle – to describe how the site is organized according to subcategories (art, business, computers, economy, etc). In March Yahoo! Is incorporated.

1995: Michael Moritz of Sequoia Capital provides Yahoo! with two rounds of venture capital, equaling $3 million. Timothy Koogle comes on as CEO.

1996:  Yahoo!, valued at $848 million,   goes public, raising $33.8 million by selling 2.6 million shares at an opening bid of $13 each. Yahoo! uses web crawlers and tips from users to find new websites and then human classifiers to sort them into the appropriate category. At Stanford, Larry Page at Sergey Brin develop an algorithm, laying the foundation for a search engine that would become Google.

1997: Yahoo! Mail launches after an acquisition of Four11 (Webmail). Unlike AOL mail, Yahoo Mail does not require a subscription. Yahoo!’s US audience surpasses 25 million users, compared to AOL’s 5 million.

1999: Yahoo! added to S&P 500 Index.

2000:  Yahoo hits its   highest valuation at $125 billion. AOL is the nation’s biggest internet provider and is valued at $125 billion, Ebay is valued at approximately $18 billion, and Amazon at $8 billion. Google begins selling advertisements associated with keywords. AOL merges with Time Warner to form AOL Time Warner.

2001: Terry Semel is appointed chairman and CEO of Yahoo! Yahoo! acquires HotJobs and LAUNCH Media.

2002:   Terry Semel puts in a $3 billion bid to acquire Google but it is rejected .   Yahoo! acquires Inktomi, a leading Web search provider. Yahoo! hires new COO, Daniel Rosenweig.

2003: Yahoo acquires Overture, a leader in commercial search services and unveils a new search feature, which is aimed at improving the user’s search experience.

2004 :Google goes public at $85 a share. Yahoo! acquires Kelkoo, Europe’s leading online comparison shopping service, and announces a joint venture with SINA in China.

2005:  Yahoo invests $1 billion in Chinese e-commerce player Alibaba ,  a 40 percent stake. Yahoo! launches new services – podcasts, messenger, music unlimited. Yahoo! acquires Flickr.

2006: Yahoo! announces a reorganization to align its operations with key customer segments and capture future growth opportunities. AOL begins to offer email, other web services for free rather than behind an AOL membership.

2006-7 : Microsoft and Yahoo discuss merger off and on for 2 years, but never merge. Yahoo! Co-founder Jerry Yang comes back as Chief Executive Officer and hires Blake Jorgensen as CFO. Yahoo! attempts to buy Facebook for $1billion but fails.

2008:  Yahoo turns down a $44.6 billion acquisition deal from Microsoft. Jerry Yang steps down as CEO.

2009: Carol Bartz joins Yahoo! as CEO but Yahoo! fails to catch up to Google and Facebook in the display ad market and lags behind in mobile, social and cloud markets. Bartz is fired after two years.

2011:  Yahoo pushes into web video, launching Yahoo Screen—a hub of original content   including NBC’s Community. Yahoo Screen is shut down in January 2016.

2012:  Scott Thompson comes on as CEO, lasting only four months until it surfaces that he fabricated his degree in computer science. Marissa Mayer is hired as CEO in July 2012.

2013:  Mayer acquires Tumblr for $1.1 billion, aiming to reach a millennial audience.

2014: Yahoo! sells Alibaba for $9.4 billion.

2014 : Mayer launches 11 digital magazines across food, tech, sports and lifestyle. In February 2016, seven of the verticals—health, parenting, food, makers, travel, automotive and real estate—are shut down.

2014:  Yahoo acquires mobile app analytics company Flurry and programmatic video player BrightRoll to build up its ad-tech stack.

2015:  The company signs a deal with Google to place some ads   and search features on Yahoo search listings. It also partners with the NFL on the league’s first online-only livestream.

2016:  Tumblr partners with video apps YouNow, Kanvas and YouTube   to power livestreaming on the site. Unlike similar efforts from Facebook, Twitter and Google, Tumblr plugs into existing video apps, so it doesn’t not need to build a platform to power the technology.

2017: Verizon offers to acquire Yahoo! As of January 2017, Just over 3 percent of worldwide internet users use Yahoo! to search the web, while more than 89 percent use Google.

case study on yahoo


In June, Verizon closed the deal with Yahoo shareholders, acquiring the company for $4.5 billion. Yahoo properties were folded into a new unit called Oath, which included AOL brands like HuffPost, TechCrunch and Engadget. At the point the deal was closed, Oath’s reach included 1.3 billion monthly users and 1 trillion monthly ad requests.

In December, Verizon continued its quest to become the “first screen for live sports,” with a $2 billion NFL rights deal. The investment granted Verizon the ability to stream games on its Yahoo, Yahoo Sports and go90 properties. The deal was expected to raise annual NFL costs from $250 million to $450 million, but for a key business purpose — giving in-game advertisers access to a non-traditional online audience.

Verizon announced the acquisition of Niddel, a startup that uses machine learning technology to identify Internet security issues.

Verizon also announced a similar online expansion with NBA. Rights to “League Pass” games were granted to all of its Yahoo Sports platforms, in addition to the go90 video streaming player. The deal also included original programming options and fantasy basketball features. NBA viewership for the 2017-18 season was up 21 percent at the time the deal was closed, which meant potential for big ad dollars.

Verizon’s 2017 Q4 earnings missed expectations, but sales were up a notch from the previous year. After the passage of tax reform, the company also announced bonuses of 50 restricted stock shares to full-time, non-executive employees.

In April, Verizon announced consolidated revenue rose 6.6 percent year-to-year, as a result of growth in Oath. Revenue from Oath is expected to keep growing as NBA and NFL programming moves to Yahoo, AOL and go90 platforms. Verizon also drew headlines in April for taking steps to strip Yahoo! users of their class-action rights.

In January, Verizon dropped the name Oath from its Yahoo property unit. Shortly thereafter, Verizon Communications Inc. announced that 7% of its media staff would be laid off in an effort to overhaul struggling AOL and Yahoo through consolidation.

For more information on how Yahoo! was affected by rapid change in the digital age, refer to pgs. 85-86 in The Strategic Digital Media Entrepreneur .

Sources for Yahoo timeline:

Tim Armstrong Unveils Oath: AOL-Yahoo Combo Is as Big as Netflix and Looking to Expand

Verizon Seals $4.5 Billion Yahoo Purchase as Mayer Heads Out

CMO Today: Comcast Drops Out of Fox Talks; Verizon’s NFL Deal; Delivery Services Rethink Marketing

CMO Today: Verizon Expands NBA Deal; Redstone Pushes for Viacom-CBS Merger; MDC Digital Ad Transparency

Verizon acquires autonomous threat detection startup Niddel

Verizon earnings: 86 cents a share, vs. 88 cents EPS expected

Verizon and Disney announce bonuses for employees

Bet on Oath content services built around Yahoo acquisition is paying off for Verizon

Verizon layoffs media staff as it revamps troubled business

Supplemental Content Ideas:

Yahoo Finance has a plan to become the Uber of saving money (Jan. 2018, Quartz)

Former state Senator Jeremy Ring talks about the first days of Yahoo

Yahoo Case study Solution Analysis

Yahoo case study.

News; there were a lot of reasons to visit the Yahoo website. However, currently, Yahoo is a shadow of its former self (Nordquist, 2017).

First, came the search engine Google, which became the preferred search engine for many. This is because the business model used by Google offered a lot of information to users of the search engine, as it used information created by others while Yahoo in a lot of ways created their own information. It is totally wrong for a business to blame a competitor for its problems, since Yahoo’s failure came from within the company.

Yahoo’s Problems

Flat-line growth – The company stopped growing, most of the users moved to other options, such as the Google search engine. By the time Yahoo was realizing its slow growth, it may have been a little too late to catch up. At one point in 2008, Microsoft tried to acquire Yahoo for $44.6 billion; a deal that Yahoo’s leadership declined hoping to find other buyers till Microsoft withdrew their offer. Now if Microsoft was to buy Yahoo, it would be for $4.8 billion (Nordquist, 2017).

Also Study: Online Business Marketing Plan and Strategies

Slim profits – Though Yahoo still makes profits to date, it could do better being some of the first successful companies that grew with the internet era. Yahoo makes its profits from shareholding at and Yahoo Japan, and not so much from its main original services.


Poor or no strategy

Yahoo lacks a good strategy that can be used as a blueprint to success. Further, Yahoo lacks brand purpose and future brand vision. A company like Google has stuck by the same principles it made upon creation while Yahoo’s self description has changed 24 times in 24 years (Wharton, 2016). When Mayer’s became the CEO, she made efforts to gather young technology talents to revise the company strategy. Finding this expensive, she instead got to an acquisition binge for over $2.5 billion which has not benefited the company much (Nordquist, 2017). When comparing Yahoo’s strategy to that of Google, Yahoo is more of a media house than a search engine.

Poor leadership

Poor top leadership is probably one of the biggest contributors to Yahoo’s downfall. When Yahoo realized its downfall, it started appointing CEOs that would turnaround the company into something close to its old self. Though there were other CEOs who were appointed and left (4 CEO’s in 5 years), Marissa Mayer, is probably when Yahoo really got it wrong in terms of leadership. Yahoo viewed Mayer as the savior of the company yet all she brought it were the wrong strategies. For example, among her first activities as CEO was to personally participate in logo redesign and went on to acquire new technologies and companies for over $2.5 billion (Nordquist, 2017).

Poor organizational culture

Yahoo’s culture has been broken as a result of poor leadership. When Mayer took over leadership, she made the organization and the task of giving Yahoo a turnaround about herself, not about those she was leading. “If you dismiss the opinions of your team, don’t be shocked when they stop sharing their insight (Myatt, 2015). Under Mayer’s, leadership, top executives were leaving the company and it was losing its best talents. Mayer failed to sustain the strong and vibrant culture that Yahoo had before (Mattone, 2016). The biggest failure of leadership was from the board of directors for failing to notice how much Mayer’s was unsuited for the job since they observed her track record in technology and brand execution but not her ability to motivate and engage talent and maintain a vibrant culture (Mattone, 2016)

Yahoo Strategic Analysis

Yahoo SWOT Analysis

Porter’s Five Forces Analysis of Yahoo

Threat of new entrants- medium to high.

In the recent past, there are low entry barriers thanks to the internet and technology advancement hence new entrants are coming up in a lot of areas that Yahoo is involved in; such as directories, mail, answers platforms etc. “Thus, scale economies may be less important in this context and new entrants can go to market with lower capital costs” (Dess, Lumpkin, & Eisner, 2007, p. 282).

Bargaining power of buyers- high

Buyers have low switching costs and the next seller is just a click away. “The internet and wireless technologies may increase buyer power by providing consumers with more information to make buying decisions and by lowering switching costs (Dess et al., 2007, p. 284). Buyers are also more informed and will know where to get a better version of everything.

Bargaining power of suppliers-high

Yahoo depends on existing technologies in order to improve its own. This means suppliers do have high bargaining power (Kasi, 2017). They also depend on sources of information, to feed their directories and search engines which and with the opportunities available in the industry for suppliers to sell their material, they do have high bargaining power.

Threat of substitutes- high

Substitutes have increased due to information available on the internet. Traditional media which is still usable today is another source of substitutes.

Competitive rivalry- high

This is one of the biggest threats to Yahoo; the intensity of competition on the internet is very high. The main competitor is Google which already has 83% market share. In other services that Yahoo offers, there is high competition such as directories, answers, etc.

Proposed Solutions


Before committing to any activity, it is very important that Yahoo reviews its strategy. The strategy must consider the changes that have happened in the internet environment since the last one was created. It must also foresee the expectations of the people in the future. This information will feed Yahoo with a strategy that is not going to be obsolete in the next few years, but one that is sustainable in the long run.



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YAHOO INC. Harvard Case Solution & Analysis

Home >> Harvard Case Study Analysis Solutions >> YAHOO INC.

YAHOO INC. Case Solution

The statement of cash flow includes inflows and outflows of cash from operating, investing and financing activities, giving a net cash balance at the end of the year. Yahoo’s wasn’t generating enough cash in years 6 and 7 but suddenly in 2008 the firm ended up with a huge cash surplus. Following were the factors that derived the cash flow of Yahoo:

The term deferred revenue is referred as unearned revenue in which the company has already received payments from clients but hasn’t provided services yet (Deferred Revenue, 2018). Deferred revenue was main turning point in Yahoo’s statement of cash flow. The company might had introduced new attractive and cheap policies to attract users but still, the services were not provided yet.

Both terms are non-cash items and companies usually account them as an expense but they don’t actually pay it, for the year 8 Yahoo had comparatively bigger amount of depreciation and amortization that was increasing the net cash flow from operating activities.

Yahoo successfully saved a huge amount of cash from taxes that were contributing a positive effect in year 8 and increasing the cash from operating activities. For the past two years from 2008, the company was unable to get tax benefits.

During the year 8 Yahoo purchased R&D unit that was making cash inflows with a big amount. That was another positive point in net cash from operating activities and increased the net cash of Yahoo. On the other side there were no such cash inflows in the year 2006 and 2007.

Liabilities and expenses increased during the year 2008 but the firm hadn’t paid them yet that was causing a cash surplus, comparatively for the last two years the expenses and liabilities were not that high.

Yahoo’s performance was improving that’s why the firm took advantage of the moment and issued huge amount of shares in market to raise funds. Common stock was another big factor for cash surplus.

Yahoo is a giant firm having long term focus and strategic plans, every firm wants to minimize risk and support themselves with a financial backup to target liquidity problems. Yahoo invested a huge amount of cash in marketable securities to overcome any cash defect that might have raised during the period. Marketable securities are highly liquid tool that can be sold quickly on a reasonable price in financial market, these are basically short term financial instruments having life of less than a year. (Mrketable securities, 2018) Moreover they do not cause big losses when a firm sells them. Similarly, Yahoo got its cash back when security matured to overcome any shortage of cash in statement of cash flow.

Deferred revenue is referred to as the revenue that is unearned i.e. liability. Clients already paid for work to the firm but the work was not done yet. The firm had promised to provide services but later on, in this case Yahoo earned a revenue of 33.21B USD whereas services were yet to be provided. Earning the big amount of revenue didn’t mean that the firm’s profits were higher. The big amount of revenue expressed that the company had done a good job in sort of attracting customers with the help of advertising offers but the future was uncertain for profit.


Overall, Yahoo is a huge online platform that provides space for the internet users as a portal and search engine. The firm was facing the liquidity problems in year 6 and 7 but suddenly, in year 8 the firm had cash surplus with significant numbers. The main factor for cash surplus were deferred revenue and issuance of common stock. Yahoo was also involved in the sale and purchase of short term financial instruments to overcome cash deficit that arose during the year.


Yahoo should have focused on the cost deeply, the firm needed to negotiate with its service providers and suppliers in order to get low costs because Yahoo had already gathered revenue and they had to offer services in return. If the new sale terms and policies became successful then the organization needed to focus on same approach. Investing in marketable securities was an appreciable action by firm, Yahoo didn’t need big surplus of cash with it, they could have invested back money somewhere else to get some income..


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