Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Apple gets illegal tax benefits in Ireland

Ireland appears to be granting Apple illegal rebates that may have to be recouped, the European Union's competition watchdog said as it pressed forward with an inquiry into Apple's overseas tax practices. 

If the EU's preliminary finding is confirmed over the coming months, Apple Inc could face a repayment bill worth billions of dollars because it funnels the bulk of its international sales through subsidiaries in Ireland, where it benefits from low, negotiated tax deals. 

In a letter to the Irish government published Tuesday, the 28-nation bloc's executive Commission said the tax treatment granted to Apple "constitutes state aid" and therefore raises "doubts about the compatibility" with EU law. 

EU rules forbid governments from helping companies to avoid undermining free market competition. The EU first announced the probe in June, also targeting coffee store chain Starbucks and others as part of a crackdown on multinationals exploiting tax loopholes. 

The EU Commission is now requesting further documents from Ireland before making a legally binding decision on whether the rebate granted to Apple is illegal and must be recouped, wholly or partially. 

The EU probe focuses on exaggerated transfer pricing, where one part of a company charges another part an inflated price for goods or services to shift profits to low-tax locations. 

If Apple had to repay some taxes, the money would come as a windfall to Irish state coffers. However, fearful of losing its reputation as a business-friendly country with low corporate taxes, the Irish government is adamant that no EU rules have been breached. 
The Commission, however, said in the letter the tax deals struck with Apple in 1991 and in 2007 show "several inconsistencies" and may not comply with international taxation standards. The Brussels-based executive body also was critical of the fact that Apple's applicable tax rate appears to have been the result of "a negotiation rather than a pricing methodology" which a "prudent, independent" tax authority should not have accepted. 

Apple's tax practices have also attracted scrutiny in the United States, where a Senate Committee last year published a scathing report on the Cupertino-based firm's tax schemes. The report held up Apple as an example of legal tax avoidance made possible by the complicated US tax code, estimating the firm avoided at least $3.5 billion in US federal taxes in 2011 and $9 billion in 2012 by using its tax strategy. 

Apple one the world's most valuable and profitable firms — sat on some $164 billion in cash and cash equivalents, with $138 billion stashed away in foreign subsidiaries, according to its latest quarterly report in June. The company estimated its effective US tax rate is 26.1%, as opposed to the statutory US rate of 35%, primarily because of undistributed foreign earnings. 

"A substantial portion" of those foreign earnings was generated by subsidiaries organized in Ireland, Apple said in the regulatory filing, adding that "such earnings are intended to be indefinitely reinvested outside the US."

Monday, September 29, 2014

Google trying to limit Samsung's control over Android

When it comes to Android devices, it's common for various phone makers to put their own software over Google's clean version of Android.
If you swipe through one of Samsung's Galaxy phones, for example, you are likely to come across some of Samsung's apps and its own Galaxy app store.

Now, however, it seem that Google wants its partners to put its own apps and services at the forefront of most Android phones.

Amir Efrati at The Information says he has obtained confidential documents that reveal Google has been upping its requirements for partners that want to build Android phones.

In particular, the documents suggest Google wants its partners to place more of its apps on Android phones and feature them in more prominent places.

One reason for this change is that Google wants the Android experience to be more consistent across devices, Efrati reports. This means Google would turn down certain customizations proposed by phone makers, and Efrati notes that "there have been frequent fights about that, particularly between Google and Samsung."

This wouldn't be too surprising — Samsung is known for adding its own TouchWiz software to its Android devices. The company also emphasizes its own software features and apps when promoting its new phones.

While Samsung is one of Google's biggest partners, it's also its most formidable rival when it comes to the smartphone space. Samsung's incredibly popular Galaxy phones compete directly with Google's Nexus devices and other smartphones, such as Motorola's, that use near-stock versions of Android.

Google's partners are reportedly saying the company is "tightening the screws" on these Android contracts, known as Mobile Application Distribution Agreements, according to Efrati.

But many of these manufacturers feel as if they don't have a choice since other operating systems such as Windows Phone, Tizen, and Firefox OS have limited reach. Android currently commands an overwhelming 85% of the global smartphone market as of July 2014, according to Strategy Analytics.

As part of the updated contract, Google is requiring one of its partners to increase the number of Google-made apps from nine in 2011 to 20 in 2014. This year's agreement also required that there must be a Google search widget on the default home screen of the phone along with an icon for the Google Play store and a Google icon that houses 13 apps included Google Chrome, Google Maps, Google Drive, YouTube, and Gmail among others.

Google is also reportedly requiring partners to follow its guidelines regarding hotwords for voice-enabled searches and virtual assistants.

It's unclear exactly what the impact of these new contracts will be, but if Efrati's report is legitimate this may mean we'll be seeing less customization from some of Google's partners. Samsung has already been putting more of its resources into Tizen, a different open-source software based on Linux.

The company's new Gear S smartwatch, for example, runs on Tizen, but we have yet to see a mainstream phone from Samsung that runs on something other than Android.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Microsoft set to offer first look of new Windows

Microsoft will unveil a new name for its best-known product on September 30 when it offers the first official glimpse of its latest Windows operating system.
The project — known for the past few years as "Threshold" inside the software company and "Windows 9" outside it — will likely get an entirely new brand, or just be called Windows, analysts said, ahead of its full release early next year.

The name change is symbolic of a new direction and style for Microsoft, which is veering away from an aggressive focus on Windows and PCs, the hallmark of previous CEO Steve Ballmer. The new, quieter emphasis is on selling services across all devices and is championed by new boss Satya Nadella.

The switch also represents a desire to erase the ill will generated by Windows 8 — an ambitious attempt to redesign Windows with tablet users in mind — which ended up annoying and confusing the core market of customers who use mice and keyboards.

"Windows 8 was not a shining moment for Microsoft," said Michael Silver, an analyst at tech research firm Gartner. "Probably the biggest issue that lingers is the negative brand equity in the name."

Many users howled in protest over the death of the start-button menu and the introduction of a colorful grid of squares or tiles representing apps in what became known as the modern user interface, even though they could easily switch to a traditional desktop mode.

Judging by recent leaks online, which Microsoft has not tried to discredit, the start-button menu will come back in the next Windows, with an option of tacking on tiles if preferred.

But the problem of users having to toggle between the modern interface and the old-style desktop — for instance to use the full version of Excel spreadsheet software — has yet to be solved.

"The schizophrenic behavior between the modern user interface and the Windows desktop has got to go away," said David Johnson, an analyst at tech research firm Forrester. "They have to smooth that out."

Microsoft declined to comment on the new name, or what it plans to unveil on Tuesday.

The Redmond, Washington-based company has said only that it will have a "discussion" about where Windows is headed at a stylish event space in San Francisco on Tuesday.

The choice of wording and venue are key to a humbler, lower-profile Microsoft under Nadella, who is keen to rebuild respect in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley as it moves away from the PC and to play a bigger part in the mobile computing world fashioned by Apple and Google.

Nadella's slogan is "mobile first, cloud first," and although he will not be at the San Francisco event — he is traveling in Asia — that theme will be at the fore.

"This is a launching pad and catalyst for Nadella's holistic cloud vision over the coming years," said Daniel Ives, an analyst at investment bank FBR Capital Markets. "Windows 9 is a potentially game-changing product release for Microsoft."

Nadella is resigned to the fact that sales of PCs have leveled off, and with it sales of Windows. With the explosion of smartphones and tablets, Windows now powers only 14% of computing devices sold last year, according to Gartner.

His response is to focus on selling high-quality services — such as the Office suite of applications or storing documents in the cloud — to people on whatever device or system they are using.

"Microsoft is changing from a company that was Windows-centric to one that is services-centric," said Silver at Gartner. "It has to be that way. Windows revenue is likely going to decline, and Microsoft's task is to replace that Windows revenue with revenue from services on all sorts of platforms."

The challenge is to come up with killer apps and services users can't live without.

"Microsoft built their business on being very good at delivering what people needed in the moment, for example Excel in the 1990s," said Johnson at Forrester. "That's what Microsoft has to get back to, innovating and creating things that people find indispensable."
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Friday, September 26, 2014

Samsung, BlackBerry speed up launches amid Apple chaos

South Korea's Samsung moved up the release date for it hotly anticipated Galaxy Note 4 big-screen smartphone, hitting the key Chinese market ahead of arch-rival Apple.
Samsung's head start in the sizzling "phablet" race came as Apple stumbled, abruptly pulling back an update for the iOS software powering iPhone after users complained of bugs — including one that disabled cellular service.

In a statement to the news website TechCrunch, Apple said: "We have received reports of an issue with the iOS 8.0.1 update. We are actively investigating these reports and will provide information as quickly as we can. In the meantime we have pulled back the iOS 8.0.1 update."

The apparently botched update came after a rash of complaints posted on social media about new-model, large-screen iPhones bending when stuffed in pockets of snug pants. Some users posted videos showing the handsets warping under pressure.

Samsung is credited with starting the "phablet" craze with the first Note that meshed tablet and smartphone features — particularly enhanced screen size.

Apple capitalized on the trend with the September 19 release of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in a handful of markets, not including China.

Samsung announced that the Note 4 smartphone will be launched in South Korea and China this week, ahead of the planned worldwide debut on October 17.

It marks first time a flagship Samsung product has gone on sale in China ahead of other markets, reflecting the firm's desire to battle growing competition from rivals.

Note 4 will be for sale in 140 markets by the end of October, according to Samsung.

Note 4 release overshadowed the kickoff of BlackBerry's newest Passport smartphone, aimed at business users in an effort to revive the fortunes of the struggling Canadian manufacturer.

The launches came after Apple reported a record opening weekend for its latest range of iPhones, the US firm's first foray into the big-screen market.

Sales of new iPhone models topped 10 million in just three days following Friday's launch in the US, Britain, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico and Singapore. Apple has not announced plans for selling the new iPhone in China.

The Passport is BlackBerry's first global launch of a product under John Chen since the chief executive took over last November.

The Passport, named for its approximate size to the travel document and will be available in stores in two weeks, is "packed with power" and "a lot of groundbreaking stuff," said Chen, appearing at a Toronto launch event with hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.

Analyst AviGreengart described the new phone as "the first competitive BlackBerry in years, because it isn't competing head on" with Apple or Samsung.

It is the third of four new phones to be launched by BlackBerry this year, after a budget Z3 smartphone was launched in Indonesia (one of its last bastions), and a sleek Porsche-designed phone sold in Dubai.

The upcoming BlackBerry Classic — which will be similar to the Passport — will be launched "between now and the end of the year," Chen said.

BlackBerry helped create a culture of mobile users glued to smartphones, but appetites have since shifted to iPhones or devices using Android software like Samsung's Galaxy line.

The mobile market has become increasingly saturated, while competition has intensified from Chinese handset makers such as Huawei and Lenovo.

In July, Samsung reported a 20% drop in net profit for the second quarter, and its shares are sitting at a two-year low.

Sales of Galaxy Note 3 topped 10 million in two months after its launch in 2013, and Lee predicted the Note 4 would outperform that.

The 5.7-inch Note 4 comes with S-pen stylus allowing users to draw and write on the screen and perform various tasks simultaneously. It will sell off-contract at prices ranging from around $700 to $900, depending on the country.

The presence of a stylus — not offered by Apple — offers a "unique input methodology," said Lee Young-Hee, executive vice president of Samsung's mobile unit.

According to International Data Corp., a record-high 295.3 million smartphones were shipped worldwide in the second quarter.

Samsung remained the world's top vendor, moving 74 million handsets, but saw its overall market share slip seven percentage points to 25.2%, while China's Huawei nearly doubled its shipments from the same quarter a year ago.

Samsung also announced Wednesday it plans an October launch for a new version of its Galaxy Gear smartwatch, as well as a virtual reality headset, Gear VR.

The Apple Watch unveiled earlier this month is expected in stores early next year.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Windows 7 PCs may disappear after October 31

Thinking about picking up a new PC with Windows 7 pre-installed? You might want to hurry as Microsoft has announced it will no longer supply certain versions of the OS to hardware partners from October 31. 
Post October, Microsoft will stop sending copies of Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium or Ultimate to PC makers, which will be able to sell off (but not replenish) remaining stock. A cut-off date for Windows 7 Pro is yet to be announced. 

The move is a not-so-subtle nudging of users toward Windows 8, which has struggled to find its footing since launching in 2012. According to figures from NetMarketShare, 13.4% of PC users are using Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, compared with 51.2% on Windows 7 and 23.89% running the 12-year-old OS Windows XP. 

Microsoft revealed earlier this year that it is ending mainstream (free) support for Windows 7, which turns five on October 22, on January 21 2015. That date will see it transition to Extended Support (which will end in 2020) and will include security updates and paid hotfix support. 

Nine lives 

Microsoft is hosting an event in San Franciso next week which is likely to be used to show off the next version of Windows, Windows 9 (also known as "Threshold"). 

A slew of juicy leaks have so far revealed Windows 9 to feature a redesigned Start Menu that incorporates Live Tiles, OS X-like mulit-desktop functionality, a notification centre and Microsoft's Siri-like personal assistance, Cortana.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

At $25 billion, Alibaba's IPO is world's biggest

Alibaba's IPO now ranks as the world's biggest at $25 billion, netting underwriters of the sale a more than $300 million windfall after the e-commerce giant and some shareholders parted with additional shares.
The fees are equivalent to 1.2% of the total deal, with Alibaba paying $121.8 million in commissions. Selling shareholders are set to pay another $178.6 million, according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday.

Overwhelming demand saw the IPO initially raise $21.8 billion, and then sent Alibaba Group Holding's stock surging 38% in its debut on Friday. That prompted underwriters to exercise an option to sell an additional 48 million shares, a source with direct knowledge of the deal said.

That means the IPO has surpassed a previous global record set by Agricultural Bank of China Ltd in 2010, when the lender raised $22.1 billion.

According to its prospectus, Alibaba had agreed to sell 26.1 million additional shares under the option, and Yahoo an additional 18.3 million, netting the two companies an extra $1.8 billion and $1.2 billion respectively.

Alibaba's Jack Ma had agreed under the same option to sell an extra 2.7 million shares and company co-founder Joe Tsai agreed to 902,782 additional shares.

The source declined to be identified as the details of the additional sale have yet to be made official. Alibaba declined to comment.

Citigroup, Credit Suisse Group AG, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs Group, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Morgan Stanley acted as joint bookrunners of the IPO.

Rothschild was hired as Alibaba's independent financial advisor on the deal.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Intel's plan to invest $6 billion approved by Israel

Israel's finance and economy ministries have approved a plan by Intel to invest $6 billion in the upgrade of its chip manufacturing plant, in what would be the largest single investment by a foreign company in the country. 

Intel will receive a government grant of $300 million over five years and will be eligible to pay a corporate tax rate of only 5% for a 10-year period, the ministries said. 
The US chip giant plans to hire close to 1,000 more workers at the plant in the southern town of Kiryat Gat by 2023, in addition to the 2,500 that already work there. 

"Intel's investment is a strategic asset for Israel's industry," Finance Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement. "This is the biggest investment by a foreign company ever in Israel and is further proof that Israel is at the forefront of technology and innovation." 

Intel submitted the investment plan in May and it is widely believed to be aimed at shifting to new 10 nanometer technology. 

The finance ministry said the plant would be the most advanced chip facility in the world. 

A company spokesman declined to comment. Intel had said in January that it would decide on the location of a 10 nanometer plant this year. Israel was one of a number of countries competing to host the new plant. 

Intel Israel's exports, mainly from its Fab 28 plant in Kiryat Gat, amounted to $3.8 billion in 2013, down from $4.6 billion the year before. 

In its 40 years in Israel, Intel has invested $10.8 billion in plants and development centres and received $1.5 billion in grants. It employs nearly 10,000 people in the Jewish state.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Unvired readies Google Glass for enterprises

A small oil painting hangs in the office of Srinivasan Subramanian, the chief technology officer of enterprise mobility startup Unvired. It depicts a white ship sailing against the current.
"My wife did that (painting)," said Subramanian pointing to it. "It is an indirect way of support from the family." Unvired's other cofounder Dilip Sridhar said the inside joke in the office is that Subramanian's wife made the ship go against the current to show the difficulty of product companies succeeding in India. But that was six years ago. 

These days the startup, tucked away in Bangalore's Jayanagar, is creating a buzz by offering Internet of Things (IoT) — a technology where devices communicate with each other intelligently — to large enterprises. 

It has notched up a marquee list of global customers, including New Zealand's electricity distribution company WEL Networks, chemical company Kaneka, life science and tech company Sigma-Aldrich, among others. 

"Services is something which is against our DNA," said Subramanian. "Product is more difficult route that is why it has taken us six years to reach there and weigh against the biggies." Unvired is now working with Google X, a facility run by Google on IoT, which will help enterprises to improve productivity and efficiency using wearable devices like Google Glass. 

It has built an inventory and warehouse management app for Google Glass that integrates directly with the software. 

"Workers can do hands-free transactions involving goods movement and other functions directly with enterprise software, without the need for a phone or tablet," said Sridhar, vice-president at Unvired. Wearables are in vogue, especially Google Glass and smartwatches. 

Companies can save over $1 billion (Rs 6,000 crore) in costs related to field service using wearables, according to research firm Gartner. 

"We selected the Unvired mobile platform over other competing platforms, because it offered us the greatest value, ease of building custom applications and seamless integration with SAP," said Andre Winterhalter, information technology director, Kaneka Americas Holding. 

This month, Unvired was selected as a finalist in technology innovation leadership awards by Silicon Valleybased research firm Ventana Research. 

Founded in 2007 by former employees at German software maker SAP, Unvired launched the enterprise IoT platform four years later in India. But it had to shift to other markets like United States and Middle East which were more open then to such technology. "The notion in India is that this kind of technology should be like the air we breathe — free," said Subramanian who declined to reveal the revenue of the firm. 

"We can't afford that." The company, which is completely bootstrapped, is now in talks with venture capital firms to raise around .  Rs 60 crore to scale up its operations. 

"There is lot of startup action in IoT," said Bhavanipratap Rana, investment director at Intel Capital, the venture capital arm of the world's largest chip maker. "Enterprise is more willing to pay." What is also unique about the Unvired founders is that they hired a non-founder Alok Pant, who was senior vice president, at NTT DATA (formerly Intelligroup), as chief executive of the firm. 

"When we wanted to go global, the choice was to be at $5 million (Rs 30 crore) with full control or a $100 million (Rs 600 crore) with lesser control, we chose the latter," said Sridhar. 

"We have disrupted the market sitting here in Jayanagar."

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Android is cooler than Apple

Holly Riggle, a 29-year-old white-collar worker from Ohio, is just the kind of everyday customer Apple would love to have for its new iPhone 6.
But Riggle is sticking to her Android smartphone, calling Apple less "original" than it was under former CEO Steve Jobs. She's one of the 16% of respondents in a Reuters/Ipsos poll who said Apple had become somewhat or much less cool in the last two years.

By comparison, some 11% of respondents said that Android had lost some sheen in the same timeframe. In a similar poll a year ago, 14.3% of 1,379 people surveyed thought Apple had lost its cool image between 2011 and 2012.

While still a juggernaut, with analysts expecting sales of around 9 million iPhone 6s in its launch weekend, Apple may be losing some of its shine, according to the poll.

More Americans feel that Apple has lost its "coolness" quotient than has the Android brand, according to the poll, conducted September 8-13.

When questioned on how they perceive five popular technology brands — Apple, Android, Microsoft, Dell and Hewlett-Packard — respondents gave the highest coolness factor rating to the Android brand, which includes devices such as Samsung and others that run on Google's mobile operating software.

About 50% said that in the last one to two years, the Android brand had grown cooler, compared with 48% who voted for Apple.

Although the poll is based on a limited sample, it reflects how Android products, which tend to be less expensive, have caused Apple to shed some of its buzz.
"Especially when you have competitors who are doing a lot of innovative things themselves and great advertising, it's not surprising that Apple doesn't have the same cachet and coolness that it once did," said Kevin Lane Keller, a branding expert and professor at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business.

The mobile phone wars have become a lot like politics, with battling Democrats and Republicans, said Rob Janoff, the designer of the Apple logo and an independent branding and design expert based in Chicago.

"You can't carry that magic forever," Janoff said, but that does not mean consumers should dismiss mature brands. "I think people have to accept that companies that are out there, they age."

Last year when it launched its previous version of the iPhone, Apple sold 9 million iPhone 5Ss and 5Cs in the first three days in stores. But drawing a comparison with the iPhone 6 is tricky as sales are based on availability, and Apple has not shared comparable details.

Also, this time iPhone is not launching in China on Friday, unlike last time, Shannon Cross, an analyst with Cross Research, explained.

Many customers will need to wait until next month for their new iPhones after Apple logged a record 4 million first-day pre-orders, double the number for the iPhone 5 two years ago.

Errand-service TaskRabbit said more than 500 people in the US and London have hired individuals at $25 an hour to stand in line at Apple stores to grab the new iPhone, up 43% from requests during iPhone 5 launch two year ago.

Apple's iPhone is "easily broken and expensive to fix," said Jim Jackson, a 55-year old from Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, who participated in the survey.

"Apple is following Samsung at this point in terms of design," Jackson added. "A couple of years ago they were making fun of Samsung because Samsung grew big and now they've gone big," he said, referring to the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6-Plus that had hit store shelves on Friday.

That was the only area where Riggle saw innovation at Apple.

"The only new idea they've come up with is that they're adjusting the size of their products," she said.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Google buys polling startup Polar to bolster Google+

Search giant adds to the team working on its social network. That includes the startup's founder, who wrote the book "Mobile First," which has become a Silicon Valley mantra.
Google on Thursday announced it has acquired the startup Polar, which specializes in online polls, signaling that the search giant is still investing in its fledgling social network. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The team will work on Google+, the search giant's social network, which hasn't had the same kind of traction as Facebook, the world's biggest social community with more than a billion users. By contrast, Google said in October that Google+ has 300 million "in-stream" users -- or people who actively view the main news page or feed.

Polar, founded last year, polls users on smartphones and tablets by letting them choose between two things -- for example: Coke versus Pepsi, or Warriors versus Lakers. The startup has served more than half a billion polls in the past eight months and had 1.1 million active voters in September, according to a blog post by founder Luke Wroblewski.

Google will shutter support of the service by the end of the year. In a statement, Google+ Vice President of Engineering Dave Besbris said he was "thrilled" about the deal.

Wroblewski, Yahoo's former chief design architect and an entrepreneur in residence at the venture capital firm Benchmark, also wrote the book "Mobile First," which is now an oft-repeated Silicon Valley mantra.

The acquisition seems in contrast to some of Google's recent moves surrounding the social network. Other shifts relating to Google+ have been around extending the social network's features beyond its closed walls. For example, Hangouts, Google's videoconferencing service, in July was added to the company's suite of enterprise software. The company will also reportedly break out popular photo features of Google+ to become a standalone brand.

It's unclear what exactly Wroblewski and his team will work on with Google+, but other newer social networks have recently integrated polling features. In August, the mobile app Secret, which lets users anonymously post to the service, added polls as well.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Yahoo acquires platform Luminate to bolster ailing ad business

The Internet giant buys another company, as Alibaba, the Chinese giant in which Yahoo has a large stake, moves closer to its blockbuster IPO.
Yahoo has acquired the startup Luminate, a service that focuses on advertising on top of online images, as the Internet giant tries to give its once-mighty ad business a jolt.

The service shut down earlier this week, and terms of the deal were not disclosed. TechCrunch earlier on Friday reported the news. Yahoo confirmed the acquisition to CNET.

The company, founded in 2008 in Mountain View, Calif., is an ad network with more than 180 million users and more than 6 billion image views each month, according to Luminate's website. The service lets marketers layer product, display and text ads over images.

"We are thrilled to be joining Yahoo, where we can continue to bring innovative experiences to an even larger audience," Luminate CEO James Everingham said in a blog post.

The acquisition is just the latest of CEO Marissa Mayer's more than 40 buyouts since she took the helm at Yahoo more than two years ago. The company has been looking to rejuvenate its advertising business, which has been in decline as younger competitors like Facebook have gained dominance in the online ad world. Last quarter, display revenue, an important financial metric for the company, fell 7 percent from the same period last year.

In February, the company introduced Gemini, a platform focused on so-called native advertising -- ads that fit in more with editorial content instead of being cordoned off like traditional ads.

The move also comes as Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant in which Yahoo has a large stake, announced on Friday that it will price the shares in its upcoming initial public offering at $60 to $66. Yahoo, which has owned a 22.6 percent stake of Alibaba, will retain a 16.3 percent stake after the IPO, which is poised to be the biggest ever.

The Chinese company could raise up to $24.3 billion. That means Yahoo could rake in more than $8 billion before taxes, though the company has promised to return half of the IPO proceeds to shareholders. But the remaining amount could go toward funding more of Mayer's acquisitions.