Rumors about this had been circulating for a while now, since Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) never knew what to do with it from the start: it is killing the third-party publisher services from Maven Networks, the online video tech service that it bought early last year for about $160 million ($143 million in cash and the rest in options). Yahoo will continue to use the technology it inherited for internal purposes (see the Yahoo statement below). The news about Maven’s closure first surfaced on Techcrunch and was mentioned in passing on NewTeeVee last month, though both were focused on complete closure of the company’s services. Only the publisher services, which are being used by sites such as FoxNews.com and FT.com, are being phased out, though the company won’t confirm a timeline. Yahoo will continue to use Maven’s technology, which has been integrated into Yahoo video player (for instance, the player being used on Yahoo Sports), and its video ad services for advertisers and publishers.
The partial closure of Maven isn’t a surprise, for various reasons: on the positive side, this continues CEO Carol Bartz’s quest for streaminlining Yahoo’s disparate products and focusing on core. On a broader point, Yahoo hasn’t figured out the online video picture, yet, after multiple half-hearted attempts at it. That despite the fact that it still has one of the largest consumer online video services, mainly on the back of its music videos service. It has closed two other video services lately, including video editing service Jumpcut, which it also bought, and Y!Live, a live video streaming service. Then there has been a slew of exec turnover and ayoffs in its video division over the last year as well. Possibly a factor too: Maven had the unfortunate timing of being bought at the same time as *Microsoft* announced its bid for Yahoo, and initial integration efforts possibly were all over the place as a result of the confusion then; Maven CEO Hilmi Ozguc left Yahoo after six months. And then, lastly, Yahoo’s track record at integrating most of its acquisitions has never been great: think Broadcast.com and MusicMatch, among plenty of others.
This comes as CEO Carol Bartz enthusiastically mentioned at the D conference earlier this month that video was an exciting area for the company, and it was interested in acquiring more video technology. Meanwhile, other competing startups have already started offering programs to present Maven customers: Seattle-based Delve Networks has started one, according to Seattle PI.
The full Yahoo statement, which explains the situation:
“Since making the acquisition in 2008, Maven Networks has played an important role in our video strategy, providing essential talent and core technology for Yahoo! to enhance its consumer and advertising offerings. Maven technology is used in the Yahoo video player and Yahoo Video Advertising Platform that is being used to serve on-network advertising as well as off-network advertising for Yahoo partners including members of the Newspaper Consortium.
While video initiatives remain a top priority for Yahoo!, both for its consumer and advertising experiences, we are increasing investment in some areas while scaling back in others. After careful consideration, Yahoo! is planning to wind down its Maven Networks contracts. This decision will allow us to focus our resources on the continued improvement of our core video offerings, such as enhancing the consumer video experience on Yahoo!.
Since Q4 2008, we have closed or announced our intention to close, nearly twenty Yahoo! services