Ex-Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer says that spending $4 billion on Netflix, which is now worth more than $140 billion, would have been a more ‘transformative acquisition’ than Tumblr

Photo: Getty Images Matt Winkelmeyer / Stringer

Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has some regrets. Six years after leaving the position, she opened out on things she should have done differently this week.

“We looked at a transformative acquisition, and we bought Tumblr,” she said in a Tech Brew interview.

Mayer was actively engaged in Yahoo’s acquisition of Tumblr, a social blogging platform, for $1.1 billion in 2013. It quickly became evident that the price was far too high: By 2016, Yahoo had devalued Tumblr by more than $700 million.

However, in addition to Tumblr, she stated that the company was thinking about purchasing Netflix or Hulu.

“I think Netflix was $4 billion and Hulu was at $1.3 billion at the time,” she told Tech Brew. “And either of those, with hindsight being 20/20, would have been a better acquisition.”

That’s a bit of an understatement. Today, Netflix’s market capitalization exceeds $140 billion, while Disney owns a controlling stake in Hulu since 2019.

While Mayer may have wished she had tried to purchase Netflix, the remorse among former Blockbuster executives runs far deeper. Netflix cofounders Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph were laughed out of the room in 2000 when they sought to sell their firm to Blockbuster for $50 million.

Of course, at the time, Netflix was an unsuccessful startup providing DVD rentals by mail, but Blockbuster storefronts were a pillar of American life.

Mayer is now the CEO and co-founder of Sunshine, a business that offers an app that employs artificial intelligence to arrange contacts on smartphones.

“We mused about naming the company Mundane AI,” she told Tech Brew. “How do you take cutting-edge AI and just apply it to everyday problems that we all have to deal with?”

Mayer also expressed a few additional regrets. She stated that she had recruited the wrong person as her chief operating officer. In 2014, she fired Henrique De Castro, whom she had personally picked for the position in 2012 despite warnings that it was a mistake and that he was overpaid.

She also expressed regret for not having “done the tax-free Alibaba spinoff,” which would have “saved $10 billion for our shareholders or made them that money” and “allowed Yahoo to continue as an independent company.”

Yahoo, now controlled by Apollo Global Management, said three months ago that it would cut approximately 1,000 positions and would further decrease work later this year.

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