Marissa Mayer said she would be looking for small acquisitions focused on mobile technology as CEO of Yahoo (YHOO), and the company followed through with its second purchase of a small startup in less than two months Tuesday.
OnTheAir, a San Francisco video-conferencing startup that launched in March, said on its website Tuesday that it has been acquired by Yahoo; the company promised a talk-show-style setup that would allow thousands to join in a chat similar to Google (GOOG) Hangouts. Yahoo confirmed the move in an email, saying the five-person team it acquired would focus on the Internet company's mobile offerings.
No purchase price was disclosed, but OnTheAir has publicly received less than $1 million in seed funding and Mayer said earlier this year that Yahoo would look to spend small amounts on acquisitions -- in the tens of millions to low hundreds of millions at the top end.
Mayer said in her first earnings conference
call with reporters, in October, that her major focus would be on mobile technology, calling "a focused, coherent mobile strategy" her top priority in leading the company.
"At some point, at least half our technical workforce should be working on mobile," Mayer said, "because Yahoo should be a predominantly mobile company."
Just days after making that statement, Yahoo moved to acquire a New York-based mobile startup named Stamped that was founded by two former Google employees and received financing from celebrities including Justin Bieber.
The leaders of Stamped -- Robby Stein, who once worked for Mayer as a product manager at Google, Bart Stein and Kevin Palms -- were seen as the leaders of Yahoo's new mobile efforts, with Yahoo exec Adam Cahan saying in a blog post that the crew would "create a new center of mobile product development for Yahoo."
While OnTheAir is not exclusively focused on mobile, it seems the five workers that created the product will be focused on that area with their new employer. Cahan said in an emailed statement Tuesday that "we can't wait to work with them to create the best possible mobile experience for our users."
The OnTheAir workers -- Abel Allison, Daniel Hopkins, Erik Goldman, Josh Schwarzapel and Mike Kerzhner -- have experience at major Silicon Valley companies such as Google and Apple (AAPL), and four of them earned degrees from Stanford. The main thrust behind Tuesday's move was likely a talent grab by Yahoo, as the company tries to catch up with its competitors in the battle for engineering talent.
"Hiring the most talented mobile product thinkers and engineers is a big priority for us moving forward," Cahan said in confirming the OnTheAir acquisition.
The OnTheAir team also said in their statement that they would be focused on mobile at Yahoo.
"When we first met with the team at Yahoo, it was clear that everybody there is committed to making mobile products the backbone for the world's daily habits. All in all, it's a fascinating time to be joining Yahoo," the company's website statement read.
Yahoo stock jumped higher than $19 for the first time in more than two years last week, a relief for investors who have waited out the company's Wall Street doldrums. Shares moved close to that level again Tuesday, moving as high as $18.96 by 10:30 a.m. Pacific time, when Yahoo was trading for $18.87, an increase of 1.7 percent from Tuesday's closing price.
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