While Alibaba has been growing, Yahoo has been shrinking. The contraction has occurred even as the advertisers that provide most of Yahoo's revenue have been spending more money on the Internet. Most of that online marketing has been flowing to Internet search leader Google Inc. and, to a lesser extent, Facebook Inc.'s popular social network.
Yahoo's financial funk has depressed its stock for years, increasing the pressure on the company's management to extract money from its Alibaba investment to reward its shareholders.
Since beginning its discussions with Alibaba in 2010, Yahoo has had five CEOs, including two interim leaders. The deal head already been agreed upon in May, while Yahoo was being run by Ross Levinsohn, who left shortly after the company hired Mayer in July.
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