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Yahoo! Marissa Mayer Courting AOL in Idaho Meet

A Yahoo!-AOL merger has been rumored since the days of Mayer’s predecessor at the Yahoo! helm, Carol Bartz.

WIRED Business Conference: Think Bigger

Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer had a long private chat with AOL Chief Executive Tim Armstrong at the Duchin bar in the Sun Valley, Idaho resort, Thursday night, the NY Post reported. This and many other rumored meets and greets are taking place as we speak, at the Allen & Co. investment bank’s 31st annual Allen & Company Sun Valley media finance Conference.

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The Post calls it “mogulfest.” Which it is, unless you’re part of the working press, in which case, we’re told, you’re not nearly as festive as are those moguls.

That’s why when Mayer, 39, and Armstrong, 42, sat across from each other at one of the bar, near the door, where whole brigades of media folks could see them chatting, it made an impression. There was, finally, something to report. And speculate.

They’re both former Google executives, and a Yahoo!-AOL merger has been rumored since the days of Mayer’s predecessor at the Yahoo! helm, Carol Bartz.

A merger would give them a larger share of online advertising. Yahoo! takes in some 5.8 percent of US digital spending, AOL about 2.3 percent, according to eMarketer. Will they make more as one enterprise? Possibly, but not certainly. Which is why, we suppose, the rumored merger never happened so far.

AOL is very content-rich, with prolific websites like the Huffington Post, Engadget and TechCrunch.

Mayer has launched online magazines, and hired Katie Couric as global news anchor. But her ad sales barely climbed 2 percent in 2013.

Eric Jackson, The founder of Ironfire Capital, told the Post a is not in the cards, because Mayer thinks AOL isn’t cool.

“I think she’s a person who cares very much what the Silicon Valley elite are saying to her at parties about what’s cool and what’s not cool, ” Jackson said. “Nobody thinks AOL is cool.”

Well, AOL is your grandfather’s email server, isn’t it?

Jackson thinks Mayer would rather pick up Pinterest or Yelp.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg was at the conference—both as mogul and media. He refused to say anything unkind about his successor, Mayor Bill de Blasio. Bloomberg reminded the crowd that his own predecessor, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, had not to criticized him, either.

Secretary of State John Kerry is in Afghanistan, and his attempt to teleconference with the conference Friday failed. Organizers say they’ll try again.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was present, but did not speak to the moguls.

Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, was supposedly there, but was not available to comment on the LeBron James decision to play for his team.

Former New York Knick Bill Bradley, in Idaho in his capacity as a managing director at Allen & Co., said he couldn’t find Gilbert either.

So, all in all, there must be tons of deals happening right now in Idaho, and we’re staying tuned. It’s the best we can do for now.



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