Yahoo Mail App Gets Caller ID, Photo Upload Features

Yahoo on Tuesday launched Caller ID and photo upload features for its Yahoo Mail app that will help users identify a caller from their email contact list and also access their phone camera roll on a desktop.

The new features are now available and users can update Yahoo Mail app in the App Store (iOS v4.13) and Google Play (Android v5.13).

The new Caller ID feature will show a user who is calling even if the number is not saved in the smartphone, the company said in a statement. Yahoo Mail uses contact information from emails.

As soon as a user contacts you, the contact’s name will surface with the call and Yahoo Mail will update names in your call history or when you dial.

To enable this feature, simply go to Settings, then Phone, forward to “Call Blocking and Identification”, toggle the switch for Yahoo Mail and save the settings.

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Once the new photo upload feature is enabled, your recent camera roll photos will be instantly available when accessing your Yahoo Mail account on desktop.

To enable this feature user’s need to open the Yahoo Mail app on iOS or Android, go to Settings, then, Photo upload and tap the “Upload photos” toggle.

In a blog post, Yahoo VP of Product Management Michael Albers said, “Consider for a moment that our inboxes have become a place where all of our life’s details are captured and stored. With smarter contacts and better photo-sharing, we’re helping you take full advantage of your inbox!”

Alibaba Unlikely to Be Interested in Yahoo’s Core Business

Day Two Of The Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum 2015Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding is unlikely to be interested in buying Yahoo’s Internet business, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Yahoo’s board, in a three-day meeting that started Wednesday, is weighing a sale of the struggling business, Reuters reported Tuesday, citing a source.

The business isn’t attractive, “given the difficulties successive managers have had in turning it around,” the Journal reported Thursday, citing a person familiar with the matter.

There is almost certainly no buyer who would realistically retain the existing management.

“There is almost certainly no buyer who would realistically retain the existing management,” Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser said. He also said that U.S.-centric digital advertising had evidently not been Alibaba’s focus.

Yahoo’s board, which includes co-founder David Filo, Walmart Stores (WMT) former Chief Executive Officer H. Lee Scott Jr. and Charles Schwab (SCHW) Chairman Charles R. Schwab, is also expected to discuss the planned spinoff of Yahoo’s 15 percent stake in Alibaba.

Alibaba will be interested in buying back its shares from Yahoo only at a steep discount, the Journal said, citing the person.

Yahoo shareholders could end up paying billions in taxes if the U.S. Internal Revenue Service deems the spinoff taxable. The company had sought a private letter ruling from the IRS to confirm if the transaction would result in a tax obligation, but the IRS denied the request in September.

Activist investor Starboard Value said Yahoo’s board should “immediately abandon” the spinoff and begin a “competitive process to sell its valuable core business at the highest price possible.”

The board is “seriously considering” pausing on the spinoff until there is more clarity on the tax implications, Re/code reported, citing sources.

Yahoo had earlier planned to complete the spinoff by the end of December, but the company said in October the transaction was now expected to close in January.

Alibaba and Yahoo were yet to respond to requests for comment.

Yahoo (YHOO) shares were down 1 percent at $35.25 in late morning trading. Alibaba (BABA) shares were down 1 percent at $84.07.

Yahoo could become Internet history

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A decade and then some past its heyday as an Internet pioneer, Yahoo will spin off its core business after failing to convince people that its products are still worthwhile.

The Sunnyvale, California, company said Wednesday it will scrap its plans to spin off its stake in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, worth more than $30 billion. Instead, it will reverse course and look at “alternative transaction structures” to separate the stake. That approach could make it easier to ultimately sell the spun-off core business.

“Informed by our intimate familiarity with Yahoo’s unique circumstances, the Board remains committed to accomplishing the significant business purposes and shareholder benefits that can be realized by separating the Alibaba stake from the rest of Yahoo,” Chairman Maynard Webb said in a statement. “To achieve this, we will now focus our efforts on the reverse spin-off plan.”

Yahoo’s board voted unanimously for the reverse spin-off, but it wasn’t the first choice for action because it will take a year to perform and involves more outside parties, CEO Marissa Mayer said on a conference call. Yahoo needs the approval of shareholders, US regulators, Yahoo investor SoftBank and business partners of which there are “too many to name,” Chief Financial Officer Ken Goldman said on the call.

A spin-off of Yahoo’s Web business might have more symbolic significance than anything else. The once-mighty trailblazer, founded in 1995 by Stanford University students Jerry Yang and David Filo, is one of the last independent titans of the early Internet. In June, AOL, which helped many people get onto the Internet for the first time through its early dial-up service, was bought by Verizon. Also now just memories of that earlier era are Netscape, Napster and many of the other services that taught us, while stabbing in the dark, how to surf, listen and live online. Yahoo was once the brightest star of the bunch.

The spin-off would also mean the company that Yang and Filo co-founded could be stripped down to an entity that’s of more interest to investors than everyday computer users.

Of course, it could be argued that most of us largely lost interest in Yahoo a long time ago.

When Mayer, a former Google executive, was named CEO in 2012, she was tasked with turning around the already lumbering company.

To do that, she has tried to remake Yahoo for the mobile era as consumers migrated from PCs to smartphones and tablets. She has refreshed each of its mobile properties, including Yahoo Mail, Weather, Finance and Sports. She has also tried to make the company a premier media destination, hiring well-known personalities such as journalist Katie Couric and acquiring the rights to high-profile shows like the sitcom “Community.”

But Mayer hasn’t been able to replicate the excitement around products that many of Yahoo’s fiercest rivals have been able to ignite. Once one of the most powerful brands on the Web, Yahoo has been overtaken in search and email by Google, and beaten in media by Netflix and Amazon. (Yahoo has acknowledged it never found a way to make money off “Community.”) Facebook and even newer players like Snapchat have won over users that Yahoo has coveted for itsmessaging app.

Brett Sappington, director of research at Parks Associates, said one of Yahoo’s biggest mistakes was not making bets in new and innovative areas, as Google and Amazon have.

“In the world of the Internet, which is diverse and incredibly unpredictable, you have to be adaptable and open to change,” said Sappington. “Yahoo in contrast really defined their business very tightly.”

Yahoo plans to reveal details of strategic changes to its core businesses during its next quarterly conference call. It wouldn’t discuss options for selling those businesses.

“We have made no determination to sell the company or any part of it,” Webb said. “We believe that we are tremendously undervalued, and we think the best path to unlocking that value is by separating the Alibaba assets from our operating businesses and also by turning around the performance of the operating businesses.”

Possible buyers for Yahoo’s main business could include private equity firms, big media companies and telecommunications companies. On Monday, Verizon Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo said the wireless carrier would explore buying Yahoo’s Internet business if it “makes sense,” according to Bloomberg.

This isn’t the first time Yahoo has been caught up in talk of a sale. In a saga that dragged on for months, Microsoft in 2008 bid $44.6 billion on the company, though then-CEO Yang balked.

Yahoo’s planned Alibaba spinoff was designed to let Yahoo off the hook for a tax bill of billions of dollars. But in May, questions began to pop up about the spinoff, after the Internal Revenue Service proposed new rules around taxing corporate spinoffs.

Activist investor group Starboard Value, which owns less than 1 percent of Yahoo, was originally behind the spinoff but in November told Mayer to jettison Yahoo’s Internet business instead.

Max Levchin, co-founder of PayPal and the first person named by Mayer to the Yahoo board, told the company Friday that he was resigning as a director. Yahoo said Levchin is stepping down to focus on his online lending startup, Affirm, and has dropped nearly all of his other board commitments.

Yahoo’s chairman, meanwhile, went out of his way Wednesday to defend Mayer’s performance.

“The board has complete confidence in the management team and the leadership of Yahoo and believes it’s making important strides toward its transformation,” Webb said on the conference call.

Mayer tooted her own horn, too.

“Today, I’m leading very different company from the one I started at in July of 2012 — one with better products, improved partnerships, more focused employees, dramatically more mobile users and mobile revenue, more modern advertising tech to serve our clients’ needs,” she said. “We’re taking further steps to tighten our focus and prioritize our investments to drive growth.”