Netflix has one of the most interesting stories of any company from the last 30 years. At one point, Netflix offered itself to Blockbuster at reportedly a very good price. Netflix even helped create the Roku player before deciding it would rather not get into the hardware business. Now we learn that Yahoo once considered buying Netflix but decided Tumblr was a better idea.
Recently Marissa Mayer, the former CEO of Netflix, had an interview with Tech Brew. During that interview, she opened up about Yahoo’s $1.1 billion dollar deal back in 2013.
Reportedly back in 2013, Netflix would have been worth $4 billion, and Hulu was $1.3 billion. Instead, Yahoo decided to buy Tumblr for $1.1 billion. Now Marissa Mayer says “and either of those, with hindsight being 20/20, would have been a better acquisition.”
Here is how Marissa Mayer describes Yahoo’s thoughts around buying Netflix, Hulu, or Tumblr. “We looked at a transformative acquisition, and we bought Tumblr. At the same time, we were also considering whether it was possible to buy Hulu or, ironically, Netflix. And I think Netflix was $4 billion and Hulu was at $1.3 billion at the time. And either of those, with hindsight being 20/20, would have been a better acquisition.”
Today’s cord cutting world and Yahoo as a company would likely be very different if they had purchased Hulu or Netflix instead of Tumblr. The question now is would Netflix and Hulu be as successful as they are now if Yahoo had owned them for the last ten years?
Back in 2017, Verizon purchased Yahoo for $4.5 billion. Tumblr was sold off by Verizon for a reported $3 million. Yahoo has now been sold to the private-equity firm Apollo Global Management. It is hard to see Verizon purchasing Yahoo for just $4.5 billion in 2017 if they owned Netflix or Hulu.
Hulu is currently caught up in questions about its future now. Disney has a deal to buy the rest of Comcast’s stake in Hulu and become the sole owner as soon as next year. Now though, there are reports that Disney is not sure what it wants to do with Hulu going forward now that Disney+ has become its main focus.
It is very possible that if Hulu or Netflix had been sold to Yahoo in 2013, cord cutting and Yahoo would likely be very different today. Once again, this story shows how strange Netflix’s path to cord cutting dominance has been since it launched back in 1998 to customers.