A Yahoo! Shopping, Personals, and Lawsuits Weekend Update

Posted Nov 5, 2006

What has Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO) been up to now-a-days you wonder? You’ve come to the right place. As you know, earlier this week, we announced that Yahoo! Food was released. These past few days, Yahoo! has has redesigned their shopping website for the holidays, partnered with BeliefNet for Yahoo! Personals, and has had multiple lawsuits to participate in.

Yahoo Shopping:
On Friday, Yahoo! Shopping added Bargains & Sales section to serve as a focal point for finding coupon codes and sales for various shopping websites. Yahoo! Bargains & Sales are sorted by popular categories such as Clothing Bargains & Sales, Electronics Bargains & Sales, and Home & Garden Bargains & Sales. InformationWeek has reported:
“Yahoo and other shopping sites are gearing up for what’s expected to be a good holiday shopping season on the Web. Online retail sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas are expected to reach $32 billion, which is 18 percent higher than last year, according to JupiterResearch. In addition, a record 114 million people are expected to shop by mouse this year to avoid the long line and crowds at the mall. That number reflects a 6 percent increase over last year[Source].”

Yahoo! Personals:
Yahoo! Personals and Beliefnet.com have formed a partnership to enhance spiritual dating. This new service is called “SoulMatch” and is now the biggest service of its kind since the partnership. Here is a screenshot from the BeliefNet homepage:

BeliefNet claims to have over 9 million users and Yahoo! Personals has about 5 million unique visitors per month. “Soulmatch will allow people to search for matches within certain spirtual and religious beliefs [source].” Yahoo! had made a similar deal recently with Indian-based wedding website, BharatMatrimony.com for $8.6 million.

Yahoo! China: is filing a lawsuit against Qihoo.com, a Chinese rival portal created by a former President of Yahoo! China, Zhou Hongyi. This lawsuit claims that Zhou Hongyi embezzled from and defrauded Yahoo! China.

Another pending lawsuit against Qihoo.com is that Yahoo! China claims that Qihoo’s 360 Safe anti-spyware software prompts users to uninstall the Yahoo! toolbar. “This isnâ??t helping Qihoo, which is reportedly trying to raise another round of funding at a high valuation of about $80 million. Its main backer, Sequoia Capital, had a conflicts in China too,” stated Matt Marshall of VentureBeat. “He also offered money to key Yahoo China staff if they left the company, the suit will allege. He even launched press releases through front PR firms, saying in one case that a Yahoo China deal with MSN had expired when in fact it hadn’t, the suit will claim.”

This is not the first encounter between Yahoo! and Qihoo. “He [Zhou] was the founder of 3721, Chinaâ??s first search engine, which Yahoo bought for $120 million in 2003 to help it gain a significant foothold that had eluded it in China since it entered in 1999,” Marshall explained. “But 3721â??s software had become popular by lodging itself in computers as spyware. It introducing pop-windows, bedeviling its users â?? and some would say it introduced spyware into China.”

VentureBeat also reported that there is a rumor that Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo! Inc. highly disapproves of Qihoo’s business practices so he would be meeting with Michael Moritz of Sequoia Capital to potentially dissuade the firm from re-investing into Qihoo. Qihoo is rumored to be looking for another $80 million.

Yahoo! Inc. had plugged in $1 billion into Alibaba.com, who took over the reins of Yahoo! China as part of the deal. Jack Ma of Alibaba is the one who forced Zhou out of Yahoo! China and Zhou vowed revenge on Yahoo! China since then.

It has definetely been an interesting week for Yahoo! Good luck to Yahoo! management for sorting through the Yahoo! China mess.