A former Yahoo employee, who preferred to remain anonymous, revealed to StopPress this morning that all remaining editorial staff at the New Zealand office of the internet company have been let go.
The source estimated that four or five staff members recently departed the organisation after completing their notice period.
Asked about the departures, a Yahoo spokesperson confirmed that structural changes had occurred at the company but would not go into specifics about the redundancies.
“Like any business, we regularly review our operations to ensure we remain agile and responsive to changing market conditions,” the spokesperson said in an email.
“As a result of our most recent review, we made a number of structural changes. Our sales offering was rebranded as Yahoo Platforms and focuses on native and programmatic advertising solutions in New Zealand. The Yahoo New Zealand homepage will now be populated with the best news, sport, finance, weather, entertainment and lifestyle stories created by Yahoo publishing properties and content partners from around the world.”
As part of the restructure, Yahoo has also pulled its New Zealand Facebook audience into its Australian Yahoo 7 Facebook page.
This means that local subscribers will from now only be fed news served onto the Australian site rather than stories curated specifically for New Zealand readers.
This move finalises the steady decline of Yahoo’s editorial function over the last few years.
In 2015, Yahoo restructured its editorial team to create five roles in lieu of the ten that existed until then.
The source says there has been a steady decline in editorial staff since around 2013 when the company commanded a substantial digital media team.
“It’s a sad and quiet end to a company which once had 50 staff and was getting similar web visitors every month than Stuff and NZ Herald”, the source says.
The remaining Yahoo staff is still located in the same building, and it's unclear at this stage whether they will be moving to new premises (Yahoo would not comment when questioned on this matter).
The source says that Yahoo’s strongest period in the local market occurred before the big media companies, Fairfax and NZME, really started focusing on digital media.
“It took them a while to turn their ships toward digital,” the source says.
But once they did, it became increasingly difficult for Yahoo to compete with these well-oiled news organisations.
By 2013, the source says, it was clear that Yahoo would have to start shifting its focus elsewhere.
The latest string of redundancies completes Yahoo’s move away from providing editorial services in New Zealand and leaves the local office with only a handful of sales people (three or four), focusing on selling Yahoo Platforms technology to media partners.
Late last year the company provided a strong indication of its new direction, rebranding the local business from Yahoo New Zealand to Yahoo Platforms, focusing on the sale of native advertising and programmatic services.
At the time of the rebrand, Yahoo Platforms head of sales Arnaud Calonne said: “The market needs to know that Yahoo Platform is a key player in the NZ technology ecosystem.” (Calonne chose not to comment for this story).
With this change, Yahoo no longer sees the likes of NZME and Fairfax as competitors but rather as potential tech partners.
This news coincides with the NZ Herald’s report yesterday that Yahoo would be bowing out as a public company, largely due to the expectation that Verizon will complete its US$4.5 billion acquisition of the company.
Unless the deal falls through, the financial results released on Friday will mark the final quarterly report released by Yahoo in its 21-year history as a publicly traded company.