The platform currently responsible for claiming, editing, and maintaining local business listings on Yahoo is being spun off into its own independent company. Yahoo Small Business will soon become Luminate from Aabaco Small Business, LLC.
Why is Yahoo doing this? It appears to be a tax move. Yahoo wants to spin off its 15% stake in the Chinese company Alibaba (roughly $30 billion) without incurring a tax hit of approximately $9 billion. The local business service provided by Yahoo is set to serve as the mule for this transaction.
UPDATE: On Monday, 9/14 the IRS voiced concerns over deals such as this one. According to a report, IRS and U.S. Treasury Officials “are most concerned about transactions that result in the distributing corporation or the controlled corporation owning a substantial amount of cash, portfolio stock or securities, or other investment assets, in relation to the value of all of its assets and its qualifying business assets.”
SECOND UPDATE: On Thursday, 10/8 Yahoo emailed business owners with Yahoo Local Basic listings that their listings were being moved to Yext. There will be a new dashboard available in November. The “Luminate from Aabaco” deal appears to be off. Early indications are that a new account with Yext will be required to continue managing your Yahoo Local Basic listings. Whether it will be “pay-to-play” or if the listings can still be managed for free remains to be seen.
The deal may not be as imminent as we once thought. The initial target date of “Q4 2015” may very well be pushed back, if the deal ends up happening at all.
If the spinoff is completed, Aabaco Holdings, Inc. will become the parent company in control of the Luminate service. Not much is known about the new platform. At least in the beginning, Luminate users will still need a Yahoo account.
What does this mean to orthodontists and other local business owners? At this time, it means that we need to plan on surveying and monitoring listings on Yahoo Local as 2015 draws to a close. The local area on Yahoo search results figures to get a big makeover.
There are always bugs to fix during a data transfer of this magnitude. After the changeover occurs, some listings may need to be re-verified. Some listings may need to be added again. We can only hope that Luminate users will have the ability to delete erroneous or duplicate listings.
Yahoo has never offered the option to delete a listing from their database; they claim that the only way to remove a listing from Yahoo Local is to eradicate the data from the source from which they (Yahoo) initially pulled it…but Yahoo doesn’t disclose the origins of their business listings.
Sound like a wild goose chase? In actuality, chasing a wild goose is much easier than getting a business listing deleted from Yahoo. (I surmise this from having encountered geese near water hazards on golf courses — they are not timid animals — and usually the geese do the chasing.)
On the surface, this move to Luminate figures to sharpen the focus on small businesses. Whether that focus is actually to help small businesses, and improve the accuracy and user experience of Yahoo Local, or simply to shift a corporate pawn for capital gains and avoid a hefty tax hit, remains to be seen.
The current target date for rolling out the new Luminate service is the fourth quarter of 2015, which would suggest October at the earliest. It is not clear at this time whether any action will be required of business owners to move their Yahoo listings into the Luminate platform. It seems reasonable to think the transfer would happen automatically.
Yahoo has been sending out emails to small business owners with verified listings, informing them of the pending change. We will remain vigilant on this matter and update our blog with any new pertinent information as it becomes available.
Image credit to ecommercebytes.com