在雅虎帝国之中，仍有几处闪耀着这个老品牌过去的光辉，比如人们最常提到的雅虎体育、新闻和金融。近年来这些领域也涌现出不少创新的应用程序和网站。比如时下正热的科技博客The Verge的母公司Vox Media，以及拥有321个体育博客的SB Nation，他们都是值得收购的公司，虽然不免要花一大笔钱，但是一定对得起那个价格。另外像Flipboard和基于Twitter的News.me这样的应用服务也可以让雅虎在方兴未艾的网络新闻递送领域稳据一席之地。
But Yahoo should also use whatever leverage it has to insist on some cross-ownership of shares in both Alibaba and Yahoo Japan, cementing already long-standing relationships that could help it establish a presence in two of Asia's largest web markets.
Third Point's vague bullet points notwithstanding, the firm wouldn't be worthy of being called an activist investor if it didn't immediately insist on returning much, if not all, of that lucre into a shareholder payout. But here's where Yahoo's old-school board has a chance to develop a spine: Put most of that money not into shareholder pockets, but into rebuilding Yahoo.
Several pieces of Yahoo's empire still emit some of the shine of its old brand -- sports, news and finance are ones most frequently mentioned. And there have emerged a number of apps and sites that are innovating in these areas. Vox Media, owner of rising-star The Verge and the 321 sports blogs on SB Nation, could be a big expense well worth the price. Apps like Flipboard and Twitter-based services like News.me would give Yahoo a strong foothold in the emerging world of news delivery.
There are other neighborhoods of the web that Yahoo could buy its way into if it would only open up its (potentially) fat wallet. Vimeo, for years YouTube's potentially talented little brother, could be snatched from IAC/Interactive (IACI) After all, Barry Diller loves nothing more than being involved in a good deal. A music-streaming service like Rhapsody, independent from its long-time parent RealNetworks (RNWK) since 2010, could be the music service Yahoo Music always wanted to be.
Finally, there are valuable assets hidden inside Yahoo's culture of suffocation. Flickr was once a brilliant acquisition that, despite Yahoo's intention to leave it to its own devices, was smothered in bureaucratic styrofoam. Why didn't Yahoo build its social strategy around Flickr, instead of swallowing it into its own ham-fisted social vision? And why did Yahoo never turn Flickr into an app with Instagram-like potential?
Ah well, we're here to look at Yahoo's potential future, not its past missteps. If Yahoo is going to buy up innovative startups to build its future on, it will have to let their ideas guide the company forward -- and not engulf them into a dying and stultifying culture that still believes it knows best. Because if anything is clear now, it's that Yahoo doesn't know what is best for itself. Facebook paid a steep price for Instagram to learn -- and follow -- what Instagram knew about the mobile web, not to suck its blood dry.
Finally, Yahoo's recovery is over if it keeps stooping to the vile level of the patent troll. It will drive away the engineers and independent developers vital to its future success. On the web, nothing taints a brand faster than suing a company that is smart enough to capitalize on ideas you had but didn't know what to do with. Don't sue them, work with them to learn from them.
So there's the road to a Yahoo recovery, as I see it: Sell the Asian assets; don't give the cash to shareholders but invest it, shrewdly, in smart startups; learn from those startups how to thrive on the web in 2012; and use patents as a defense, not an offense.
If Yahoo can do that, it only has a fighting chance - but perhaps its best fighting chance in five years. If it can't do that, then it's better off liquidating everything it's built for the past 18 years and handing the cash over to shareholders. It's your call, Yahoo.