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A (Cautionary) Tale of Two Companies: Yahoo and Intel

'Innovation' street sign, Silicon Valley, California, USAPhotograph by Bruce T. Brown—Getty Images

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It wasn’t a pretty day in Silicon Valley. Sure, the sun was shining and temperatures reached a balmy 80 degrees. But inside at least a couple of once-storied Valley companies, Tuesday was downright gloomy.

In case you’re not an avid fan of earnings calls—my colleague Erin Griffith refers to them as “accounting concerts;” I prefer “scripted torture”—here’s the deal: Both Yahoo (YHOO) and Intel (INTC) reported their latest quarterly earnings on Tuesday. And, as expected, neither company’s numbers were particularly rosy.

Yahoo’s earnings and revenue actually came in slightly above analysts’ estimates, but those expectations have gotten pretty low. Revenue was $1.09 billion for the most recent quarter, down 11% from the year before, and the company posted a net loss of $99 million. Beleaguered CEO Marisa Mayer spent much of the company’s earnings call convincing everyone that she is taking Yahoo’s sale process seriously. “Let me be unequivocal: Our board, our management team and I have made the strategic alternative process a top priority,” she said.

Semiconductor maker Intel, meanwhile, unveiled its own “strategic alterative process,” otherwise known as layoffs. The company announced that it will slash 12,000 jobs, or about 11% of its workforce. In other stock-depressing news, Intel also reported lower-than-expected first-quarter revenue, coming in at $13.7 billion, and lower-than-expected sales projections for the second quarter of this year. CEO Brian Krzanich said Intel is focusing on areas of future growth, but the company’s restructuring efforts have been touted for quite a few years now.

What do these formerly iconic companies have in common, other than their terrible, horrible, no good, very bad earnings day? Intel paved the way for the computing revolution, while Yahoo helped usher in the consumer Internet era. And yet both companies have struggled, in different ways, to adapt to the latest epoch: mobile. Now, they’re paying the ugly price.