What's Wrong With Yahoo?

16 thoughts on “What's Wrong With Yahoo?”

  1. First, I agree that Y! completely lost it’s way for a few years in between. One of the key reasons IMO is that the company was trying to position itself as a “media” company – but could not clearly articulate what on earth it meant to anybody – most of all the employess. When you don’t have clarity of purpose (or at least a general sense of “choerent” direction) – it’s a perfect opportunity for “rot” to set in – which sure did in the case of Y!. Add to this, there was absolutely no accountability from the higher ups (all the way to Mr. Semel) – and the organization just stalled.

    However, I would like to think the organization is actually much better focused now and has actually been taking various measures delibrately from the time Jerry took over. If you look back – he/they laid out the “big bets” first and from that time each re-org / change has actually been something that moved the organization towards that direction. Granted, the Microsoft episode did shake up the organization (as admitted by Mr. CEO himself) – but I believe the organization started course correcting even before that.

    In general there is enough blame to go around and as you rightly pointed out a good chunk of that clearly rests on some of the executives who recently deparated. I mean these guys have been at the helm and delivered NOTHING (apart from consistently losing market share in search, let key properties like Groups rot, kept talking about “social search” and did nothing…). I mean, one can go on and on.

    I actually think the new org *MIGHT* greatly benefit the company by pulling in all audience products under the same umbrealla. I have heard of horror stories of how these various groups never spoke with each other and each of them were outcompeting the other groups instead of the “real competition” (Remember reading somehwere recently that this is very much prevalant in Google but thanks to the Adwords cash cow, nobody cares – at least not yet).

    Anyway – I truly hope that Y! has it’s purpose clear and more importantly that they don’t keep finding “new purpose” but instead execute towards the one they laid out. With some of the moves they have been making in the last few months – I think they are on the right track.

    Would definitely like your thoughts on this, Om.

  2. Thanks for writing this. I’ve been waiting for someone to start examining some of the deeper questions about what’s happened to Yahoo over the years. Mark’s made a great point about clarity of purpose. This is something that’s plagued Yahoo for a long time now. As a former employee and now watcher from the sidelines, I’ve got a bunch of other thoughts and am trying to put them together in a few blog posts to turn some attention to things beyond the more widespread Yahoo bashing over MSFT and recent exec departures.

  3. Really nice post, Om.

    I agree that the culture is the problem. For years they have turned out client software so bad that you had to wonder if anyone there had any pride at all. The site was better, at least until the new MyYahoo!, but drifting nonetheless. So the departure of so many senior people must be a generally good thing for the company’s prospects.

    Mark seems to have a clearer picture of the place than I do, but it is hard to be believe that Yahoo! will recover before Decker is gone, no matter how smart she may be.

  4. This reminds me of an axiom that a friend once shared. When companies get to this sick state, they keep removing little cancers (or the tumors leave the body of their own will), thinking that one more cut and the body is clean only to realize that the body is creating new tumors every day.

    You can’t save the body until you fix the culture, and you can’t fix the culture until you coalesce around one message and one mission of what Yahoo is. In plain simple, English-speak.

    For all of their assets, for all of their users, for the great many services that they offer, I have no sense what Yahoo IS anymore.

    By contrast, Google organizes the worlds information, largely through automated systems that are simple and user-friendly. Everything they do, even when they fail, seems to fit within this gestalt.

    Apple builds the best, most integrated device, media and service experience by delivering the full enchilada. They think different than everyone else in the industry and wear it as a badge of honor.

    Can anyone tell me what Yahoo IS?

    Cheers,

    Mark

  5. Perhaps just a small sign of what they think / don’t think about their loyal customers.

    I have hosted some domains at Yahoo for several years starting from the days when their email and other services were great.

    I just received a domain notice renewal with the associated bill. I could not believe it. They have increased my current domain (dot com) price from $9.95 to $34.95!

    All attempts to communicate with Yahoo about this huge in your face increase have failed and they have not responded to any of my emails.

    Business starts and ends with the consumer. So Yahoo you have not only lost me as a customer but I am beginning to hate you.

  6. Great post Om!
    Yahoo has definitely lost it’s way. They saw themselves as the starting point on the web with their portal strategy, but consumers moved away from portals as the starting point on the web and moved to Search as their starting point. And Yahoo is definitely losing ground to Google at Search.

    I think Yahoo should open up their crawl & index and become a platform where developers and startups can build new search based applications. Sort of like how Facebook became a platform to build social applications. Yahoo could turn around very quickly and build an ecosystem around it’s search platform. New search based applications could be built for a fraction of the cost, and all on Y! search.

    http://ihobbes.wordpress.com/2008/06/23/yahoo-open-up-your-search-index-to-gain-market-share/

  7. “I’ve been waiting for someone to start examining some of the deeper questions about what’s happened to Yahoo over the years.”

    Sorry Albert, but this is far from being explained.

  8. i probably wont get this email anyway because yahoo.com have crapped out and I am unable to access my mail. I have enjoyed your comments but cannot really comment on the symantics of yahoo and its organisation because I am a ‘newie’. I will from time to time visit this site because there are some knowledgeable people on site. Thank you for your entertainment! Siri.

  9. I’ve solved the problem using Yahoo pretty easily on my computer: I simply deleted THEM! I don’t have time in my daily life to wonder what the hell is going on with Yahoo anymore and have been pushed by Yahoo itself into simply not caring anymore.

    Who cares?

    There’s too many other avenues available to me now to sit and wait on these “Yahoo’s” to get their act together!
    And that statement they released? Corporate psychobabble. It meant absolutely NOTHING to me as a user of online services. UGH…..

    It’s sad, because I’ve had a Yahoo account for years now but like I said, in my daily living, I don’t have time to figure this company out FOR THEM when they should be helping me figure out how to do what I want to do FOR ME!

    R.I.P. Yahoo…..

  10. Om Malik’s prose unwittingly replicates the Yahoo problem. He tells us Yahoo has problems (wow!) that reflect on the organization (no kidding) and he tells us some names (who cares?) of people he suggests will issue more worthless words to cover in b.s. specifics he doesn’t detail. Based on my own present and recent experience, let me help: When you sit down to your screen and keyboard Yahoo! don’t work right. You want to send an e-mail and get some cockamamie gray screen with all sorts of nonsense instead of what you’re used to, then you know what? It ain’t working right. Up pops an overline that says you may be having problems with something you never heard of, but click here. Nothing happens. You know what? The damn thing isn’t working! I wish I knew why (I’ve had gurus in), but it doesn’t matter how many meetings you have or bells and whistles you tack on if your basic product don’t work. I wish someone would offer some suggestions. The one useful thing in all that I’ve reading in this string is, go to Google. #

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