A Few Thoughts on Yahoo

A couple of weeks ago the Yahoo’s Board of Directors fired CEO Carol Bartz after roughly 33 months on the job.  I can’t say I was surprised.  Yahoo has been a rudderless ship for a long time.  Now it being reported that Yahoo’s Board may be putting the company up for sale.

I thought now might be a decent time to take a look at how Yahoo got this way.  Founded by Jerry Yang and David Filo in 1994, Yahoo was one of the earliest and most successful of the pre-Google search engines.  However somewhere along the way Yahoo lost its vision and sight of the future.  It used to be that Yahoo was an innovative company that was leading the search engine industry and rolling out innovative  and new products and features; it’s email and messaging applications were industry leaders.  It was also a leader in content;  Yahoo Finance, My Yahoo pages, News, Yahoo Answers, and other areas.  But somewhere along the way, Yahoo started driving its customers away.

For me it came when Yahoo started trying to replace the advertising on the pages its search pulled up.  Not that I really cared who was getting paid for the advertisement being displayed.  What became a problem and why I started using Google, it wasn’t because Google had better search back then, it was because the pages Yahoo displayed would not be the web site of the company I was looking for, it would be some rendered version of that company’s website that had a URL that went something like http://www.rds.yahoo……….. (For More Info See:  http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20061222070340AA4rdiM)  At that point I couldn’t easily bookmark my search results or send them in an email.  So I switched to Google and never really went back.

Don’t get me wrong,  I still think Yahoo has some great content, but it is no longer search.  They have been slow to adapt to advancements in the internet, search, social media, rss feeds, mobility, and every other development over the course of the last 10 years.  Not only that, they have neglected their properties.

Worse yet, they became complacent.  They were willing to settle for Google leading in search,  willing to outsource their search results to Microsoft.  They stopped innovation, and didn’t even become bother to follow the leaders.

Maybe they believed all the talk from 10 years ago (give or take a few years) about Yahoo being the next generation media company. Who knows,  perhaps even they themselves don’t even know.  I doubt they do.  What ever it is that they have been doing,  it hasn’t been taking care of Yahoo’s business.  It appears that long ago,  Yahoo’s Board of Directors forgot its responsibility to its shareholders.

Maybe it’s best that they are considering putting the company up for sale.  I would not be surprised if they sold the company.  However, if they really are considering putting the company up for sale,  then maybe they have realized that they are not best people to oversee the company, and the best thing for the company is that the Board of Directors is gone!

If the company is sold, or who ever is chosen to run the company; I hope they competitive and driven to make Yahoo again an industry leader, driven to challenge Google.  After all, competition is the best thing for the consumer.

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