Yahoo's biggest problem is the creamy middle layer of managers. They are usually lifers (as in, been at Yahoo for a decade), or fresh MBAs with a Stanford degree who think that just because they sat through Management-101, they know how products should be designed.
This middle layer is like a Turkish harem. They're busy backstabbing each other, politicking and fucking things up. BUT NO ONE HOLDS THEM ACCOUNTABLE! Some dick will screw up a project, and then when the team gets laid off, happily move to another one to fuck that up too. Too often I've seen engineers just get disgusted and leave; or they'll go into a depressive "I don't care" mode. Passive-aggressive behavior is the norm.
Blake, when he joined, said that "we say 'no' to nothing, and 'no' to everything". What he meant was: in a meeting, the manager will say 'yes' to everything; but the moment he steps outside, he'll think "I'm not gonna do that!".
Innovation is also hampered by these middle morons. Someone tries to do something innovative, and a middle cockroach will crawl out, whining that his 'team' is working on it, and they'll have something ready in (some future quarter). So you're told to back off. Then you wait. In the meantime, that middle manager will use this opportunity to ask for more reqs and expand his little fiefdom. Time will pass, and nothing will get done. And you'll be waiting, agonizing, watching competitors eat Yahoo's lunch as this middle manager fucks around.
And then there will be cycles of outsourcing to Bangalore and Beijing. Some middle beancounter decided that 3 engineers in India can be hired for 1 engineer in the US. (Never mind the quality of people; it's just the 3:1 ratio that matters). So now they're busy outsourcing to Bangalore. Even critical support tasks are outsourced to Bangalore. So what used to take a couple of back-and-forth emails and get fixed in an hour, now takes 3-4 days.
The list of Yahoo's problems are long; and C-level people are not high on that list. "Vision" is also not a problem for Yahoo, if they'd just let the engineers just do their fucking jobs!
Carol's biggest mistake was pissing Jack Ma off and losing Alipay. A person at that level should never, ever, make such a blunder; and she had to go.
Why do Americans assume all Chinese and Indians are fools? Aren't you people shooting yourself in the foot by assuming your competition is weak? Outsourcing works for a lot more factors than mere money. But money is a major factor.
Here in India, we have usual set of good and bad engineers like everywhere. There a lot of very good talented and hardworking folks here, sure they don't come cheap. But they come cheaper than what a similar guy in the US would cost. I have myself seen a lot of quality work getting delivered at almost 1/10th the cost it would have taken in the US.
The US taught us ideals of capitalism, didn't you guys want the world to follow your way of life. Now when we actually do, you guys frown.. withdraw turn your back on the same principles you have taught us for nearly half a century now.
You have nothing to fear from the bad engineers here, trust me they are loosing out very quickly. What you must fear is good hardworking folks coming at cheap prices. That will be a big problem, because when some one sees quality coming for cheap they will go for it.
Also, Indian is a huge buyer of military equipment from the US. We spend billions buying stuff from you. But we never complain that those jobs are being outsourced to America. In fact we love America for the help they offer us.
We live in a globalized world, this is how its going to be in the future.
I feel that outsourcing should be done where it makes most sense. For example: if there's any work that needs to be done for the Indian (or South Asian) market, then by all means it makes sense to do it in Bangalore! Or if we have a team of engineers in Bangalore that are rockstars in Android development, then give them Android work!
Basically: outsource work to Bangalore if you know that it's the best place to do the work; not just because they're cheaper! I feel that Yahoo has been doing the latter.
often companies rather hire 3 'available ones' instead of paying 3x for a good one that would add immeasurably more value over the other 3 combined.
I don't mean to say India doesn't make sense, and I employ about 225 folks in Chennai right now, but it is apples to oranges and decision makers do not often have the right data to make informed choices over where to hire. As an example of something completely removed from quality of personnel, the time difference can wreak havoc on its own, especially when the stakeholders and developers are in different hemispheres. This holds not just for the development process but also in post-deployment support. It naturally (and unfortunately) leads to situations where the one or two engineers in the same general location as the stakeholders end up usurping the responsibility from the remote staff just out of convenient and self-consciousness of the 1-2 day lag they've been burned by over and over again. I could write a book on this subject (I've gone from being an individual contributor developer to a senior director reporting to the CIO over the last 7yrs and have seen nearly everything), but let's not belabor it. The executive summary is that offshoring is hard and too many managers only look at it from a direct labor cost perspective, which is folly.
Yes, we live in a globalized world and it will only continue to shrink. At the point where everyone has a phone or tablet with wireless unfiltered gigabit internet everywhere they need it, we'll be in good shape.
In fact most of the work coming to India is somewhat in an area where you are required to maintain and keep systems up and running. In other words a few feature additions but a lot of maintenance and bug requests.
A lot of work is also on the lines package management, something like working on SAP, or IT support or even testing projects.
I would like to know if majority of the developers in west would be happy doing those jobs. Because such jobs don't have a good career growth path. And price at which they do that here, is just unimaginable in US, I know.
However if we assume that a similar percentage of people will be interested in computers no matter where they reside then there should be more than enough quality Indian and Chinese devs lurking somewhere. Perhaps they are more easily lost in the bigger sea of devs, but similarly they should also shine and stand out that much more as well. Could it be that those hunting for the lowest price keep stumbling on the less qualified devs and then perpetuate the myth that devs in India or China are all lousy?
(edit: I'm unsure if there actually is a higher average quality of developer in North America, it may just be a perceived difference. Raise your hand if you live in North America and have met at least one "developer" who you cannot believe is actually employed as one.)
After the FDI boom, the IT sector here exploded. People from middle class background became millionaires in no time. In fact that's how Indian IT got a fat inefficient layer of management throughout the country. Very soon there was an impression that you have to get into software to earn that high. So the mad rush to get into software started.
This is where the quality dilution occurred. A lot of clueless people got promoted to be managers. Because technology was not considered a good career growth path. Also there is a mad rush here to visit some foreign country. These are generally called 'onsite' opportunities. Trust me, you have no clue what sort of politics runs across to get those opportunities. You have a lot of good developers but they never get their due. Neither rewarded nor appreciated properly.
Good developers don't sort of get the stuff they deserve here. But projects generally run on work by 'task masters'. In a typical team you will have few little really good folks and a little average folks the remaining hardly do their job. In fact when we talk of good devs that's the kind of folks that we are talking about here. But they are available in pretty good numbers.
Coming to manufacturing, IT support. That's really more of process and procedure based. So I won't comment on that, may be that's a difficult area to compete with. Because there you have very little intelligent things to do.
We too had a "gold rush" period in the dot.com boom and even before that most people who call themselves programmer couldn't program (e.g. write code/solve a problem on a dry erase board). Far too much of our software development management is clueless (Dilbert is Revealed Truth and it was well established long before outsourcing became big), software development/programming itself is generally not well respected, etc. etc. etc.
The current US perspective on Indians is biased by the purely cost driven outsourcing craze, which made all of the above worse by the universal service business model race to the bottom, time zone and cultural differences (the latter is something that good management could help) etc.
We don't hate Indians per se (as mentioned, I've worked with some ones in the US every bit as good as any native born developer, even helped to provide one with a horse for his downtown Washington, D.C. wedding :-), we hate the system that's developed that results in our having to deal with very long turn around times for critical stuff, that all too often delivers us code that takes as long or longer to debug or re-write than it would have taken us do correctly in the first place, the constriction of entry level job opportunities and thus the long term career pipeline, how all this has aided the terrible age discrimination in our field, etc.
And certainly many of us "hate" the H1-B etc. visa systems that were established pretty much explicitly to drive down US salaries and replace US workers with cheaper foreigners. If you're like me and have been replaced at some point by an H1-B visa holder (a brilliant Jamaican who was very good at the job and who was not happy about how the company was exploiting him (he was making 60% of what I was making)) that hate of the system is also based on hard, cold reality.
I know of at least one "dynamite" programmer whom Yahoo! India rejected because the guy didn't have a graduate degree. As usual, he was too busy coding to go get a degree. Well guess what, it's been pretty interesting working with him.
There are also cultural differences that need to be thought about before sending across a stack of work for them to do. Also you can imagine if the employees in the US working in the same offices as managers had a hard time getting things done the outsourced employees would have an almost impossible time getting approval to change things.
But on a grand scheme of things when you interact with each other for something like 2-3 years. Those differences are negligible. When I started out, I faced similar problems. But I became friends with a lot of Americans, after our daily interactions.
You do get to hear about projects that fail. But they are small in number. There are so many successful projects here that running for more 5 years and some time even decades. To blanket say that you are never going to get good quality from there, is just not right.
This is a touchy issue, I understand as people are loosing jobs. I would be equally emotional if I lost my job. But self reflection is also important at the same time.
Why are you jumping to that conclusion? All I read was how fucked up the management structure was and how Yahoo managed to consistently hire bad managers who hired bad engineers who drove projects into the ground. It just happened that they found a lot of bad engineers in India. (And you admitted yourself that there are plenty of bad engineers in India, just like everywhere else).
> The US taught us ideals of capitalism
"Do as I do not as I say" is perhaps the new motto. What we teach is propaganda. That is for bed-time stories for kids, not for the real world. If you look at how external trade, tariffs, protectionism, subsidies for our various industries work, you'll quickly understand that it is most definitely not a 'free' and 'open' market. When we say 'free' trade and 'globalization' we actually mean 'you open your markets so we can flood it with our companies' goods'.
> I am from Bangalore, And I seriously don't understand this Bangalore and Beijing hate.
Again, why do you say there is Bangalore hate? There is hate at bad management decisions. Apparently Yahoo has managed to consistently hit the majority of bad engineers and an ex-employee was watching his company's projects go to shit because of it. Dunno, seems like a valid thing to hate...
> What you must fear is good hardworking folks coming at cheap prices.
Hardworking is not good enough. Compensating by lack of knowledge by doubling the effort, and writing, 10x as many lines of code, is the wrong way to do it. It is a sure way to fail. In a more sarcastic way it would mean "When unsure how to proceed, just keep churning large piles of code!"
Programming is not picking potatoes. You cannot substitute 1 good programmer with 10 average ones. It just doesn't work that way. When you pick potatoes, you can say, if I hire 10 pickers and they pick x potatoes per hour then I'll get these many potatoes -- awesome. Programming is like composing music -- a hundreds average composer monkeys won't be able to compose a piece that one good composer can. It just doesn't work that way. It is inherently a creative process.
> In fact we love America for the help they offer us.
Sorry to disappoint, I seriously doubt genuine altruistic motivations are the cause of this "help". India might perceive it as such, but I seriously doubt that's how American (or any) external policy works.
I don't begrudge them working in their daytime either. Why should an engineer have to work through the night. I just think it exposes a problem with outsourcing work.
To prove my point. Let's look at the topcoder country rankings [At HN, perhaps I don't need to explain what topcoder is. But if I need to then in one word. Its a place where you practice Dynamic programming :-) ]:
No. of red programmers in India are just 3: http://community.topcoder.com/tc?module=AlgoRank&cc=356
Now just compare it to China:
The volume of engineers thing caters to service industry very well. And the service industry mainly thrives for one reason alone. Don't listen to all the jargon all the titans of industry say. The reason is only one:
And that is:
1$ = 45 Rupees.
Service Industry is good in a way that it helps people have financial independence in a matter of 2 or 3 years. But some how, it has stayed there. Is there an Infosys like product company in India?
So there is clear lack of vision amongst the leaders in Indian IT industry. In other words very few high quality leaders. And all seem to be quite happy with the success they have achieved and now out to serve the nation. ... I hope I get proven wrong and in a decade we have Infosys quality product companies in India.
So although xyahoo is gracious enough to apologize. In practice it may be the case, that some exceptions apart, you will get low quality engineers over here.
I think, its the culture, which has been the issue.
It can be fixed but few things need to be done:
1) People have to stop using IITs and IIMs in the same sentence.
2) B Techs at IITs should want to continue with Masters at IITs, and not apply to US univs
3) More entrepreneurs have to stop cashing out midway (I often wonder, could bazee.com have been India's alibaba?)
4) The entrepreneurs have to move from a trader mindset to a creator mindset
5) More creators have to do their own startup than just feel pride in working for Google/Yahoo/Amazon
6) The VCs (in general) need to speak like tech-educated persons. Not act like fools who would rather invest in Real estate (one needs to control their urge to spill coffee on their suits)
PS: I noticed that I went on a tangential rant ... completely off topic. But I speak almost all of the above from experience.
EDIT: Added some spacing to make the points readable.
A couple of honest questions. Do you work for Infosys? What exactly do you mean by Infosys quality?
About the 'low quality engineers over here' part, it's a topic already beaten to death. And you are true about the exchange rate part. In the end, with bean counters in control, that's what governs everything.
I mean that for the IT services Industry in India, Infosys has set a benchmark - Most respected company; Billions of dollars in revenue;great set of leaders who started it. So I meant that in the product space also, there should be Infosys quality companies in India. Or the Googles, Amazons, Yahoos of India, if you will.
I hope people with the spirit of an NRN Murthy, will start lots of product companies over here.
There is a big difference between leadership and management. Leadership is about taking risks, while management is about mitigating them. They are thus often in direct tension.
Yahoo had a lot of management and not much leadership.
I certainly don't think the concept of losing scope over the course of an enterprise software license or a project's life cycle is unique to Yahoo, but these corporate inefficiencies have been a serious eye-opener.
I've got to disagree with this. No one inside or outside of Yahoo seems to be able to concisely state what Yahoo does. There are dozens of properties and various initiatives, but no real statement of purpose. There's too much confusion about direction, about what Yahoo's goals are, or should be. I don't think the internal guidance is clear enough, either.
I think this is a distinct C-level problem. And if managers aren't being held accountable, that a C-level problem, too.
Managers typically do whatever gets them the best ratings. The C-level execs must be giving them misaligned incentives.
I'm not saying there's not great people who work in management, but once the environment starts getting toxic (due to bad managers getting all the resources, or even being promoted to the point where they are managing the good managers), the good managers will turn bad or flee.
The C-levels are content with directors who "manage up" instead of looking past them to see what's really happening on the ground.
Of course, there was also a serious lack of vision and real leadership at the top as well, but that wouldn't matter with all the middle managers getting in the way.
But everyone still needs to row in one direction.
What about this for a unifying vision? Help users discover, personalize, and consume content.
Be the service -- mobile or web -- people turn to when they have nothing to do, when they want to find a cool article, deal, song, video, picture, restaurant, conversation, or event.
Today, Google is where you go when you know what you want. Yahoo! could help people upstream of search -- before people know what they want. Which, conveniently, is most of the time.
Lots of companies tackle the problem in different areas: Digg with news, Pandora with music, Yelp with local businesses, Instagram with photos, Groupon with deals.
With content proliferating faster than ever before, there is a need for some service to help people discover and consume content. Users don't want to hunt for content. They want the coolest deals, music, shows, restaurants, and news to come to them.
Qs: What if you killed 90% of the middle management layer? Are the engineers motivated and talented enough to pick up the slack? Killing one layer would produce insane chaos and devastate Yahoo! in the short term, but could the freedom and responsibility drive engineers to care again? If not, what would?
This might be a middle management problem, I can't be sure. I don't think most people at yahoo can be sure.
When I think of that quote, I usually think about it in regards to wanting to escape a big stupid company and form a startup, but that was not at all the context in which Jobs said it. He was telling this to the Mac team, which had become a kind of splinter group with its own identity within Apple. Of course, it's not just better to be a pirate yourself, sometimes the empire needs to hire some pirates. The navy can't be seen robbing Spanish ships after all (or devoting lots of money to zany projects like a graphical user interface on a personal computer).
I wonder if big dumb companies like Yahoo could actually use the pirate mentality/method to their benefit. Why doesn't Yahoo take a few million dollars in seed money and start a bunch of companies under its own umbrella using some of its own people? Give all the power to the engineers and the designers, skip the MBA-wielding drones that you've described above and let people that can actually make stuff set sail. Would it still fail? If any of the ideas did thrive, would the companies just be smothered when incorporated back into Yahoo? Would anyone even notice that a couple of million dollars went to creating several radical new projects?
They did, it was called Yahoo Brickhouse. Yahoo closed it in 2008. I'd love to know more about what did and didn't work there
It's at the end, I believe he was the last speaker...
It's doubtful that a Steve Jobs could come back to Yahoo and get it back in touch with its roots. IMHO, their best bet is to sell.
I used Yahoo and understood what it did for me. In 1997.
Then Google came, and my ass was a portal, and Yahoo's homepage (on the rare occasion I looked at it) was crap.
Then there were Yahoo magazines and mass-media advertising -- we're talking 1999/2000 here. The company already didn't make sense to me then.
I remember ~2009 when AOL were being accused of copying Yahoo's homepage, and thinking "gee ... I've never been on either". Both were crap.
For a while Yahoo's Finance pages were decent (Jeremy Zawodny knows his shit), but even that's passe.
At best they're sort of a Computer Associates of Web 1.0. Where mediocre technology goes to die.
The Bartz era was at least an entertaining train wreck to watch.
Having said all that, thanks for buying Viaweb off PG guys. At least some Yahoo cash went to good use...
I wouldn't call Yahoo by far the best and most delicious of the online titans.
Yahoo turned to face the siren song of advertising and eyeball aggregation, damn the user, by the end of the 1990s. Sure, some of their products may have shone (I was well off and away from their target userbase by that time) but as Diego said, the corporate DNA of organizing the Web, was lost.
Imagine if they had a great news reading and exploring service integrated in a smart way with a reading list/book marking service - like del.icio.us? (ouch...) They have had great technology.
I think it's really a people problem. Once the wrong people are in charge they keep replicating and it's very difficult to turn it around.
The only way would be for a buyer to come in, fire everyone who has ever made a product decision at Yahoo and replace them with a much smaller group of people who have a track record of creating successful products and who have no previous relation to Yahoo or the media industry.
Even in the early days their search index was run by a third party (OpenText, then AltaVista, then Inktomi, then Google, now Bing) and most of their major properties like Yahoo Mail and Store were acquisitions like Four11 Rocketmail and Viaweb.
Just seems like Yahoo has been a long series of acquisitions.
It's been described as listless and without vision or a clear direction for several years now. Particularly with more macro economic trends, now is a good time for CEOs and business owners to re-engage themselves and their teams with the original vision or intent of their business, to help confirm a new vision moving forward.
I've just never felt that Yahoo! had that baton handed to them by the original founders (I even had to search for their names - Jerry Yang and David Filo). Plenty of companies grow to enormous success without the founder having to drive it, of course, but there's usually some connection that links the CEO to the company's founding principles. Yang is still on the Board I believe - can anyone point me to where his thoughts on the direction might have been shared?
BSing the troops:
Ballmer writing a polite letter killing the acquisition prospects:
"Hey guys, uh, Ballmer's very public proclamations notwithstanding, Microsoft didn't actually want to buy us:"
Right. Letting Microsoft acquire Yahoo was the best thing to do...
Because, like I said then, two bricks float better than one.
What Yahoo needs is a CEO with a clear vision and accountability at all levels. That's not what Microsoft is known for.
1. he sells for MS.
2. shareholders get some above average return in MS shares.
3. a bunch of companies buy some dismembered yahoo pieces like flickr, babelfish, etc
4. those companies pays more returns than microsoft in 5yrs.
6. everyone criticizes him for not being able to see ahead and costing the investors money in the long run.
...only icahn and pension funds wants companies sold to microsoft. I know I don't. Then you can argue that it's yahoo... so what, those people invested in yahoo. bet they feel the same as i feel for companies i'm investing.
Yahoo's issue is that they have no overall direction. They have some great assets in terms of employees as well as online properties. But what exactly does Yahoo do? They aren't a search engine. They aren't really a news site. They talk a lot about mobile, but don't seem to have a meaningful presence. They talk about local, but I'm not even sure what that means, and in any case they don't actually seem to be doing anything meaningful there. (You can't claim to be "local" and have such broken maps.) They seem mostly to be an advertising company, but they don't really identify as such.
They need to figure out what it is that they do, or at least what they want to do, and pursue that aggressively. Otherwise I fear they'll continue on their aimless path.
"Several Flickr internal attempts to build and ship native mobile experiences (going back to 2006) were squashed relentlessly."
I think says it best.
Google had the same problem, but they are now shedding this.
I was a huge fan of delicious pre-acquisition and wanted to meet with Joshua to see if there was any way to tie music and our artist sites in with the service. I e-mailed him I think to setup a meeting.
We show up and our meeting is in the very, very back of the office in a conference room. Josh is there as well as a guy is his boss and another guy.
We find out this is the first time Josh had ever met his boss (this is about four months post acquisition) and the other guy didn't know why he was there, but the meeting had showed up on his calendar.
It was singularly awkward.
I used Yahoo back when it was still on the stanford.edu servers and called "David and Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web"
I social engineered my way into the old wooden building when making a documentary on how people in the service sector were dealing with the "information super highway" in 1999 during a conference.
A lot of great people and great technology went into that company and came out of that company. I hope for at least legacies sake someone can figure out how to turn it around. The misguidedness is not new however, and I have lots and lots of stories from the last five years of dealing with them.
I remember that meeting! I think it was actually the latest in a series of bungee-bosses.
The answer? Only 11% said they had confidence.
This is what our manager told us. She was so disgusted she didn't even share the summary that she was supposed to.
After that, they stopped the surveys. It's easier to kill the messenger, I guess.
If I was still working at Yahoo I would be stoked to have this guy as my boss.
I mean, do you really think the New York Times staff wants to work for Yahoo! News? Or that Jack Dorsey wants to work for Yahoo! Mobile?
Yahoo can't buy their way out of this mess, IMHO.
It is scary to see how these early winners in the online business have faltered. AOL, Yahoo, etc. Instead of fostering a culture of innovation, they've instead looked to cut innovation and attempt to use what remaining cash they have left to buy their way into businesses that they seem to always mismanage with "operations management". Take AOL and TechCrunch.
Google would foster a culture totally different from Yahoo's, and at the same time thrill the existing Yahoo employees - which means they would stick around. So much opportunity for both.
Microsoft is a great company, but their online businesses are losing money like crazy, and I suspect that many Yahooers would not be super excited about joining Microsoft.
I think Yahoo's properties (and users) might be a better fit with Facebook.
Not sure who would gain the most from those properties.
I'm curious, why do you think Yahoo's properties would be a better fit with Facebook?
Yahoo needs to hire a CEO focused on their core competency - Fantasy football.
In all honesty, Yahoo! does a lot of things right, I hope for the numerous DOers still left at Yahoo! that they hire someone with the vision and effectiveness to make something out of the once great service.
Yahoo! has to break out of the "portal" mindset of trying to be all things to all people. When portals were the all the rage in the late 90's, options were limited in the online services space -- which is clearly not the case anymore. What Yahoo! currently brings to the table is talent, experience, traffic and a loyal user base of it's core services (e.g. Mail, Messenger, Finance, Flickr, Stores, Fantasy Sports, etc.). They need to integrate these services better by focusing on one core demographic and offering a more cohesive experience.
The first step is to identify their core demographic and build around their needs. They should raise cash for acquisitions through the sale of existing properties that do not service their primary audience. The Yahoo! brand and user base is strong enough to make a comeback, they just have to look at their company from a slightly different perspective and play their best hand in the current market.
Jobs resigns, Arrington resigns, CmdrTaco resigns, Reddit is spun off, and now this. (did I mis one?)
Is there something about august/september? Is it just my personal filter?
If there is one good thing that could come out of this, it would be, if those awesome engineers were freed up to help create real value to our economies. I would hire an ex-yahoo engineer in a heartbeat.
It's sad that lack of vision and truly ingrained technical innovation prevented the company from truly realizing the advantages of being a first mover in the space but they sure had a nice run for what started as a collection of links.
Yahoo! can still be turned around but it will take something more than a cost-cutting and downsizing mentality to achieve that. Under a leader with vision with buy in from the various department heads combined with the current traffic base of Yahoo as a launchpad would still be a force to be reckoned with.
Just recovering from the Bartz years will take a while, lots of talent has been discarded or they've left seeing the writing on the wall. Before Yahoo will manage to undo that damage there is a lot of work that needs doing.
If Yahoo! is a media company -- which is more conservative since its peers would be AOL, Viacom, et al., and not Google, Facebook, et al. -- then merge/acquire Netflix ($11.5B market cap) and anoint Reed Hastings CEO. Let him navigate Nethoo through the transition to new media. Combining distribution and content failed for AOL-TW, but with the media industry in flux and with more content surfacing from the grassroots, perhaps now is the time for vertical integration.
If technology, then Yahoo! needs a new culture and a bold vision to attract the most talented engineers. No ambitious engineer wants to slave under PMs when they could flourish in engineering-oriented companies like Google and Facebook.
Yahoo!'s mission? Help users discover, personalize, and consume content.
Analyzing the web for the most relevant content -- no matter the type -- at a personalized level is non-trivial. Because it's a daunting technical problem, it will attract smart engineers.
Despite the naysayers, Yahoo! occupies an enviable position with massive assets: hundreds of millions of users, deep advertiser relationships, and an iconic brand. The question is how to organize these assets into a sustainable and promising company.
Yahoo! has the cash flow to acquire some pieces, perhaps go private, and execute against some vision.
There is an opportunity to once again innovate with compelling technology and recruit talented engineers. There is an opportunity to help users navigate the explosion of online content in a smarter, more natural way. There is an opportunity for Yahoo! to reassert itself as one of the premier companies in Silicon Valley, one led by pioneering technology.
A social graph that's not a walled garden.
Want to add Facebook stuff to your page? Sign the Facebook ToS, lube up, and get ready to get shafted. Want Google+ interaction? Same deal.
Facebook (and to a lessor extent, G+) don't want you to run apps that involve them. They want you to create content for users to "like".
Yahoo could create a great identity system - multiple identities (so you don't need to use your real name for everything), notifications (replacing email for web apps), payments, micropayments, advertising, the works.
Want to make a web app? Check out (the fictional) Yahoo.js, and the (fictional) native client for your server (or just make it all run on JSON as a fallback).
It could work like that. They just need to ask a bunch of people making new web apps what the pain points are, solve them, then use that to push people to a Yahoo Notifications page, and from there to Yahoo's other properties.
IMO any Yahoo CEO who can't fix their flagship webmail within a year should be shown the door. Of course fixing webmail means fixing middle management, and that's a rather more difficult problem.
It was clear that board wasn't willing to wait to find out. Which ever direction they go with a new CEO, here's hoping for an actual plan.
What highlights in Yahoo's history does this cover?
I'll be buying Yahoo! stock in the morning.
I don't build to flip, so seeing what they did with Flickr, Delicious and dozens of other projects (internal ones, too: SimpleGeo is proof that FireEagle should have gotten a major push out of the gate) makes me feel a little bit like Joss Whedon contemplating doing another show with FOX.
Does anyone have any compelling counter-arguments, or believe things will ever get better? Is Yahoo in AOL/NAMBLA territory at this point?