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Ask HN: How would you save Yahoo and bring it back to top place ?
45 points by webrakadabra on Sept 7, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 48 comments
I loved Yahoo, it was like web equivalent of first crush back in High school. But Yahoo is dying albeit slowly. Compare this to Apple of mid 90's when it was almost dead. Now imagine you are The Steve Jobs and your task is to not only save Yahoo but bring it back to top place. How would you do it ? (Selling out is not an option, please!)

"Back in top place" of what?

Seriously, answering that question should probably be their number 1 priority. Right now they can't say that "What Yahoo! does is X," much less "Yahoo! is #1 at X," for any X. They need a direction. Answering that question won't solve all of their problems, not by a hell of a long shot, but anything that is effective at solving their problems will necessitate answering that question.

They've decided they're not a search engine. They still sort of seem to think they're a portal; I don't see a lot of people really caring about portals anymore, but maybe if they push hard they could bring that concept back. If they really wanted to be bold, they could try to crack the perennially difficult nut of monetizing quality content on the internet. If they could manage that, they could become the go-to content publisher on the web.

From what I understand of their corporate culture, they probably need a leader that can make changes there as well. They don't need to become Google or a "start-up culture," but they need more focus on product quality instead of the treadmill.

> Seriously, answering that question should probably be their number 1 priority.

Spot on. Focus on nothing else but this initially. Remember Carol Bartz's answer to "What is Yahoo?"?

    "What is Yahoo? Listen Yahoo is a great company that is very, very strong
     in content for its users, uses amazing technology to serve up what increasingly
     we think is going to be the web of one. For instance, on our today module in the 
     front page, every 5 minutes we have 32,000 different variations of that module. 
     So you don’t even know what I’m seeing in fact we serve a million different front 
     page modules a day and that’s just through content optimization. And that’s just 
     the beginning. Customized because we know the things you’re interested in. Maybe 
     you don’t like light entertainment maybe you like a certain sports team, etc. And 
     our click through rate went up twice. So the point is, people come to us to find 
     out what is going on with the world in a very nice quick fashion to do their 
     communications, email, messanger, check-in on their teens. We all know about 
     Yahoo finance. It’s a places where you can just get it together. It’s collated 
     for you, it’s all the things as you’re moving, you can even get your social 
     information there. Everybody moves through many websites in a day, Yahoo is one 
     they always stop at."

Link: http://techcrunch.com/2010/05/28/ok-seriously-what-is-yahoo/

I cringe when I read that.

At the same time I can't help but feel sorry for a company that once really was synonymous with 'the web' and nowadays has completely lost it's direction.

Yahoo's biggest "problem" is the huge revenue and profit it continues to make. Jobs had a big advantage when he came back to Apple -- it was losing $1B/year and was about to go broke. Everything needed to change. When you have a huge business to screw up, it isn't so easy to make a sweeping change that could disrupt the business model for years. At Yahoo you could probably cut back to 100 ops people and 200 sales people and rake in billions in revenue and profit for a decade or more. In fact, most Yahoo! die hard users would like the message "We are never going to change Yahoo! again. It will remain exactly like this from now on. No more redesigns. No new features. No changes of any kind. Your My Yahoo page is safe."

Yahoo's business is driven by the adoption of Yahoo! Mail. Most people that use it (it is the largest email provider in the US), don't realize they could put in mail.yahoo.com rather than yahoo.com so stop there on their way to their inbox. That is enough to power nearly every other media site they control to the #1 position with the right mix of articles on the home page.

I would turn Yahoo into the curators of the web once again.

(1) Create a group that better identifies and manages relevant and trustworthy information quickly for popular categories/topics.

(2) Create a group that finds and reports new/interesting websites.

(3) Make Yahoo Answers much better, or buy Quora.

(4) Create a massive user reviewed products database.

(5) Cut the clutter & trash off the webpages. Simplify!

Damn it! 8 minutes too late!

Nice try, new Yahoo CEO. ;)

All kidding aside, they need to focus on some core products to start stabilizing their presence again. Give Flickr good leadership. Make Delicious a priority product. Figure out if the search product is worth maintaining.

Above all, they need someone scrappy and clever to lead, not just contain the flailing of their tentacles.

Delicious can't be a priority project; they sold it off a few months ago to the YouTube guys.

Their search is outsourced now to Bing, as far as I know anyway, so they can't really build around outsourced search.

I am still reeling from this "strategy" - namely, WTF happened to all the infrastructure they previously had for search?

Where are the machines, the staff, the datacenters that were in place for this?

Yahoo Search has almost always been outsourced. Even in the early days their search index was run by a third party (OpenText, then AltaVista, then Inktomi, then Google, now Bing).

One of the first things Jobs did when he returned was streamline Apple's products. If you go to Yahoo.com now, you see about 12 things on the left-hand side that are essentially "WTF?"; things Yahoo shouldn't be doing (and that's before going to Everything.Yahoo.com for the complete list of random garbage). Yahoo should be focusing on its strengths and mercilessly removing everything else.

Yahoo has always been pretty good at apps: cross-platform Messenger, an impressive web mail interface for the iPad that looks almost native, etc. They are a web and design powerhouse, if only somebody told them. This is expertise that can be sold; they need to continue building a small number of apps to demonstrate their prowess, and contract this out to develop anything for anyone (e.g. make Yahoo the go-to place for high quality mobile apps for the iPhone?). Even throw the free software community a bone by pulling a Nokia (the old Nokia) and making a Qt-like dual-license so their services have even greater reach.

Yahoo is also a decent source of news, but they aren't pushing this enough. With a bit of care and attention they could clean up the mess that is modern media and give people a really desirable digital newspaper...something that everyone would want as their home page.

Find and fire the people in their company who build toolbars and installers that push toolbars. The last thing any company needs is to be connected with something that users may loathe.

That's just off the top of my head. :)

I'd focus on revenue:

  - Reduce the number and variety of ad formats.
  - Kill products which are revenue sinks.
  - Focus on products which can generate revenue "out the gate"[0].
This gets operating expenditures down, which buys time. That's pretty much all it does, though.

Then I'd sit back and ask the company[1] "what do we do?" Depending upon the answer, those are the products, strategies, and revenue opportunities we pursue next.

My personal feelings here probably wouldn't matter much, because no matter how intelligent I, or anybody else is, the top 100 creative producers at a company like Yahoo would probably be more creative, intelligent, in-touch, etc than I just by stint of sheer numbers[2]. So, take the best of their ideas[3], and execute on them.

Then, after building up a business which can sustain itself again, I'd start pursuing longer term goals. These goals would be aligned with what the company is capable of: large-scale, software-driven, media operations on the web.

During all of this, of course, there'd need to be a lot of firing and hiring. It'd suck. I'd hate it. But, knowing the tech industry, the people who were fired would find better jobs, and the new people would want to prove themselves. The trick is making sure you didn't waste effort on Sisyphean tasks. Yahoo is not a research company. Yahoo takes existing innovations and brings them to a mass market. Focusing on that would be a strength.

[0] A rodeo term, believe it or not.

[1] Or, say, the top 100 creative people there.

[2] Finally noticed me stealing plays from the Apple playbook?

[3] By which I mean, "ideas which can make lots of cash in the short term".

It's a very interesting question. I use yahoo a fair bit for email accounts and for reading the news. I am not sure how they monetize this activity if at all.

Recently they forced me out of the old interface with email. Now I can no longer open emails I want to read by option-clicking on links to open them in new browser tabs. All mouse clicks are intercepted by the javascript on the page. Without the ability to do this the email is significantly slower and less easy to use than before. Now I am faced with finding a new email provider, and not gmail. If they had just left it alone or allowed me to use the old. No doubt others feel the same way.

But what do to? Well for news I read yahoo but comment on topix, which is community oriented. Yahoo should clone that. Unlike topix, yahoo seems to license their news content which should provide an advantage. Have news discussion local like with topix. Then sell local classifieds if you get enough local activity boards going and frequented. Might be hard at this point though to get people away from topix.

For me yahoo signified privacy and flexibility with the emails. I used to get news alerts on some topics but they never worked reliably or consistently. Haven't gotten one in a long time so I guess that feature was cancelled.

Oh I also use yahoo groups. These groups should have cloned the functionality of ning.com, to supplement and expand the mailing list paradigm. Yahoo groups have never worked well, screwing up the formatting of most posts and not having a smooth experience for integrating media. That all should have been fixed decades ago. Then try monetizing it like ning does with pay for extras and pay to be the premium ad free host.

A lot of the problems have a vibe that the programmers aren't great, or aren't around long enough to make things great. A lot has the feel of middle management dictating features to programmers rather than software designers being the developers and having the autonomy to own projects long term and make them great.

I made a comment earlier about the Yahoo mail interface as well and I agree with you that the new interface is too much. I think they still let you use the old interface but eventually they will force everyone to switch permanently.

I'd start with Yahoo Stores. PG, RTM, and Trevor Blackwell's creation was cutting-edge in 1996 but the web has changed a lot since then and Yahoo Stores hasn't. The store editor would proabably still work with Netscape 3, it's so non-web-2.0-ish. Even so, a lot of businesses still use it, but that number is probably shrinking.

With Yahoo Stores up-to-date I would try to position Yahoo as a small-to-medium business portal. It's a lucrative market and the competition isn't what it could be (despite the success of Sales Force, Magento, et al).

This would be, or seem to be, a big risk to current revenue, but unless they are bold enough to do that it's going to fade away in time anyway.

Actually motivating the middle management at Yahoo to do this would be tough. Perhaps it's time to simplify the management layer and give technical people more responsibility.

This got me to thinking. Can anybody think of any Yahoo property that appears to have received more than, say, the equivalent of 6 months work from a single dev over the course of the last 5 years? Flickr has seen some teeny tiny changes but everything else seems to be stuck in perpetual stasis.

Good point. I do remember someone from Yahoo who spoke at the first Startup School about the webmail redesign - but that was five or six years ago. Why is everything stuck in perpetual stasis over there? Is it that the leadership doesn't have the vision to suggest or sign off on major redesigns, or that middle management can't make them happen?

They'be been rewriting Yahoo Mail in nodejs: http://developer.yahoo.com/blogs/ydn/posts/2010/07/multicore...

They need a core competency and being a portal is just not worth anything (to me).

They abandoned anything like search - a pointless skin on top of Bing is not a product of any value. How many of their users just go to Google?

They seem to have no compelling value add over Gmail / HotMail in the webmail space.

They seem to have mismanaged Flickr into second place behind Facebook as a webstore & sharing entity for photos (in my opinion).

Yahoo messenger doesn't seem to be gaining on or offer anything over FB chat, Gtalk, MSN et al.

So yes like Apple in the 90s, they have lots of stuff some of it cool but too weak focus and no market leadership in anything.

Unlike Apple they don't have a Steve Jobs and a big pile of cool technology and talent like NeXT to buy and absorb. Indeed when they do buy in cool product & talent they seem to mismanage it to death eg Flickr and Delicio.us

A very good question - what should they do?

I would buy Geocities and then shut it down a few years later. I would start charging for my free dating/personals site. Then I would eventually shut that down too as people find other alternatives. I would make sure that my instant messaging network is closed to outside clients and that alternative clients have to reverse engineer the the network protocol. I would make sure my search engine is just slightly better than Lycos and ignore the success of Google. After all, Google is just a fad.

Ok, seriously, pretty much they need to stop pushing people away. Open up APIs. Don't get rid of the old mail interface. It works fine. Continue to offer choices. Don't touch the finance site. Don't touch Flickr. Don't censor Flickr. Fight spam in yahoo groups. Offer IMAP/POP3 free.

A lot of Yahoo!'s traffic is from older people. I'd capitalize on that by creating a social networking site that appealed to that demographic -- sort of like Classmates.com in that it would have an emphasis on nostalgia, but with the features of a Facebook-esque social networking site. (Also, no sleazy banner ads like Classmates.com has. Those ruin the brand for people outside the target demographic.) The plan would be to grab seniors like Facebook grabbed college students, then spread to the general population, like Facebook did.

It's probably unorthodox to expect a site to spread from older to younger people, rather than the other way around, but parents and grandparents have badgering power. If grandma really wants you to get a Yahoo! account so she can keep in touch, there's a good chance you'll at least humor her and get an account. Then you'll notice a lot of your friends have accounts too and add them (because hey, why not?). If the site does a good job of appealing to younger people as well as older people (it's important to strike a good balance), maybe you'll stick around.

I don't know anything firsthand about Yahoo!'s internals, but from another HN thread, it looks like they're probably bloated with counter-productive people. Fixing that in the long term would be important, but probably isn't possible in the short term; Yahoo!'s corporate structure may suck, but it keeps things running, and that's important. In the short term, though, it would be crucial to ensure that the team working on the social network was as unburdened as possible by the existing corporate structure.

Michael Dell should make a public statement about how they should shut it down and return the money to share holders as a good luck charm. I fear in this case it'd be the right thing.

Grow existing traffic, monetize through innovative ADVERTISING. Most of all, keep your userbase trusting and preferring Yahoo! products.

Have several independent advertising R&D units, each of which operate independently and can take big risks on small portions of Yahoo! traffic.

As other commentators have noticed, Yahoo! has a strong brand as a middle-brow internet presence. A lot of tech-unsavvy users think of Yahoo! as a friendly, trustworthy internet presence. They have a lot of traffic through mail, and Messenger is a strong product too.

They should keep spinning out products for tech-unsavvy users, to keep and grow their traffic, and to strengthen their brand as the friendly, safe choice. They should acquire and/or brand friendly products as Yahoo! Risk is minimized on this front because safe, friendly choices are made to grow traffic and engagement.

On the R&D side, they should focus on innovating in the advertising space, without turning off their users. They should advertising while driving traffic from Yahoo! to Yahoo! properties as much as possible. The innovation and the risks come in the approach to advertising. Big picture thinkers, mavericks, etc. can each have separate skunk-works labs that they can incubate new approaches to advertising. Luckily, each advertising R&D unit can test new advertising models on small portions of Yahoo! traffic.

I don't know if they do this or not, but they could make an api like google offering developers a platform to make apps and features connected to the site. If I were yahoo I would call out to developers and use my name to attract them.

Google has laid claim to so must virtual real-estate by being the number one place where developers put all their work for free at that! Google has laid the way for yahoo why don't they just start copying some of those things. Us developers have helped google get huge and most of it was free. Look at chrome with all of it's extensions and apps. They offer a platform to develop give us "free space" with appengine then we code away giving them more power with every key stroke.

Now we have the "cloud", the one holding the most data has the most power. If I were yahoo I would get into the cloud game. People won't leave your site if you possess all of there music and other information.

I digress with, have people thought about what cloud computing will do long term. I'm not saying that these companies are out to get us, well they're out to get our money. But, don't I think they're plan anything malicious. However, anyone can be hack even google (China).

Some people are just not informed enough to not put personal information in these clouds. With data mining these companies will be able to infiltrate our personal lives so much more then we imagine.

Anyway I will stop, and don't get me wrong I love google that was not bash but more of a passionate thought.

So, if I were yahoo, I would build a cloud, develop an api, attract developers, and maybe create a news site ran by users.

This will require strong leadership. First thing is you're gonna have to convince the Board and investors not to simply sell Yahoo off. The changes have to be dramatic in order for Yahoo to thrive:

- Simplify it, starting with the homepage. There are way too many things going on here, and I'm sure a ton of features many people don't use. Yahoo dating is handled via Match, but most people who date online already know what Match is, why go through Yahoo? And get rid of Yahoo shopping for now as well, it's not clear what purpose it serves. - Focus on the things that count the most to people. That would include Flickr, Finance, email. Even Yahoo News is pretty useful. - Build a social network around your existing email users. Allow your users to easily incorporate their photos from Flickr. It may be easier to focus on building a network that is mobile based, rather than desktop. If you're going to make an acquisition, try something along the lines of Instagram and then incorporate flickr into it. Then grow it from there, don't even bother with a desktop version, you won't be able to take on facebook at this point. - Getting back to Finance - invest more into it. There's no reason it can't be a CNBC or Bloomberg. I like reading the articles, but I'm not entirely thrilled with the video segments and the quality of the guests, which would typically include some random unknown private equity/hedge fund type person predicting a financial apocalypse. Big potential here. You could create an independent channel that is featured on Yahoo! and maybe partner with companies that will ultimately require more content as they take on the cable industry, such as Netflix, Apple, etc. I have a lot more ideas, but it's late and I'm tired. Despite it's criticisms I'm still a big Yahoo user, for email which I pop (oh, and make it free - that's just a nice thing to do at this point). I'm hoping they make some bold moves to enhance their stature.

man. i'd take the CEO job in a heartbeat.

So would I (although I'd prefer to do HP; I wouldn't do USPS, though). It's at least as big a challenge as building a startup.

Of course, with Yahoo, I'd probably be selling a lot of stuff and streamlining, and possibly sell the entire thing. Still, realizing shareholder value.

Being a turnaround PE guy would be awesome.

I'd vote for that.

This is more of a personal wish than a biz plan, but I would like to see yahoo focusing in becoming a WebService provider, push YAP (http://developer.yahoo.com/yap/) more, merge services and release a competitor to Google Prediction API.

I have the feeling that Yahoo services are way overlooked, at least in my circle of devels.

If I had to narrow the target down, I would start by focusing strongly on Geo(location|tagging|aware) services.

I used Placemaker (http://developer.yahoo.com/geo/placemaker/) at a previous company I worked for and it was not just the best tool for the job but basically the only viable option to bootstrap our use case (MetaCarta was great too, but with an higher cost).

Yahoo's existence is unimportant - maximizing the value to its shareholders is. Yahoo's well played effort to get purchased by Microsoft (at a much higher share price - nearly 3x the current?) was exactly the move it needed to make at the time - and it was pure idiocy to not finalize it. The next Yahoo CEO needs to get the current managers and staff of each department to justify their profit/loss status - if a manager is not up to that role then find one who is. Then sell the losses, and put those people to work elsewhere if a refocus is going to occur. Take what's left and optimize it. Look for any new ideas that complement the profit makers. And if an offer at 50% more than market value comes along, take it, damn it.

There's a scene I really like in The Wire in which one of the major drug kingpins realizes that his product (heroin in this case) was inferior and expensive compared to the other stuff on the market, so he asks his community college professor what to do.

Rebrand it.

If they want to survive they need to hire a bunch of really, really great designers and consolidate their properties so that it looks nice, because their homepage looks like a screencap from 10 years ago. Allow people to assemble their home pages like iGoogle. Better integrate Delicious and Flickr into their other properties. Partner with Facebook to add a social component. Decide what they stand for it and make it contrast with Google. Maybe privacy. Then make that the drumbeat of everything they do.

People google things, nobody yahoos things. Yahoo is not cool. yahoo.com is a joke, it's a page full of garbage.

Rebranding might help, but it's very very expensive, and it will only postpone the inevitable.

Yahoo needs to invent something new.

They've pretty much lost the desktop search engine market. The mobile search is still petty nascent and lots of opportunities for innovation and a market leader.

So I'd get on the forefront of mobile making it the thing to focus on possibly partnering up with a hardware device developer. Fork Android OS and make customizations to it tailored for Yahoo services.

Invest in R&D for mobile search and bring something new and useful to the table that nobody else like Apple or Microsoft has to wow everyone and put them back on the map as an innovative company. ie. still lots of mobile browser inefficiencies that can be improved upon.

Lastly make everything lean and mean, and focus.

Yahoo's has struck great vibe with their developer events, the Hackdays especially. And a handful of their APIs and developer related tools are too good even today. Yahoo Pipes was way ahead of it's time when it was released. YQL is one of the coolest APIs I've used. And a few others. Start offering freemium APIs. Go all out with rapid prototypes that doesn't try to do what's already there (like what they did with Yahoo Mash).

Right now their homepage seems like they just want to try and make a penny of anything from Auto to social apps to finance. Shutdown or spin off a lot of unrelated features & services that clutter their vision.

I would focus on two things: #1 innovation and #2 revenue.

With innovation, as CEO I would lead a entire division focused on innovation and discovering the next billion dollar revenue source. Lots of prototyping, refining, and searching for the next big thing.

With #2 revenue, I would focus on what currently is giving Yahoo the most revenue and seek ways to grow that. This would provide moderate growth but most importantly fund the innovation that will be the future of the company. Anybody ready to vote me in?

Separate innovation divisions never work.

Yahoo is just an agglomeration of crap, some of which is successful, some of which isn't. It only looks like a big thing because there's so much of it. If I were to take over yahoo I'd break it up into component parts and let them fare as they will. Yahoo stores would probably do just fine, maybe Flickr would find some new vigor, as for all the rest, who knows? But it's probably better than the slow, suffocating decline they're facing now.

Buy duckduckgo and replace yahoo's antiquated search and results layout would be a great start.

Otherwise, a seriously minimalistic ui overhaul is in order.

That's laughable because DuckDuckGo is built on the Yahoo BOSS API.

Here is a crazy option. Buy Square. Make Jack Dorsey CEO. Square could be the "PayPal for Yahoo" and Jack Dorsey is probably the closest person to Steve Jobs that you could get to run a company today.

Allow Square to operate separately, making Keith Rabois CEO of Square and put Jack Dorsey in charge of revitalizing the rest of Yahoo.

I think Yahoo's suite of verticals with the traffic that Yahoo has, if done right, could be the biggest asset for Yahoo and the closest thing to a unique asset that they have. So as a portal, Yahoo links to a lot of vertical services currently (Monster for jobs, Match for dating) or has there own owned-and-operated subsidiary (finance, autos, flickr).

Find ways that the verticals can be improved and invest heavily to do so. Preferably re-create verticals that are currently outsourced, but be patient with doing so. Be willing to shrink margins in the short term to gain market share. What is needed for each vertical will be different, but I imagine there is room for innovation and improvement in each. A lot of personnel changes will probably have to be made. The CEO (for this example Jack Dorsey) will need his cadets that he trusts to run the different products. I think a similar org-chart to Google's reorganization makes sense...a few people at the very top and then put someone in charge of each product and give them a lot of responsibility.

I think it may be possible to provide a rich and effective user experience so that overtime users would go directly to a Yahoo vertical instead of searching on Google or Bing/Yahoo. Also, Yahoo could then place some results from their vertical properties on top of the Yahoo search results to better serve Yahoo users (if they can actually do the verticals right). This could be a very interesting twist on search and a differentiator. It would be a risk, but I think something like that is needed to have a fighting chance to grow search market share which is currently at 17.9% and makes up 53% of Yahoo's revenue.

I wonder WWSJD? In Steve Job's 1997 keynote when he returned to Apple, he talked about vertical integration being the biggest strength of Apple, even though many others considered it a burden and a weakness. He admitted that many current Apple products sucked and that they needed to improved dramatically improve core products and kill off others in order to be competitive. He admitted the importance of integrating more tightly with Microsoft and didn't want to think of the situation as being Apple vs. Microsoft.

For Yahoo, their nearly complete suite of vertical products is potentially their biggest strength even though many consider it a burden and weakness. Yahoo has to admit that a lot of their products currently suck and will need to kill some off while dramatically improving others. Yahoo already admitted that they couldn’t cut it in the resource intensive search game and got out.

I know it sounds crazy, but maybe the portal can make a come back. SEO spammers have dramatically lowered search quality in certain areas and has made it harder for people to find the content that they really want to find. A portal can make it easy for the average web user to find what they looking for with a higher signal to noise ratio by a combination of high-quality curated content, vertical sites and a Bing-powered search engine with a Yahoo twist.

In reality, I don't know whether Yahoo really has the assets, the cachet or the people needed to pull off this turn around. If I was on the board, I would seriously consider a buy out offer if a sweet enough one came to the table. That being said, this plan would be a whole lot more fun to see being played out.

What does Yahoo do?

It's a web portal, a collection of lifestyle apps and services that don't really relate to each other or have a core service holding them together. Imagine Google without the search, just mail and docs and messenger and that other stuff.

1) A unified, coherent design language and user experience for the site. This would really make Yahoo stand out, as even Google is clunky with this ("more" and "even more"). As it stands currently, it's too visually cluttered and hard to navigate. Example: I used to use Babelfish a lot, but trying to browse to it from the front page is well-nigh impossible. Another thought: sort the list of Yahoo sub-sites by popularity instead of alphabetically. It's fine to have umpty million different sub-sites, but they need to be coherently organized and findable. Yahoo really needs a first-class UI, even more than Google or Bing do, because Yahoo actually is a portal, and a portal is different things to different people. It needs to be cleanly navigable and this includes cleaning up the 1990s looking My Yahoo.

2) Back to basics: search. As soon as possible, get rid of the Bing mess and get back to being a premier search provider. Type nearly any topic into any search engine and you get a Wikipedia page first thing. If I type "hacker" into Yahoo, out of the top ten results, there are five junky results: 2 Wikipedia pages, one Answers.com page, one Dictionary.com page, and one WordIQ page. If I want to get a definition or an encyclopedia page, I can go to those sites. Web search is supposed to pull up awesome cool links from the web, not the standard junk pages that have shallow content and are not hard to find. Even Google is getting infested with these kind of crap results. Nowadays, if I find an awesome link it is typically via a site like HN or somebody's blog, but I remember the days when I used to love going to Google and digging up fresh new links that were interesting.

3) Social is still "ripe for disruption" as they say. The flurry of interest around Google+ is evidence of this. People want more control, and more privacy, and a greater ability to differentiate their online identities without any one identity compromising the other. Eric Schmidt's response to this is "well if you have something to hide blah blah blah" but it's not about having something to hide. It's about the fundamental human need to interact differently in different social and economic settings. Maybe the guy who works as a cube jockey in some corporate wasteland needs to have his LinkedIn profile for trying to make it to the next level, but what about his sideline trying to network his way into a graphic design job? Maybe he needs a couple of profiles and wouldn't like to have to use his real name on either. Innovative approaches to allowing flexibility and growth on social sites (isn't that what the web is supposed to be about?) instead of locking people into one idea that they damn well better stick their RealName(tm) on... that is an area where Yahoo could step in and fill a void. Particularly if it was done right, and done in a way to leverage their existing myriad of user bases across the niche sites.

4) Quality. (Echoes of Steve Jobs and his quest for the perfect shade of yellow in an icon.) An enterprise-wide push for quality would help. Instead of being meh at 100 things, Yahoo could easily be awesome at those same 100 things. They already have the infrastructure in place, they just need to clean house and remodel. (This kind of ties back to point 1.) Flickr is a prime example. It's big, it's a brand name, it has a loyal user base, but it isn't awesome. It needs to be awesome.

5) Develop an identity. If the preceding four steps are done right, this will follow. Google's identity is "search plus a bunch of other crazy shit, and they have really cool offices to work at" right now. It works for them because search (advertising) makes them so much freaking money. But it's not really a coherent identity. Yahoo's identity could easily be "the coolest web portal with the best links". If Yahoo became synonymous with premium quality, they would be unstoppable.

To your point 5, yes.

Google is cool because it lets you search for cool stuff, but they aren't anything identifiable except as they find cool stuff for you. gmail and plus, sort of, I guess.

Yahoo can BE cool stuff.

Ah, I see they're for sale.

Well, maybe they can be a bargain.

yahoo power is eyeballs. because it has 'premium content'? HELL NO!

front page PVs skyrocket when it redirected the email logout to it... so that proves NOBODY goes to the frontpage for 'premium content'

people go to yahoo for the assorted free stuff(tm).

does it's email need to be the best one? no, but it's ok and free. and you already see lots of @yahoo around, so why not?

Will people still use flickr even if it lacks 'social networking' features and ugly themes? quite probably. Should they ditch flickr and 'focus' on display advertising and 'premium content'? hell no.

Does babel fish needs to be better than a paid translator? hardly. but it still kicks google translator butt. sadly nobody that arrives to yahoo now will even know it exists.

Bottom line is:

everyone has found memories of yahoo. But for some it was geocities, for some it was their first email... for others it was the way to find pages. heck it may even be because of the cool TV ads!

yahoo should be monetizing this by inventing clever ways to put Ads on those in a manner that isn't offensive.

But no, disregard all that. let's steer yahoo into AOL foot steps. Everyone wants to read about hollywood stars and wacky red neck oddities while a 'hit the monkey' flashing ad fights for their attention.

Yahoo lost. It's the new AOL. It has a few nice products, but only a miracle acquisition will save it.

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