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Advice for Marissa Mayer from an ex-Yahoo (sriramk.com)
474 points by sriramk on July 17, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 253 comments



This is actually reads like a pretty good list of suggestions for any new leadership team, not just Yahoo. Fire all the "architects" who get paid $250,000 to make gigantic UML diagrams and can't actually code. Pay top dollar to retain and recruit talent. Don't spend a whole lot of time with some broad marketing message that everyone will immediately denounce as meaningless fluff anyway. Stop re-inventing the wheel. Form great teams and empower them to make great products.

I'd just like to add that I think it's important for Mayer or anyone else in this position to do this quickly. If you're two months into the job and you're still having "introductory meetings" with all the departments and putting together "the vision," then by the time you actually start to make any changes, it'll be that much harder because of how much your products have declined and your talent has hemorrhaged in the meantime.


Specifically on the architect issue, I think the system and the incentives are setting them up to fail. If you're a senior guy, measured on fluffy terms like 'influence', you're not going to get a promotion by saying you designed the simplest thing possible - or by saying you just took this project from Github that happens to solve your problems.

You are incentivized to build grand, complex systems which will look good when you want to do a talk at an O'Reilly conference - which is exactly what winds up happening.


Sorry Sriram, I was going to let this whole point slide, but I just can't. I think your advice on the architect issue is out-of-whack.

When I hear the phrase 'fire anyone who has architect in their title', here's what I hear in my internal monologue: Yes! Fire all the architects! Front line engineers know what every other development group is doing and can integrate their systems in a pinch! They are also across the application security requirements recently mandated in government regulation and can implement that too! No-one needs company-wide frameworks, because each development unit's home-grown libraries are good enough. Systems design? Pfft, overrated. Just check it in and break things, it's called 'agile'.

I apologise if my internal monologue sounds shrill, but your advice to 'fire all the architects' sounds similar to advice from developers to 'fire all the marketing department'.

edit: I am not an architect, this is not a defensive rant.


At Google (& presumably Facebook and other tech companies), people do all that, but they have the title "engineer". Because unless you actually know what's going on in the coding front-lines, you won't be effective at integrating with other systems. And if you don't understand how your company-wide frameworks are being used in actual code, you will build shitty frameworks.

There's a good reason why "engineer", "architect", and "systems integrator" should not be distinct roles.


I've known more than a few "architects" worthy of that title.

Then there are the bozos. They stand out pretty dramatically, so maybe that's why the title is a little poisonous in my head. "You're an /arrrccchhhitect?/ I'm the Queen of England, we should have lunch." (<--- not actually said :-) )

My touchstone is: If an architect is unwilling to write code then they belong in the second camp. If they're willing to write code, but don't have enough time, I look at when they last wrote code; if it's been more than a couple of years I start getting critical.

In this industry, I think it's important to stay grounded in code. You can get away without that if you're a pure career manager, but you'd better realize that you're no longer capable of designing systems at that point.


> Front line engineers know what every other development group is doing and can integrate their systems in a pinch!

Well, no one knows what every other development group does in a company of significant size. And more often than not, no one can integrate systems in a pinch; and when it comes to integrating, the front line engineer does it. Unless your hypothetical architect has magical powers, I don't see how your point is relevant.

It's up to the other development teams to expose an interface to their services and make their libraries re-usable; and most importantly, document them and let other teams know. A company should encourage, and somewhat mandate(Bezos directive regarding no stinking db accesses, only services).

> They are also across the application security requirements recently mandated in government regulation

I don't know where you work, but the places I have worked, all mandated and non-mandated security requirements are implemented by engineers. I am curious. Care to quote me some of these security requirements of yours?

> can implement that too!

Implement what? I haven't implemented a hashing algorithm, or public-private key encryption ever, and most likely am not going to - I use tested, out of box components like I should. What's rocket science in storing hashed-salted passwords, or using SSL for transport, or PGP for offline...which engineers are incapable of? If they indeed are incapable of using bcrypt for storing passwords, well, I don't know what to say - words fail me.

> No-one needs company-wide frameworks, because each development unit's home-grown libraries are good enough

I am yet to see a company-wide framework which is relevant to anything beyond a small team, let alone useful. That said, I need to secure encode input and that other news team which takes news feed from variety of providers in multiple languages has already something for sanitizing markup. Are you implying without this architect of yours, I won't talk to the other team, or look at the code; and go in my cave to re-implement that? That makes 0 sense to me.

> Systems design? Pfft, overrated. Just check it in and break things, it's called 'agile'.

Where does this come from?

> but your advice to 'fire all the architects'

The architects in the article refer to a particular kind of person who finds it beneath himself to actually implement something, and spends his day making slide deck and uml diagrams. And yes, they should be fired, unless they are capable of and interested in implementing the stuff they swore by in their slides. Do a PoC and the engineer will take it from there. But don't come in with your ppt - you are wasting everyone's time.


> The architects in the article refer to a particular kind of person who finds it beneath himself to actually implement something, and spends his day making slide deck and uml diagrams. And yes, they should be fired, unless they are capable of and interested in implementing the stuff they swore by in their slides.

So if I understand correctly, the only value-add to software development is cutting code?

Let me put this another way via an analogy: should the architect who designs your house also be required to wire the electrics, install the plumbing, and lay the blocks too? And if he/she is not interested in "implementing" (because a design deliverable is not an implementation right?), then they should be fired?

Wow.


> So if I understand correctly, the only value-add to software development is cutting code?

The only value add to software development is people who can do software development. If all you do is pull slides out of your ass, you aren't welcome.

> Let me put this another way via an analogy: should the architect who designs your house also be required to wire the electrics, install the plumbing, and lay the blocks too?

Yeah. Surely a building architect and software architect are comparable.

/s

I am not interested in wiring and plumbing(tests, deployment scripts if you will), but if you come raving about how bayes classification is so sub-par, and you should use svm, you better know what is linear classification, non-linear classification(svm), and have a PoC with the data set comparable to what is being used in the application which cross-validates and proves svm is better than my bayes.

If you just read about it in some book(or blog or wherever), and can't implement it or you just think you can drop slides on me and I am supposed to do it, the door is over there - please show yourselves out and quit wasting my time. Your ppts and umls mean shit to me. If the upper management tolerates(or worse, appreciates it), do the dance for them. I am not impressed.


> The only value add to software development is people who can do software development.

You just described why projects fail. Developers Developers Developers.

Architects? We don't need, we are so smart we integrate everything ourselves. Marketing? Sales? Who needs that, my github repository sells and when it doesn't, there is always oDesk.

And don't get me started over "customers" and "clients".

To cut the sarcasm here, yes, I know that a lot of MBA's and Architects suck. As do a lot of software developers, even if they call themselves agile or know that svm is somehow related to classification.

So I do not really see where this straw man burning leads to .


> The only value add to software development is people who can do software development.

>> You just described why projects fail. Developers Developers Developers.

Read it again. Software development isn't the same as the whole project.

> Marketing? Sales? Who needs that, my github repository sells and when it doesn't, there is always oDesk. And don't get me started over "customers" and "clients".

Hyperbole.

> I know that a lot of MBA's and Architects suck.

Not what I said. "If you are an architect, I don't care about your slides and umls, unless you know what you are talking about, and can do a PoC before dumping your horseshit of slides on me." is what I said.

> As do a lot of software developers, even if they call themselves agile or know that svm is somehow related to classification.

I implemented bayes, and suppose I don't know about svm. If an architect comes raving about svm is so much better than bayes because (I read a blog/I read a book/my thesis adviser told me so/once I did a project), it's your job to prove svm is better for the problem at hand. Don't waste my time with your slides and blogs.

> So I do not really see where this straw man burning leads to .

I don't either. Your whole post is full of hyperbole(marketing sucks, oDesk, github). You are making up arguments I didn't put, and then responding to them.


I think the only value-add about the construction of software can only come from people who are regularly cutting code. Other people just don't have enough detail to understand the implications of their mandates.

Your analogy is poor.

A normal house uses well-understood materials and established techniques to build very similar buildings. And even there, bad architects, ones without construction experience, can cause a ton of trouble. Talk to a house-builder sometime.

But many software projects aren't like that. They're much more like landmark buildings: novel structures, novel techniques, novel materials. And there, architects can cause massive troubles. Look at the Sydney Opera House, at 14x over budget and 10 years late. It's a classic case of an architect with limited understanding of construction techniques and materials just making shit up.

And of course, there's the problem that systems architects do something totally different in relation to software (issuing mandates about the internals and construction techniques) than architects of buildings (visionaries about the look and use).


>>So if I understand correctly, the only value-add to software development is cutting code?

No,

But if the guy doesn't know to cut code, I doubt if he can do anything advanced that can be built on top of it.

We are just saying you can't claim to be architect without coding or knowing coding.

>>Let me put this another way via an analogy: should the architect who designs your house also be required to wire the electrics, install the plumbing, and lay the blocks too? And if he/she is not interested in "implementing" (because a design deliverable is not an implementation right?), then they should be fired?

He should be able to do analogous work in software(That is he should understand and be able to implement electrics, plumbing and laying blocks in software). If he can't he is just a black berry button pushing, Slide making, glorified desk supervisor and not an architect.


>Let me put this another way via an analogy: should the architect who designs your house also be required to wire the electrics, install the plumbing, and lay the blocks too?

For better or worse, this is not a good analogy.

Software is design all the way down, due to complexity. There is no realistic distinction between software design and software construction / implementation.

Also, regardless of whether the software architect actually does the development work, he should be capable of doing the work. Therefore an effective software architect is a software engineer.


That rant sounds good.

But then I note that every small company everywhere still manages to solve issues of integration, security, code reuse, and systems design. That's because you can do all of those things in ways other than top-down, hierarchical control from a central office.

I have never seen a company where "architects" empowered to boss people around via white paper and mandate didn't cause far more problems than they solved.


The point he is trying to make is that the title 'Architect' has been abused at Yahoo.


From what I've witnessed, it is typically an organizational issue. Let's say there's a site that has some sort of marketplace, and the company wants a better algorithm for searching the marketplace because the current algorithm is some crappy substring search. So they hire an architect with some advanced experience on search and tell him, "go figure out something cool that will solve this problem." So far so good.

If you're a developer who works on implementing site features and enhancements, this is what you see. The architect spends the next three months where every meeting his status is "I'm working on the search algorithm." That's all you know that's happening. You assume it's really cool and advanced and it requires his undivided attention, while you continue to juggle managing production issues and implementing new features on the site. Occasionally he has some question about existing search engine, and you show him how it works and due to some painful legacy decisions made earlier, it's pretty embedded in basically everywhere on the site, and everytime he just kind of grunts and scratches his beard and goes back to his desk.

Three months later the project manager taps you on the back and says, "hey, the CEO wants an estimate on how long it's going to take you to implement the architect's new search engine." Erm, okay. So you schedule a meeting with him to see what he has built so far. You don't even know what to expect at this point, since he barely asked you ANYTHING about the existing technology of the company. You're thinking maybe he built some sort of abstracted RESTful service, and hopefully the work on your end will consist mostly of translating direct SQL queries to REST calls.

But, no. Instead you get this HUGE diagram with barely comprehensible terms. Some things immediately jump out to you, like "previous search query terms" is in some sort of cylinder object you assume is supposed to be some sort of database, but you don't actually log the search queries to any database currently. And then there's all these boxes he seems like he just sort of hand-waves, like "baseline linguistic semantic engine," whatever the fuck that means. You ask him about that and he mutters, "oh yes, that is when you compare the search query term for the baseline frequency it occurs compared to the corpus," and this time it's you that grunts, but unfortunately, you don't have a beard you can stroke.

So basically, for you to "implement" this, you're going to need to do a ton of development work building data sources that don't even exist, and then implement his algorithm and find some way to make it robust and scale. So you tell your project manager, "yeah, um, whatever number we're using this quarter for estimating 'story' sizes or whatever, just use the biggest one and double it." And that's the last you hear of it until you're in some meeting a week later with the execs, and someone mentions some problem because the search engine performed suboptimally, and the CEO says, "Wait, I thought the architect already built the solution for that? Why haven't we put it into production yet?" And then you face-desk so hard you break 27 bones in your face and spend the next two years rehabilitating from your reconstructive plastic surgery.

So yes, it's not really the architect's fault. And I actually think architects, with the right skill set and organizational support, can be fantastic. At my last employer there was an architect on my team that was one of my favorite people to ever work with. If an architect is well-integrated with the team, and can work with them to actually develop what he's working on in tandem with reality and determine the right levels of abstraction, then they can be a great resource for a software team. Every time there was some feature request that made us think, "man, we're gonna need some PhD shit for that," our architect would ride to the rescue and figure out some way to solve it that was very advanced but still completely practical given the constraints of everything else, on top of providing general mentorship and design advice.

Architects can get a bad rap and in the example I just described, it's not really their fault. But, it's probably not worth continuing to pay them $250,000 to design completely impractical algorithms nobody can realistically implement, including themselves, either.


>>So yes, it's not really the architect's fault. And I actually think architects, with the right skill set and organizational support, can be fantastic.

Sorry, this looks like the same line of talk used to defend MBA's. And 'Architect' titled are basically MBA equivalents of the programming world. They want to manage things they can't do or understand too well in deep.

If you can't write code, you basically can't design large software that requires tons of code to be written. Architecture isn't merely black boxes represented as classes interacting with each other.

If you are an architect you should be able to write code which you can use to do prototypes, or demonstrate a proof of concept, or verify what somebody else is trying to show you, or you would like to show them. You should be able to point out bottle necks, pain points in large software code bases and correct them. You should know how to refactor and all other best practices in software world.

UML/Black box diagram only architects, aren't architects.


The architects and MBAs will counter by blathering something about siloing, antisocialism, poor communication skills, and anything else that will attempt to disparage and marginalize people who strive to understand things at all levels including the very deepest. Some people are insane about this. I've heard some messed up things like academic advisors telling me to avoid computer science professors because they are 'hard to talk to.'

Asimov's "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge" anti-intellectualism is really horrifying to behold and will be used against people who strive to know the high level and the bare metal. There is really no defense against this career-wise either except to get out in the open market where it's just you and your knowledge against the idea guys and their talk. In most organizations the idea guys like you describe will posse up because they have to.


Man, these are an awful lot of strawmen you're building up.

I don't have any experience with/at Yahoo, but I imagine that there are a lot of good employees and a lot of bad employees and its important to identify which is which.


As a counter point to your hand waving:

This guy: http://codahale.com/about.html

has 'Infrastructure Architect' as his job title.

I'd be wary of painting everyone who has Architect in their title with your broad brush strokes.


I am sure infrastructure architects or senior sysadmins have their own variations or equivalents of writing code. Like knowing command line usage to the teeth. Making sense of any documentation by just reading man pages, without having to hit Google in dark server rooms.

Or being able to building a Working Linux machine from scratch by compiling the kernel, and installing the utils. Or being able to network and administer a cluster of servers in a data center.

This is vastly different than, a guy who would just draw a block of servers on MS paint and connect them through some lines and then call himself an architect.


If you can't write code vs I’m a software engineer who says Writing tests for your code may not reduce the number of bugs, but it will make fixing the bugs you inevitably find easier.

Sorry, not the same type of person.


>>> phd shit ... Rides to the rescue with so ething implementable

if you have examples I would love to know. The variability of architects I have known has been enormous - I put them on a spectrum - everything from UML 'oh I don't need to program' waste of time to highly competant "set of principles" approach - such as why are we serving this per second data to all the clients by holding open connections to everyone of thousands of clients, let's put them on caches with 1 sec TTL all the way upto folks who live in the JvM and can debug it and explain how

can you supply examples of the phd shit solved and where it sits on the spectrum - cheers


I'm not sure the systems "look good", it's more like they "look too complex". That's the sign of a useless architect. Simple and efficient are so under-appreciated.


What's 'right' for the company is often not what looks best for you when performance review time comes around. That's sad reality in most big companies.


I disagree. There is never a shortage of need to improve things (unless this is some perfect world company that has 1 tough problem a year that the architect can busy himself with). So by getting the project done in whatever means possible (github or simple solution that works) he can move on and solve more problems in a year. That's real value to the company and translates into $$$. Also, the more complex a solution is the more it costs the company to maintain.


Do companies still have absurdly well-compensated "architects" who do nothing but diagram?


Yes, for many companies it's a critical part of the career path for programmers who don't want to be managers.

So all the good programmers (or programmers that stick around long enough) become architects. The system actively weeds out people with lots of domain knowledge and an ability to solve problems by promoting them into architects.

Theoretically architects should be helping teams write even better code than they did before, but usually the teams ignore what the architects do, so there's a whole "us versus them" thing going on.


Not all architects have a programming background. Eg. in Lucent, the architects where postdocs and PhD's in wireless technologies and related fields. I think even Google has postdocs as architects.


I worked at Google for a long time and never encountered anyone with the title "architect" or with a similar job role.


Given how much money IBM still makes off of Rational, clearly somebody's writing UML. I imagine that all that UML's being written at places like banks, defense contractors, three letter agencies...

If there really are people at an internet company like Yahoo doing that, well, wow. I don't see how a company where such a thing even was allowed to develop could have a future in this industry.


Having worked with some of the first few Rational employees, my understanding is that Rational was/is very good at sales through their consulting arms (hired a consultant? congrats, you just paid a member of their sales force to wear your employee badge!). They don't have particularly great usage numbers on those sold products, though.

That said, there are some very useful UML diagrams for non-architect-titled folks. For people stuck using class-heavy systems (some of which are out of their control), the UML Sequence Diagram is both useful and a very compact way to explain "what happens when the user goes <poke>": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sequence_diagram


Sequence diagrams existed before UML and for getting stuff done, and being able to maintain it, I prefer http://www.websequencediagrams.com/

I just paste the diagram description into my documents as "hidden text", and everyones happy.



I find it impossible to imagine anybody who can write a perfectly working software in a UML diagram without writing & testing a line of code


Many times, the word architect is just a word pre-pended to senior technology worker titles. I know several people who have that in their title and they are solid technologists with lot's of real-world experience. While the term may be abused often, many architects are great. Bad apples are easy to spot, no matter their title.


Damn right they do. These "architects" are typically folks who have just a bit of coding experience but learned to navigate the bureaucratic waters to their advantage, and they love it.

A real "architect" who really solves business problems with technology is called a CTO


And the architect's eventual spot is CIO (a CXO title as useless as "architect")


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Principle

The principle is commonly phrased, "employees tend to rise to their level of incompetence."


Yes. One enterprise that I am familiar with had a team of about 15 architects, most of whom were former programmers. None had programmed once in the enterprise architect role.

All of us here on HN are much more familiar with smaller outfits--smaller by more than an order of magnitude that typical "enterprise" outfits.

The diversity of programming environments is actually quite vast. Here on HN we are all closer to the actual code than a significant fraction of these environments.

Having done the enterprise thing (as well as the startup thing) that is how I prefer it.


Fire all architect and you will lose all good engineer and only bad one will stay (hoping to become managers). The problem with "individual contributors" (read engineers) is that the only way they can raise on the ladder is to become "architect". If that possibility becomes unobtainable (or insecure), oh well maybe Informatica or Oracle is hiring...

Anyway, good architects are very very important. If you want to succeed you need a secret sauce and person how can to break that secret saurce into deliverable pieces for which a good architect is worth gold.


The term 'Architect' is used differently in each company. In most of the companies I know, Architects are more technical people and only Product Managers have to be fired.


By an amusing coincidence the announcement of Mayer's new job came the day after I finished reading I'm Feeling Lucky[1], the memoirs of "Google employee #59". Its author makes it easy to read between the lines and get the impression that Marissa Mayer was an aggressively disruptive incompetent who could do whatever she pleased because she was sleeping with Larry Page. Whether that's actually fair I have no idea, but the book is interesting. The timing was such that the phrase "short sell!" popped into my head as soon as I saw the news.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/dp/0547737394


Unfortunately, the male-dominated tech world is pretty chauvinistic when it comes to women in positions of power. If she's headstrong and takes no BS, then she must be sleeping with someone in a position of power. Now, I know that MM was LP's GF at one time; but that doesn't mean she's an incompetent person. If it was a guy, people would be crooning, "ooh! he's such a ballsy guy!".


Make no mistakes, if being tagged in into a certain stereotype helps get a free cover for doing something wrong its likely to be abused.

In my country it was first thought that girls wearing burkha are modest of all. Until girls started doing all sorts of things wearing burkha just because nobody would even doubt them if they do it wearing burkha.

Similarly if you say 'male chauvinists' will always say this to women. Some day it will be taken for granted that even if you are actually wrong you can hide it behind and blame those 'male chauvinists'.


I don't think the "male-dominated tech world" would really respect a man for sleeping with the co-founder either.


Really? In my experience (and I'm being honest here), his colleagues would be high-fiving him for "bangin' the boss". I apologize for the crudeness, but I really think this would be the case.


> In my experience (and I'm being honest here), his colleagues would be high-fiving him for "bangin' the boss"

May be. But they sure won't be high-fiving him when the boss lets his incompetence slide, and bestows promotions and other benefits upon him(not related to Marissa; general scenario). If all you can see is people high-fiving for "bangin' the boss" you are seeing a very unrealistic and uni-dimensional view of the world.

Larry and Marissa in a relationship isn't something which is being pointed out. Your "high-fiving for banging the boss" is assuming it's related to being in a relationship. It's not. If she got any undue privilege, that's sad and deserves to be mocked. If she didn't, who she is sleeping with is nobody's fucking business.


I was under the impression that the beneficiaries of nepotism are resented regardless of their sex.


> I don't think the "male-dominated tech world" would really respect a man for sleeping with the co-founder either.

I won't have a problem with it unless that bestows special privileges.

> I was under the impression that the beneficiaries of nepotism are resented regardless of their sex. reply

They are resented, or at least they should be. If Marissa Mayer got away with being incompetent or being an asshole, she should be resented. Now she might be very competent(I have seen references to her papers), but that's no excuse for getting the extra mileage due to being in relationship with the co-founder.


Imagine this scenario in a office space.

    X makes mistakes, but still gets promoted/awarded/recognized
    Y makes mistakes, sometimes good work too but is always reprimanded. Never promoted/rewarded/awarded/recognized.
If this happens enough number of times, this smells of a classic case of nepotism. Now imagine if X is a women, Y is a man and the boss is man.

Can you imagine the rumors that would float around in this case?


In my experience, I'm competing with my colleagues, at least by some definition of "competition", and if one of them is under-performing at my expense because of a personal relationship, he's not getting high-fived.

Though at lower-skilled, lower-paid jobs I could see it being different.


Whatever happened in her past, if Marissa Mayer flops as CEO of Yahoo it will be a damning indictment of female performance as technology CEOs.

Certainly she, out of any X number of totally incompetent past Yahoo CEOs knows what the right direction for Yahoo is. The question will then be one of execution. Yahoo on its own will die, but still has an enormous and valuable user base (much like the cable/pay TV business, which needs to flush out its lying CEOs, but that's another story.)


> if Marissa Mayer flops as CEO of Yahoo it will be a damning indictment of female performance as technology CEOs.

I know you've already been downvoted but ugh. How many men have to fail as CEO before somebody indicts male performance as CEOs? This is a ridiculous statement. She is one person. If she fails it will be on her, her board, and the company she's taking over. Just like every other CEO. Stop damningly indicting every woman for the performance of other women.


Why? Yahoo CEOs both male and female have failed before her. Female CEOs have succeeded and failed elsewhere. Surely you can't consider Carol Bartz at Autodesk, Meg Whitman at eBay, or Diane Greene at VMware to be "failures."


One additional thing I'd like to see: Really strongly encourage dogfooding. One of the most depressing things I experienced while working at Yahoo was when I'd look around and see all my co-workers using competing email, search, maps, etc products. People looked at me funny when they noticed that I had taken some time to configure my.yahoo.com and set it as my home page. There was no sense of ownership of the various products, so nobody really cared whether or not they worked well.

On a related note, on the rare occasion when somebody did try using yahoo properties and they found an issue or wanted to suggest a feature (e.g. more powerful mail filtering capabilities), the common refrain that typically came back was "You're not the target audience." It was as if yahoo only wanted to cater to the most basic use case. Yahoo needs hiding behind this "not the target audience" crap and challenge itself to make a product that is both powerful enough to appeal to sophisticated users and simple enough to appeal to users with more basic needs. It can be done, and I'd point to Google and Apple as examples of companies that are enjoying much success right now because they've seen the value of it.


Build the Yahoo phone.

Mayer has the product experience to do it.

What do people do most with their phones? Email, messaging, photos, news, small games. Yahoo is strong in every one of these and more established across the board than all its competitors.

She can leverage Android/Ubuntu because she knows plenty of Unix developers, Amazon is paving the way for non-Google Android products, and the new Ubuntu mobile OS is pretty amazing.

She can leverage Flickr. This is Yahoo's golden answer to Facebook's Instagram, a $1b equal. Imagine a Yahoo phone with built-in Flickr upload and sharing.

She can leverage Yahoo media content alliances to provide a great content-driven phone, with news, music, and movies. I daresay Yahoo can pull ahead of even Apple and Amazon on these fronts.

She can leverage social networking: Yahoo Instant Messenger is a leader, Games is a leader, and Social Bar had 90m users and was a significant leader of Facebook’s Open Graph.

She can leverage Yahoo mail. Yahoo is still a huge player in email, ahead of Gmail in terms of users and IMHO interface as well.

Manufacturing and distribution can be outsourced. HTC is great for this. Start with a small phone, 3G, for mom and pop, and a $99 price point. Compete with the iPhone on price, and with Google phones on content. Subsidize like Amazon Prime.

Most important, Yahoo needs a rallying point-- a bold vision , something amazing to attract top developers and bring together diverse properties. The best way to do this is to go big.

If you're a mobile developer, who do you look to for leadership right now? Google/Android is splintered, Microsoft/Nokia seems DOA, Apple/iOS is walled, Facebook is admittedly behind, and Amazon is just gearing up.

Mobile is where all the action is happening, and it's where all these big competitors are going as fast as they can-- yet none has the mobile space well entrenched yet. This is Yahoo's perfect opportunity to bring it all together, to hire and inspire developers, and build a world-class integrated product. I believe the board knows this.

Yahoo has all the pieces to make this a home run. What they've been missing is the product leader. My money's on Mayer to do this.


Yahoo doesn't need a phone to leverage any of those products. It needs quality mobile apps what people actively want to install, and it needs partnerships with carriers and manufacturers to preload devices with their software to get more people to use their services. That's effectively Dropbox's mobile strategy. I presume it's working.


If Yahoo were a startup trying to ante up then I'd agree with you. Yet Yahoo already has the cards they need to play big: users, branding (especially in Asia), core products, content partnerships, profits, and financing in place to join the big 5: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft.


I don't see how the need for a phone follows from being a major internet player.

Apple built a phone to build a better phone.

Google built a phone to make sure they had a solid foothold in mobile ads and the mobile web in general.

Microsoft built a phone for mobile ads and to ensure that their enterprise applications had a mobile experience that they controlled, so no one would switch to a different application because it had better mobile features or support. It should be noted that Microsoft's efforts are failing, though their tablet will probably see some success. (EDIT: That's clearly not the reason why Microsoft built phones in the first place, but I think it's a solid justification for why they still care. Windows Phone is a money loser thus far.)

Facebook doesn't have a phone. They're rumored to be building one. I don't understand why it's a good investment for them when their apps are on every phone, with contacts integration on iOS.

Amazon is rumored to be building a phone, but I don't understand the logic behind it. The only reason they have a mobile OS is because they needed a device to push their content to.

Other than advertising, I don't see a good reason for Yahoo to start building devices that are any more involved than throwing some Yahoo apps on top of Android. If they built something incompatible with an existing mobile OS, it would fail.


The reason for Amazon to build a phone is for distribution of digital content. As Apple proved with the iPod and then the iPhone, the device is the distributor. Music, movies, video, books, and apps are all multi-billion dollar industries. In a fragmented world of content producers, power goes to the distributor. The decreasing costs of producing quality content means the world will only become more fragmented, hence distribution becomes more critical.


I guess I was thinking mostly about books. A phone makes sense since Amazon sells a lot of content that people consume on their phones, particularly music, and to a lesser extent, movies and books. As a defensive move against Google Play, it makes even more sense.


My comment aside, you are right to question if it's the wisest investment for Amazon to make a phone. Could they form strategic partnerships instead, paying handset manufacturers to install Amazon media marketplaces like Google did with Dell to install search? As Nokia, Palm, BlackBerry, and others can attest, phone making is a difficult business. I haven't crunched the numbers and cannot offer an informed opinion, but as I articulated above, there is reason for Amazon to consider the option.


"Imagine a phone with built-in Flickr". Right, I'm imagining it.. what's good about it? Why does anyone want that over Facebook integration?

You make good points about Yahoo's content, but they should work on integrating that content with someone else's device.


Flickr is stronger IMHO at searching, sorting, browsing, organizing, collaging, archiving, and sharing with loosely-connected groups. The HTML5 uploader is good and the Justified layout with thumbnail commenting is good too (similar to Google photo results, Metro, skydrive).

Will you do all these on your phone? I think yes, especially given the colossal success of Pinterest. People seem to love organizing, sorting, tagging, and collaging. And with the Yahoo phone, photos can be connected with your messenger, calendar, games, and email.


Am I going to search, sort, organise, collage and archive on my phone? They don't sound like everyday activities to me. The uploader and justified view wouldn't even apply to a mobile platform.


People who just want to share photos without all the snooping through the medicine cabinet that Facebook does (though Yahoo may do it too, for all I know).


So a tiny minority of people, then. I would be deeply concerned about launching a mobile platform on that basis.


In this case, the platform exists. This would be moving it to mobile and extending its audience/reach. I'm not big into photography so I'm a terrible judge of this particular domain. But it strikes me that if you are absent in such a large market as mobile, but already have a substantial user base you're risking losing customers as they move to the more convenient platforms. It also presents a barrier for new customers: go with a potentially better, but not on mobile, platform, or the slightly inferior, but available everywhere, platform?


Flickr already has an Android app, not particularly popular one though. There were late to the game, but so was Instagram.


No supply chain, hardware connections, or top talent. Steering clear from this and strongly partnering with Apple is a far superior plan.


I don't think a phone is good idea either, but all of this can be essentially had by partnering with an Asian ODM also.


The Yahoo phone would work in Asia, where the Yahoo brand carries a lot of weight and you already see entrenched Yahoo-branded services (e.g., http://bbpromo.yahoo.co.jp/). In America, I'm not so sure, but it's an interesting idea.


If they really wanted to do this, there is a struggling phone company that will most certainly be willing to talk in Waterloo...

That said, I think this is a bad idea for a number of reasons: 1) they can't leverage the same "total experience" OS/app combo that apple and google can. 2) they aren't in the hardware business, and google has already got a lock on all the non-software vendors. 3) seriously, phones?

One area that they might want to pursue though is cameras, not phones. I'm talking Canon/Nikon here...dslr's are begging for cloud integration and Flickr is right there. That would be 1-2 years out though, and Mayer may not have that time.

Short term solution though would be to ruthlessly cut the fat and focus on high value products. I'm assuming she has a good idea of where she wants to take the company already, but the question remains if the board will let her. You don't go through as many short term CEOs as Y! has without realizing that they aren't being allowed to call the shots when it matters.


They don't have the supply chain to pull an Amazon or the gravitas with the open source community to pull a Mozilla. A Yahoo phone would be DOA.


If Yahoo were to make hardware that leveraged Flickr's brand, I would think a slick web-connected digital photo frame or something like that would be a lot more attractive and lower risk.

Ultimately hardware is too high risk and low reward, especially when you're not firing on all pistons and basically in a something of an existential funk in many of the current business lines.


Exactly! What could go wro..


I think you get the award for dumbest idea of the day.


Seriously, friend

A person makes a suggestion and goes on to explain how it would work, why it needs to be done, etc... Never mind that his point is worth exploring, but you come out of nowhere and claim the idiocy of his proposition without 1) explain why, or 2) putting forward an alternative.

I cannot say you are exactly what is wrong with online societies, but your attitude is exactly that and your previous comments prove me right. All negative.

Seriously, Friend, change your attitude towards life.


Really? Why do you think so? :)


I think a big part of the problem is that, were Yahoo! to enter the phone game now, they'd be years behind their competitors. iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows mobile are all pretty established, and could all easily out-maneuver a new competitor. Second, I don't think she would really move into a market that Google is already working in by introducing competition for Android. Yahoo! needs to find some untapped market need and hit it HARD. Unfortunately, phones are probably not that need.


Per the GGP post, they can use Android, they wouldn't be competing with it. They can leverage their market position to create an additional Android app marketplace, or produce a suite of apps that create a Yahoo! integrated experience on other Android devices, whether they distribute these in their own store or someone else's. Android manufacturers already exist, establish a relationship with them and they can start churning out Yahoo!/Android devices in addition to their Google/Android B&N/Android and Amazon/Android devices. The device manufacturers are competing with each other and Apple for the market. They can be promiscuous with companies seeking to create X branded Android devices. They get to rely on their existing production infrastructure and design database, and they get paid by Brand X to create a custom design, it's not out of pocket for them.

The competition would be with the Google/Amazon branding, but Yahoo! already has a relationship with millions of customers, many of whom already own Android devices. Give them better Yahoo! integration into their existing devices + the future option of migrating to a Yahoo! branded device.


Ah yes, that makes sense. I'm not terrific at business sense, thanks. I had not considered that targeting existing Yahoo customers doesn't necessarily cannibalize Google's customers, since they're clearly not jumping to move to gmail, are they?


I'm not the person you are responding to, but I do think the idea of a Yahoo Phone isn't a winner. Mostly because phones are basically fashion items at this point. Can you imagine anyone being impressed that you have the latest Yahoo phone? Me neither.


Sounds like a step-by-step legacy code refactoring from an engineer :).

I'm sure in the real-world, executing any of the advises will have unknown repercussion.

1. It's hard to fire 10k people _correctly_ and expect things to still work without crushing morale (you may fired potential heroes as well), or perhaps even being poked by government over job losses?

2. I'm not sure a 23 years old hot-shot developer exist. No way Jose. There may be some smart and talented 23 year old, but they're by no mean "hot shot developer". You may get a better result by hiring a 26-32 years old developers. But not fresh grad. Unless your point being to work them like there is no tomorrow, a typical scenario in Silicon Valley startups. Or: today's mess will become tomorrow problem, so you're back to square one with Yahoo! sooner or later => uncontrolled legacy codebases. [Nobody will come out and say that Yahoo has one of the best codebase out there, even Flickr is notoriously bad].

3. Rounding up the smartest people in the planet is hard to begin with, making sure they all can work together without brushing ego is even harder (especially when everyone wants to leave their mark), finally, expecting rainbows and unicorns to show up is magical I would say.

5. Yeah, whatever, BYOD, use standard toolset, sure. If sys-admin needs their BB, be it.

The rest are generics and nothing to complain/argue/discuss.

Yahoo! should definitely shed its fat: people and products, no doubt. Next they should think hard on what needs to be done with the successful products they have left. Once stabilization and culture are in place, then you can start doing something more extreme. Rocking the almost tumbling boat seems to be a recipe to drown everybody.


I know so much of this is a tongue-in-cheek suggestion.

It's one of those, "yeah I meant that" if it turns out right, and, "no, I'm clearly enacting poe's law", when it's wrong scenarios. "I'm clearly joking wink".

Anyway, you could have reduced all of those ten points in to a single bullet point and I still would have upvoted this story.

> Make a huge sign with the phrase ‘the premier digital media company’. Then make a video of you running a bulldozer over it crushing that sign. No one knows what that phrase means. Come up with a goal that people can actually visualize.

This is sooo true. Marissa needs to grab this opportunity and ride the Yahoo-bull-horn for all it's worth. Ignore investors... Reinvent the entire company that you have stepped up to take charge of.

Don't do what BB's spineless CEO did, and start throwing out quotes like "not much has to change". http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/story/2012-01-22/Blackberr...

Marissa needs to change everyones perspective of what Yahoo was, and what it can be.

Yahoo are still on my shitlist from the whole FB debacle. Mayer has already shown that Yahoo can still be "cool", so reinvent everything that once was the old Yahoo.

</end major rant>


OP here. My issue with that phrase is that it means both nothing and everything. You can justify any product saying that it fits in with the vision of being the 'premium digital media' company. I once made the point internally that pretty much any website on the internet would fit within that umbrella.


Minor rant: "</end major rant>" made me cringe. I suggest "<major-rant>blah blah blah</major-rant>" instead. :p


Is the board changing? Not that I've heard. New CEO's are still beholden to their boards, and from what I can see the yahoo board is out to lunch.


It changed when Thompson was forced out.


Seems like solid advice. I have an honest question, even if it's a quote from Office Space: What is it that Yahoo actually does? I honestly don't know.

I know they have a random collection of services (news, photos, mail), but if they were to disappear tomorrow, would anyone really care?


You, most of the HN crowd, and myself live in a world removed from the real world. I work for a company which sells fancy business cards and print products to dentists who easily spend more than $1000 on one order, and you know what? They usually have an earthlink.net, aol.com, or yahoo.com email address, and nothing in this world is going to make them change that. I tell some customers we can set them up with your own business email FOR FREE, and they simply politely refuse. Yahoo has the eyeballs of people who actually spend money, not people like myself who want free email and who are trained to never click on an ad.


I'm now part of a team working on a new product that just launched (not Google).

Every morning I go in and look at the dashboard, which shows the email addresses of the last 10 new signups. About 6-7 is gmail, 1 yahoo, 1 hotmail. There's usually 1 that's a custom email like from an unknown domain.

I don't have hard stats as I don't have access to the user db, but I've been playing this game for 1+ month every morning, and it's the same pattern all the time. This is for early adopters.

Also, from personal experience, most of my acquaintances, whether technical or not, are migrating from yahoo/hotmail to gmail. It's pretty common for me to have to remove somebody's old yahoo email address from my contacts because they finally got a gmail address.


Generally early adopters tend to be tech people though, which would explain the gmail addresses.


I know, that's why I wrote "This is for early adopters."


Sorry, I misread that you concluded that people must be moving away from hotmail/yahoo from this analysis.


It would interesting if Groupon gave us insights into which email clients their customers use?


I often see small businesses advertising "visit us at www.myexamplebusiness.com or email us at joesbiz23@hotmail.com". I've tried to explain that they can get a myexamplebusiness.com email address without changing current address, but they do not understand why it matters.


Agree hugely on the 'separate world'. Anecdotally, most people I know outside the USA (and quite a few non-tech friends in the states) use yahoo, hotmail, and live.com addresses as well. I think their worldwide marketshare is rather high.


I agree with you but I don't think your comment answers the question -- it answers the second part ("would anyone care if Yahoo disappeared?") but not the first part -- What is Yahoo / what's the Yahoo pitch?

The Yahoo pitch may not be important for people who use Yahoo mail, but it matters to investors, and most of all it matters to recruits. What should Mrs Meyer say to people to make them want to work for Yahoo?


Yahoo produces web software that it gives to customers for free and then sells ads against. They are profitable doing this.

They valley makes fun of them because the valley doesn't value profitable businesses, the valley values consumer craze for a product.


I'm not sure why Yahoo gets beat up so much either. They are profitable and get lambasted while Zynga and Groupon are tech darlings while their stock price plummets and they lose hundreds of millions of dollars. Yahoo gets insulted and asked to go away for suing Facebook, while Apple repeatedly attempts to prevent Samsung from being able to sell devices because of some very flimsy patent objections and people laud them as creative geniuses.


I don't think Zynga and Groupon are tech darlings ...


Maybe Zynga and Groupon were tech darlings?


Well the ZNGA IPO wasn't all that long ago. Just prior to that was the move to the huge amusement park-style office complex in downtown SF. I have friends who work there and are constantly posting pics of the awesome food and all-expense paid trips. These are things employees should get for performing well and making boatloads of cash. If you went purely by appearances, you'd assume ZNGA was one of the most wildly profitable companies on earth as opposed to one that is losing $1.30/share. I for one wouldn't invest a dime in the company when you see how irresponsibly they spend.


It seems to me like the valley values growth, something that yahoo hasn't had much of in recent years.


That's fair, but Yahoo has vast size which arguably is the point of growth.


They've had growth the last 2 quarters.


Your question is not as funny as it sounds. To quote http://money.cnn.com//2012/07/17/technology/yahoo-earnings-m... the market has pretty much dismissed any non-Asian *.yahoo.com properties: "Yahoo's Asian assets are worth $20.5 billion, according to Yahoo's latest financial report: $14 billion for its 40% ownership stake in Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba and $6.5 billion for the company's 35% share of Yahoo Japan. Yahoo's market capitalization currently sits at $19 billion. Ouch."


I am told by sports fans that Yahoo's sports content and fantasy sports leagues are quite good (I have no idea, please don't yell at me if you disagree.)

They also own flickr, which I'm sure you knew.

I am quite certain that people would care if these things, along with their @yahoo.com email addresses disappeared tomorrow. I'm sure you knew this too, because email is central to our online lives at this point.

So okay, you actually do know what yahoo does. What you don't know is their purpose. Google's purpose is to index all the worlds information (and then slap ads on it, but first one, then the other.) Apple's purpose is to make really great products, and then market them so well that people think they're even greater.

So, given what we know yahoo has, what's a consistent product story they could tell that would answer the question that comes up again and again?


Yahoo Fantasy Sports still has a leadership position in its space, which is a $1-2 Billion market for football alone. Anecdotally, it's the default fantasy sports platform for not only my group of friends, but whenever we are running an office pool (NCAA brackets, fantasy football, NFL survivor pool, etc.) since it's by far the fantasy sports platform with the widest adoption (main competitors being ESPN and CBS).


Yeah, yahoo fantasy has good market share, which pisses me off. ESPN has far superior ux.


Google, Yahoo, and Apple's purpose is to maximize shareholder value. Those other things are just marketing fluff. Yahoo could do with some better marketing.


That's an incredibly reductionist view, and I'm so tired of people parroting it over and over again as if it's insightful. I mean, maximize shareholder value how? And how do they continue to maximize shareholder value? And over what period are they maximizing shareholder value? And how do they try find global maxima instead of local maxima? Is your answer to this simply going to be to parrot "maximize shareholder value" again? Not all companies are started with the goal being "to maximize shareholder value." Try pitching that to VCs. Try trying to get a small business loan, telling your bank "ahh yes, I noticed that there are too-few companies maximizing shareholder value, so I'm going to do that."

"Maximize shareholder value" is not a company. A company needs vision, it needs to do something or build something. A company needs profit, and preferably lots of it, yes, but it also needs a guiding philosophy that informs the markets it enters and the ways it enters them. You can call it "marketing fluff", but it's what makes the company what it is. For the best companies, profit is part of the vision, but it does not subsume the vision.

Google and Apple are both very successful companies, but they're both very different. You can deride the difference between them as marketing fluff, but I call it "successfully executing on vision."


  That's an incredibly reductionist view
Now that is a pithy retort I must commit to memory! Ouch.


It's also simply not true at a company like Google where the strong-visioned founders are still in charge.

Maybe with 2nd or 3rd generation leaders Google et al will be maximizing shareholder value for the sake of maximizing shareholder value. But not yet. They're still doing what their founders want them to do.


Technically, Google is maximizing shareholder value, but their major shareholders value stuff beyond mere money. Not intending to detract from your point in any way, I just thought it's an interesting way to approach it.


Of course every company has a "vision statement" on the wall. That doesn't mean it's a real thing that's worth discussing on HN. Even if a tiny percentage of companies truly believe and adhere to it. Google+ certainly isn't anything about "organizing the world's information".


In what way are the social connections between people and the things they share with one another not information? In some sense, that's the most valuable information out there, which is why not having it scared the shit out of Google.


I really hate this sentiment. I think Ray Anderson, founder of Interface has it right: "For those who think business exists to make a profit, I suggest they think again. Business makes a profit to exist. Surely it must exist for some higher, nobler purpose than that."


That's a cute sentiment and there are many small businesses that adhere to it.


Google seems to adhere to it as well. Google's founders (reluctantly) embraced text ads as a way to make the company they wanted to lead profitable so that it could continue to exist. I think modern business loses sight of this idea.


And many large ones. I once worked for somebody who previously had built a $400m company. His notion was that companies should have a purpose, be up to something interesting. "Profit is just permission to continue," was something he said more than once.

The mere pursuit of profit is always fatal in the long term because it's essentially a short-term outlook that leaves you rudderless.

Look at the car industry as an example. Toyota has been consistent in its pursuit of customer value, respect for staff, and waste reduction, with profit coming way down the list of priorities. GM, on the other hand, is where the modern increase-shareholder-value school of management originated. Toyota is now the world's largest car company, and GM would have died without a government bailout.


Yahoo! Finance is considered by many to be the best out there. It would be a net loss to have to switch to e.g. Google Finance.


I used to think Yahoo!'s days are over but it turns out it's hugely popular in Asia (Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan). Search engine wise it's behind Google but it's big when it comes to e-mail, news and all sorts of media content.


This is true, but organisational wise the Asian Yahoo! divisions are not wholly owned by Yahoo! as we know it. Yahoo! Japan for instance is a separately listed company part owned by Softbank. A friend of mine went for an interview at yahoo japan and was told "we don't have much to do with yahoo america so you'll never be sent to work there".

But you're right, it seems like an obvious strength to capitalize on.


I was going to say the same thing. I had a girlfriend from Taiwan studying in Australia who used Yahoo for most of the things she did online (email, search, shopping) and said most of her friends did too. This was in 2007 so things might have changed since then but even in 2007 most westerners thought Yahoo was dead and no one used it.


I have a girlfriend from Singapore and she is still using Yahoo extensively. Plus I discussed search engines with my Japanese teacher and few Asian students and most of them considered Yahoo the most popular website on the Internet.


Interesting, maybe they should have promoted the Asian division head to CEO...


search engine wise, it uses Bing.


tl;dr: there's value in an integrated product that works and is easy to use: just ask Apple.

An 'internet portal' is still very valuable to non-techie users: it provides them a reasonably structured way to access internet services and goods. My email? Here. Stock? There. News? All over the page. Photos? You got it. Chat? Games? Calendar? The weather? Search? As long as it's good enough, it's right there so, sure.

Of course, no future-looking company wants to compete in that market with their own similar product, so until that space gets completely 'disrupted' (what Google tried to with by ripping it to pieces) or 'reinvented' (social networks being the latest incumbent) or completely 'moved' (to a different access model like mobile), many people will continue existing solutions like Yahoo.

We recently released one of our Facebook games on Yahoo. The numbers were not groundbreaking or headline material, but it still surprised us that they were meaningful.


They are good with customers.


Customers of what, exactly? I've not heard of anyone using Yahoo, except those that are holding on to Yahoo email addresses because they don't know it makes them look old and technically illiterate.


I think he was referencing the Office Space comparison and Smykowski defending his job by saying he was good with customers.


I use quite a few of their services, some for legacy reasons. I use Flickr, admin a few mailing lists on Yahoo Groups, and am just in the process of convincing my muscle memory to move over from finance.yahoo.com to finance.google.com.


My guess is that Google Finance and other copycat sites (albeit better sites in some cases) that they have built are not good investments. If it isn't core to them I don't expect them to keep working on them.


He already told you, they are good with the goddamn customers. They have people skills, they are good at dealing with people. Can't you understand that? What the hell is wrong with you?


It's surprising how much traffic they still get. Our year-old iOS game was just mentioned in a roundup of "top 10 difficult games" on a Yahoo! Games blog (and it wasn't even linked properly to the App Store), sending sales from 2 digits to 4 digits/day. We were floored that this happened due to a Yahoo post of all things...


Exactly my feelings. They were a search engine I never used, a mail account which only received spam, some mailing lists which were moved to better open-source solutions, and then a "media portal company" which seemed like it just regurgitated content from other sites.

I like some of the products which have come from Yahoo like their JavaScript libraries and YSlow toolkit. However, there are alternative (and in most cases better) options for those libraries so I don't really know what I need Yahoo to do for me.


I know you're not joking on this, but seriously?

"No more BlackBerries as the official devices at Yahoo."

How is this even possible in 2012?


You have no idea how many flame wars I had with all levels of IT and security folks.


It takes a lot of money and effort to migrate that kind of infrastructure, and as I'm sure everyone has noticed, Yahoo doesn't exactly have tons of money to spare to overhaul something that works just because it's not "cool".

That said, I agree with OP that it should be done, if it's possible. Maybe if you wait until after you lay off 10k employees, you'll have less devices to migrate ;-)


It's not just a question of "cool", it's a question of relevance. A good friend of mine was issued a BlackBerry by her corporate IT department (part of a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical firm). For her it's fine, since she's essentially a sales engineer for big pharma. She doesn't need access to a high end mobile web browser, or any of the other features you'll find on any 'normal' smartphone sold these days.

But, if her job was to build next-generation web-hosted services, her notion of what was possible, normal, and bleeding-edge in the mobile web space would be hopelessly out of sync with the hundreds of millions of Android and iOS users out there.


> if her job was to build next-generation web-hosted services, her notion of what was possible

I'd say anyone in that position really ought to be trying stuff out on multiple mobiles to get a good feel for it, while using the phone of their choice (even if it's a Nokia 3310).


Blackberry has had a webkit browser for two years now...


WebKit does not a great web browser make. It's an excellent foundation, but needs a great platform around it to amount to much.


disclaimer: I am part of the WebKit team at RIM.

RIM does seem to have a marketing problem as it seems most Blackberry users have only ever used the old built in house Java based browser. This is due to the fact that WebKit has only been on the newer devices and you can still get older devices so users that used to have a Blackberry, but have had an iphone for X years probably only experienced the Java browser. If someone gets a modern Blackberry from their IT department the WebKit browser that it comes with is good and can hold its own.


Right, because employees are unaware of any tech trends besides those bestowed upon them by their office IT departments.


According to http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bs?s=YHOO+Balance+Sheet&annua..., Yahoo has $1.5 billion in the bank. I think they can afford it.

For all this talk, everyone forgets that Yahoo is (still) profitable! Unlike Nokia or Blackberry, they have a fighting chance, financially.


Presumably what people want is email and maybe chat on their personal device. Is that it? Clearly you dump Microsoft Exchange servers and the whole poisonous 'back office' cling that brings and what are you left? As an operations guy I hear people tell horror stories about blackberry integration and I'm wondering what it was that they 'got' in order to put up with that pain?


Haha, Exchange. Try Lotus Notes.


I feel very badly for people who have to use Lotus notes


iOS has Exchange integration. Offer a BYOD policy with a $$$-$$$$/year subsidy.


Oh come on - blackberries are a reasonable work phone even still. It handles corporate email and calendars quite well. Works great while travelling. More durable and cheaper than iphones/droids.

As a personal phone they are obviously well behind the curve.


Someone else touched on this, but I'll reiterate. If you're trying to restore a tech company to its former glory as cutting-edge, do you really want your employees using technology that's outdated compared to what an average middle-class couple buys for their teenage daughter?

More importantly, if you're a cutting-edge developer, do you really want to work at a company that's going to treat you like that?


I mean, DOS works fine. Why should software developers need Windows 95 to write code? So what if most of our customers are already on Windows 95?

We're going to innovate! Blow the competition away! Be cutting edge!


Yahoo will have zero chance to reform if their product teams are using Blackberries. They won't have a chance. At all.

It would be like putting them all on dos and expecting them to make websites for the future.

I think this might be the single most important item on the whole list.


Imagine a game company where the official game console of the company is the Atari 2600. Sure, it gets the job done, but to have an official piece of equipment that's vastly different (and markedly inferior) from what your users are using is a huge handicap.

Yahoo is a web company, which means they're a mobile company. Having the official company mobile phone be something that's old and crusty and unpopular is dangerously stupid.


What the hell? You're comparing a Blackberry to something that hasn't been in production for what...decades? Blackberry 9900 came out fairly recently and has a pretty damn good browser experience. I'm not sure why there's so much anti Blackberry sentiment here.

I agree that that it probably shouldn't be official policy to have Blackberries for employees, but if you're going to allow Android and iPhone, you might as well allow Blackberry for those who still want to keep it. It's not like we're talking about an IE6 type of burden here. The BB9900 browser is not crusty at all.


I was using hyperbole to illustrate how a piece of equipment that's good at its nominal job could still be a disastrous choice.

You say the BB9900 has a good browser experience. Pulling it up, I see the typical BB form factor with a half-sized screen and a keyboard. I don't care how objectively good that is, it doesn't match what Yahoo's users are using.

Beyond the browsing experience, apps are becoming more important all the time, and approximately nobody is building BB apps. Anybody at Yahoo using a BB phone, no matter how good or how recent, will get a deeply skewed view of what their users actually experience and expect.


It's about dogfooding your product. Yahoo has traditionally had terrible results with its mobile products. Well, here's one reason why.


For frequent travelers, the several day battery life on BBs is by itself compelling.


I love my 9900, but I have to admit there's no way I'm getting even a single full day out of it with a medium (in my opinion) level of usage.


Ditto - I'm incredibly happy with it, but pretty much any day I'm out of the office there's a good chance that by the time I'm heading home I'll have to call a taxi ahead of time because I know by the time I want it my phone will be asleep.

It's my biggest issue with BBs now, especially when you think about how great they used to be with battery life.


Switch back to 2G. You get all the important bits of the BB experience (email, messaging) and easily 3 days battery life, compared to 1 day on 3G doing the same things. I'm a happy 9900 owner.


Other than when I want to browse a few web pages without waiting ages, when I switch on 3G or wifi, I'm on 2G all the time. It does help a huge amount, but still not enough.

Admittedly I have a twitter client that gets updates regularly, plus three-digit emails a day, plus usually a fair few calls... but still I feel it should last way longer.


I find bluetooth the biggest battery hog - I only switch it on to tether. Have you tried that?


Stopped using a bt headset when I found that too, so yeah I have :(


Sometimes big IT just doesn't want to change what is currently working. RIM may be dying but they're still shipping product. That is how it is possible. But that doesn't make it smart. :)


I'm currently contracting to a large organisation that has Blackberries only, Windows XP and Lotus Notes 7 as their basic worker setup. It is quite painful and is actually a consideration point for me to work elsewhere. And I wonder the inefficiency cost when you multiply this over 10's of thousands of employees.


I was actually going to ask if this is the same company my friend works for, but she was recently given a Windows 7 laptop... ;-)


Some organizations that require the ability to remotely wipe the phone should it be lost/misplaced. It is my understanding that BB is the only one that provides a solid ability to do so.


iPhone has it. If I remember right, this is a requirement of official exchange integration. http://www.apple.com/iphone/business/integration/

There was quite a controversy when people discovered that joining their company's domain gave them the ability to remote wipe the device.


A lot of you keep asking what it is that Yahoo! does, which is a valid question, but you're forgetting about what they own and what they could do with their properties.

If there's one word that ties all of their more popular services together, it's "social". Tons of people still use Yahoo! Games, Y! Messenger, Flickr, Del.icio.us – all incredibly social communities. And Yahoo! Mail is still widely used.

I think their issue is that they lack an underlying framework from which these services should be stemming. With proper structure and integration, they could really give Google and Facebook a run for their money. Google has been trying for ages to utilize their Gmail userbase to bolster their social plays, and it's worked with varying success. Yahoo! has both the email userbase and the social communities; they just need to find a way to tie the two together into a cohesive social platform.


The interesting one on that list (to me at least) is Flickr. Take the cue from Facebook's Instagram purchase - that photos are one of the critical elements of a mature social community that remains active after other elements have slowed. While Flickr is/was great, it's suffered from neglect. Check out this chart from 2011 showing the photo-library size of Flickr compared to Facebook ... and that was before Instagram happened (assuming that deal goes through), so I can only imagine how it would look today:

http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-09-19/tech/30174764...

Photos aren't just an island anymore ... not just something only uploaded when you plug in your camera. They're connected to everything else you're doing ... and your photo library is sourced from a variety of apps uploaded in real-time as you go about your day. To grow Flickr they either need to enhance the community (maybe in the way 500px has done) or transform it in a way that doesn't piss off the people that go there for professional-quality photos while at the same time carving out a space on the site to accept and leverage photos of what someone had for lunch.


If only they knew what they had several years ago! They had IMO the biggest, most comprehensive 'profiles' service on the web, pre-Myspace/Facebook, and they blew it by wiping all profiles and migrating to Yahoo 360 (or whatever it was called), then called that off, wiped the profiles again, and have a new thing called 'Pulse' that nobody uses.


Pulse was replaced. There's a newer Yahoo! Profile (I work close to the guys responsible for it).


They have some social APIs which you might find interesting if you weren't aware of them: http://developer.yahoo.com/social/


> I think their issue is that they lack an underlying framework from which these services should be stemming

This is actually what people mean when they ask "What does Yahoo! do?" When you ask that question of Google, for instance, you notice that all the technical branches can be relatively easily argued as coming back to search, and all the monetary branches come back to ads.


Sadly, they sold Delicious.


Woops – news to me!


Start by fixing Yahoo! Mail. It's become SPAM central, and there's no reason for that. Also, stop charging for POP mail access - is it really worth it? I've been a Yahoo mail user since the 1990's, but if anyone asks me for my email address now, it's gmail. Only because I know my mail that goes there will arrive relatively quickly, and I haven't had my account hacked by spammers ever with gmail. Don't try to make Yahoo mail look like an online version of Outlook, it gets so cramped. An inspiration to start with would be something along the lines of how mail is viewed on the iPad, but available in the same way on the desktop (yes, many people out there, especially long standing yahoo mail users, still use PC's).


Single best quote “We ship code, not slide decks”


“We ship code, not slide decks”

Thousands[1] of middle managers throughout the organization would be out on the street -which is probably a good thing?

[1] At one point Yahoo had 300+ VPs (source http://allthingsd.com/20070928/day-73-the-sleepy-attack-of-t...) , so probably not an exaggeration


"No more pet projects to reinvent what everyone else in the open source world has already built. Fire anyone who uses the words ‘Yahoo scale’ to debate this with you."

I seriously doubt this is going to come naturally to an ex-Googler.


I didn't really like this one. Oh and hey, don't do anything different. You might as well say "Don't create products that behave significantly different than your competition."

They ought to look at some open source projects and find ways to improve and monetize them. Lucene (bah to solr) might be interesting.


Reading this sort of reminds of that moment detailed in the Jobs biography.

Upon Jobs return to Apple, he asks the product managers to present their current product offerings. They're detailing all sorts of minutiae, differing versions to address different sub-markets, yada yada yada. Jobs waves them all off, draws a grid and says they need four products.

It certainly seems that Yahoo could use a moment like that.


My advice? Take the layers of middle managers who have been there for years, give them their gumball machines or espresso makers, offer to buy out a percentage of their long-underwater options, and make them promise to go work somewhere else.

The inertia is so ingrown there the only way is to cut out the "lifers" who were given their incentives in equity and clog up the system with incompetence or resentment.


Another idea would to stop paying sub-par writers to write the articles that appear on the front page. I can't take a company seriously that employs writers who only get read to see what other facts they get wrong or how badly an article is written (I'm looking at you Chris Chase).

Fixing the quality of the articles would surely have me coming back for more. I remember reading a fitness article about "5 myths of fitness" or some stupid title like that. One of them was that "muscle weighs more than fat". They said it was a myth because a pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat...I was just mortified that it was allowed to be published on a site like Yahoo. By that logic bricks and feathers weigh the same because a pound of bricks is the same as a pound of feathers...


I really like and admire #2 Spend $$ in finding great talent all the way down to the front-line product managers and engineers. This will often mean paying some hot-shot 23-year old coder 5x more than what she would make at Google or Facebook and beating ridiculous counter offers. Do it. That one great engineer will be worth more than the five engineers you have on the payroll today.

However I do not know if there is a easy way (a "litmus paper") that could say she is 5x better. In all seriousness, I'd like to ask how to make such a determination. I think this advise looks good on paper, but really really hard to implement.


> However I do not know if there is a easy way (a "litmus paper") that could say she is 5x better.

Quantitatively? Not my area, but you could boil it down to something as simple as "number of features shipped in a quarter." However, I think the real value comes in when you're talking about non quantitative analysis of these coders.

What awesome, innovative products has Yahoo! shipped in the last year?[1] What are they doing to make Yahoo! Mail better than GMail, or to make people stop laughing if you give them an @yahoo.com address? No, registering ymail.com does not count for much.

A single, highly productive programmer that's shipping useful features, inspiring ingenuity within the team, giving back to open source communities and, at a high enough level, giving interesting tech talks at conferences/hackerspaces/etc, can easily be as useful to the company as five average coders. Maybe not 5x as productive, depending on measurement, but definitely that much more useful. Rock stars, when they aren't full of themselves or throwing that term around like little kids, really can make giant differences.

Think about it - would you trade five of your company's management team for Paul Graham? I sure as hell would.

[1] Okay, Hadoop is pretty cool, but even that is based off of Google research.


I realized while reading your comment (and the reply) that I haven't heard of Yahoo acquiring (or acquihiring) anyone in a long time.

Why did a CAD/CAM software company acquire Socialcam? That should've been Yahoo. I think they'd do well to snatch up a bunch of small co's or individuals and make them ridiculous offers that are almost entirely stock-based.

If Yahoo came to me tomorrow and said "we'll pay you a million bucks in two years time, but it's ALL going to be in YHOO shares," I'd:

a) Very seriously consider it, and

b) Do everything in my power to ensure that the stock price goes up.


I worked on video at Apple. While there, I once got a message on LinkedIn from some recruiter for Yahoo's TV widgets.

Here's the thing: That Yahoo even has TV widgets is why I will never talk to them.

If Mayer can shut all that bullshit down and actually do a small handful of things well enough for people like me to consider talking to them, I think she'll be one of the greatest CEOs in technology.

(I realize this post is embarrassingly self aggrandizing, but seriously, what kind of self-respecting engineer works for Yahoo?)


> I realize this post is embarrassingly self aggrandizing,

Yes it is.

> what kind of self-respecting engineer works for Yahoo?

The kind that created Hadoop, YUI, YQL, Yahoo BOSS, etc. etc. I'd be pretty proud to work on any of those projects.


I completely agree with you. Those are all very fine and nice technologies.

But I'm not a back-end engineer and I haven't dealt with web technologies at all. The only one of those things I've ever considered using is Hadoop and I didn't even know Yahoo had anything to do with it. Needless to say, none of those technologies are things I would be working on.

I typically write embedded and high performance C/C++ applications and I specialized in video at the time. I'm not going to jump ship for a position in some also-ran fiefdom in a directionless corporation writing embedded JVM UIs.

And that's the problem. Most people who are good in that niche aren't going to risk it with Yahoo vs some other firm or by starting their own company. Simply put: Yahoo can't win at that game because they can't attract the talent. So why do they even play at it?


First it was no "self-respecting engineer", now it's "embedded C/C++ applications", well I guess Yahoo just isn't for you dude. No biggie. Yahoo has had some great engineering talent well past it's time on top, and still even retains some today. If Facebook can attract talent to work on "Timeline" and "App Center" then I'm pretty sure Yahoo just needs to fix the fucking poisonous culture.


That's where the 'self-respecting' part comes in. If these engineers are so good, why don't they jump ship to Facebook or Google or JP Morgan? There's no way the culture could be any more poisonous, even in investment banking.

The only respectable answer I've heard concerns loss of security of changing jobs when you already own a house in the valley, send your kids to private school, lease a Lexus, etc.


Maybe they enjoy the work they do, despite the poisonous culture. If you put time and effort into something and believe in it, then as a 'self-respecting' person you probably wouldn't jump ship that easy.

YUI makes my life easier.


I think the point here is that the OP (of this comment thread) would likely NOT be working on anything nearly that interesting. Yahoo's bread and butter is generating as many 'destinations' for its content and ad network as possible, and all those other tech projects are just byproducts of that.


Those people worked at Yahoo once. How many of them work there now?

At this point I must know 50 ex-Yahoos, but I don't know a single person there anymore.


What's a TV widget?

Edit: ok this is almost cool http://freetubetv.net/tvwidgets.php/ but it seems like it's taking someone else's content and delivering it to other people? That seems about as productive as https://xkcd.com/1060/


OK, that thing in your edit is awesome.

But it was actually this: http://connectedtv.yahoo.com/

Basically, somebody at Yahoo said 'it's like the app store!' and got the green light to write something nobody cares about.

Later in my life, I actually bought a Samsung TV with Yahoo widgets (not that that was a feature I cared about), and it was an ugly clunky GUI on top of a bunch of applications that didn't really work. Then the UI would freeze. And the app would lose its state, including your position in whatever it was playing. Also, if you turned the TV off, the app would forget everything. And nobody fixed any bugs after the first 3 months because it was an abortion of a project.

So ya, I'd say I dodged a bullet.


exactly.


Yahoo has everything. That's their value add, it's what they do. If you want it, and it's on the internet, then yahoo has it - maybe not the best, but it works, and it's integrated with the rest of yahoo.


Douglas Crockfor?


No, he bailed last May.

But speaking of non-existent Scotsmen, the headliners, or fellows as they'd be called at Sun always stay way longer than the nobodies. I'm talking about the rank and file engineers. What bright young kid would look at an offer from Google/Apple/NVidia/AMD/Intel/AMD/PowerVR/etc. and say 'No, I'm going to Yahoo, I'm really going to be respected there'.



I don't think he's there any longer.


This is such an interesting inside look at Yahoo, which kind of makes it obvious why they've been faltering. But it also means that there are frustrated people there who want to make great products and services, if they can cut through the bureaucracy and the arbitrary rules. (I don't have recent inside information, so I'm extrapolating here.)

There's so much potential here. I'm still very excited to see what Yahoo will become.


Are there really 23 year-olds making $600,000 per year (=5x what I'm told Google pays) at large tech companies writing javascript? Or is that just hyperbole?


I know of a 25 year old who got a 7-digit counter offer from Google when a friend tried to recruit him so I was hoping the 23 year old example wasn't too much hyperbole. Plus, the idea is to pay a big premium over what everyone else pays anyway.


A 7-digit salary, or a 7-digit retention bonus / stock grant / whatever? A 7-digit salary would be absurd (Tim Cook didn't even have a 7-digit salary when he was COO), whereas a 7-digit retention bonus is plausible (and lines up much better with your follow-up comment about a "vesting period").


Wow! Google counter offer numbers always fun to hear. Without the risk of divulging too much info, would you share, if he was a back-end, front-end or mobile app developer?


I mean, I would consider doubling or even 1.5ing a pretty big premium.

That's insane though. It's hard to imagine a single programmer being worth a million dollars a year to a company.


It's hard to imagine a single programmer being worth a million dollars a year to a company.

AdWords is worth, round numbers because I'm lazy, $100 billion a year. One million dollars is 10^-5 times AdWords. Want to make a guesstimate as to how many engineers are associated with 10^-2 improvements in AdWords in a given year?


I'm pretty sure there was a vesting period - it wasn't for one year.


But, but it's actually crazy that they don't. Companies buy startups just for these types of people and pay up front for them (with no solid guarantee that they'll get their money's worth).

Hire someone who you think is a kickass dev for 200/hour and when they stop being worth it, get rid of them. Seems way more economical than the current setup.

But maybe (probably) I'm the one who is crazy.


I've always heard the rule of 1000 when comparing hourly rates to salaries, to take into account taxes and buying your own healthcare and such. 200,000 a year is a much less stratospheric salary for a programmer than 600,000, in my view at least.

Good point regarding team-based acquisitions though.


"Make a huge sign with the phrase ‘the premier digital media company’. Then make a video of you running a bulldozer over it crushing that sign. No one knows what that phrase means."

No one knows what that phrase means because no one knows what the hell Yahoo! does anymore. Honestly, why does this company exist? What purpose do they serve? What is their focus? Hire the brightest engineers to build what?? Yahoo! should have died a long time ago. It's just riding a dwindling wave of its past glory.


But it's a profitable business, why should it have died?


If all you want from an investment, or a buisness partner, is a predictable return, then that's fine. However, yahoo is in an industry experiencing explosive growth and doesnt have a lot to show for it (lately).

Yahoo's history is riddled with failures to predict where things are going or failure to react correctly to when they do see. Consider that Instagram has taken off in an area Flickr has been in since before Instagram existed. The list goes on.

People are frustrated when they see a buisness that has the money and background to do great stuff and consistantly fails to deliver. There are many mature tech buisnesses that deliver profits and new product successes (IBM, Google, Intel, etc). Why invest with yahoo?

Put another way: if yahoo wants to coast on their current base, they should stop trying to expand. Otherwise they need to start seeing some ROI.


Yahoo has fantastic loyal customers. It also has niche consumer businesses - finance, weather, groups, mail. These are very big niches. However, precisely because Yahoo is a conglomerate of diverse businesses, it has been difficult to describe Yahoo. Yahoo is a portfolio company.

However, Yahoo isn't a credible platform company. Microsoft is. Google is. Apple is.

While Yahoo open sources a lot of its internal components, heck, it was one of the earliest adopters of OpenID - my StackOverflow account still uses my Yahoo login - this is not the same as building a platform. Android is a platform. Google apps is a platform. AWS is a platform. Even AdSesnse is a platform. Twitter is a platform.

Here's my outline:

1. Yahoo needs to protect their base. Customers might move away from Yahoo mail when eventually people get their own domain names, or when they want to edit documents online on Google Docs. Yahoo should court the small businesses who already use Yahoo to spend more money with them.

2. Yahoo needs to aggressive court developers to leverage Yahoo signins, Yahoo mail to provide new services. If Yahoo would handle the payments, it would be even better. A 30% cut would make Yahoo a great affiliate for many devs trying to get traction.

3. On the Ad front, there is much Yahoo can do to copy Google in terms of display ad networks - once Yahoo has successfully courted smaller businesses.


> 8. Make a table with the columns ‘Invest’, ‘Maintenance Mode’, ‘Kill’ and fill it up with Yahoo’s product portfolio. Share it with the employees and the press so everyone finds out from you rather than AllThingsD as to what your priorities are. Favor the kill column whenever in doubt.

Or maybe let the employees vote on it. Collectively, they probably have a much better idea than Marissa Mayer (or any one person) which products are dogs and which are going somewhere.


This will either lead to the products currently employing the most staff being kept, or some bizarre Eurovision-style vote trading phenomenon.


I would be totally ok with a Yahoo reality tv show where the teams sell the world on their progress and vision we get to vote on what gets kept and what gets killed.


I'd prefer to see which products they kill based on data rather than just votes by employees.


Employees have plenty of insight, but they also have a lot of biases. Like not getting fired. And part of Yahoo's problem is that they have a lot of people who are totally out of touch, so I'm not sure voting will work.

A better way to extract information might be a prediction market: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prediction_market


11. Ignore all unsolicited advice that doesn't include the words "customer" or "user".


12. Ignore #11 because it's dismissive and ignorant of the important components required to run a company that aren't directly related to customers or users.

Really. The author is a former Y! employee who's experienced firsthand what he thinks are a lot of the reasons behind the company's decline, and you step in with a snarky one-liner that basically says everything he's written is invalid.


Normally I'd agree with you, however I think OP has a good (implied) point that the underlying structures and culture need serious overhaul before any real product work can be done.


Yup. I'm hoping by hiring the best engineers/designers/etc and putting together great product teams, you implicitly get people who care about users.


"Recently exited a short stint" - That seems like one step above "Stayed in a Holiday Inn last night" but not really enough to do more than give us a superficial insight into the issues.


"A Yahoo app on every home screen" sounds like a pretty user-oriented goal, regardless of the words it uses.


Actually, one of the conflicts I felt while I was at yahoo related to the fact that the customers aren't the same people as the users. "Customers" at yahoo are the advertisers, and they're the ones who generate the revenue. "Users" are just the eyeballs looking at the ads. When business is good, there's little conflict, which is why this isn't a big deal for Facebook or google. But when business falters, advertisers start making demands that ultimately compromise the user experience. Bigger, more prominent ads make the customers happy, and may generate more short-term revenue, but they ultimately drive users away. I feel like yahoo is in the middle of this right now, and I'm not sure what they can do to appeal to their users and their customers simultaneously.


The best one:

Make a huge sign with the phrase ‘the premier digital media company’. Then make a video of you running a bulldozer over it crushing that sign.

Yes, Yahoo, you're not a media company, you're a technology company. You don't want to be a media company. Media companies make shitty profits (see AOL, Time Warner, NBC), technology companies make amazing profits (see Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple).


12. Hire sriramk as VP Engineering.


Jeff Atwood already tweeted that I should be made CEO so I'm not particularly inclined to demote myself. ;)


First things first. Figure out "what is Yahoo!" immediately.

Remember Carol Bartz? http://techcrunch.com/2010/05/28/ok-seriously-what-is-yahoo/


I suspect people will disagree but my top two would be: 1. Yahoo is not Google and that's o.k 2. Take the time to understand Yahoo before doing anything drastic.


PS - Bring back Yahoo's SoMa billboard! Let people know that someone has turned the lights back on at Yahoo. (literally and figuratively) :D


They have so much value in the products, yet they aren't even being developed.

I can see Yahoo Answers being a far bigger brand, News could be important as well as Flickr if as you said they actually develop it. Any products that aren't being improved after a certain amount of time should be killed.


I agree. Yahoo Answers has huge potential to be a StackExchange for the masses.


Love this part - Marc Andreessen thinks you need to fire over 10K people. He’s probably right. I would start with anyone with the title ‘Architect’ or ‘Program Manager’ in their title. HR is probably another good place to look too


To all those asking "What is Yahoo?" ad nauseum, can you answer the corresponding question, "What is Google?" ? And once you've done that, tell us how G+, Picasa, GAE, GDrive, GMaps, Android, etc. fit into this definition?

Thanks!


Er, I thought it was pretty well known that Google is an ad company.

G+ = Consumer profiling

Picasa = Get people sharing their photos on G+ (Now with tagging!) so that they can be profiled

GMail = Consumer profiling

GDrive = cannot tell since they insist on showing the pages in Japanese despite my browser telling them otherwise. But I wouldn't be surprised if they analysed your files for profiling (cannot read the japanese TOS to tell.)

GMaps = Location based advertising, consumer profiling

Android = Muscle in on mobile advertising and consumer profiling

Almost every one of their services can be tied back to "How can we improve our profiling of consumers so that our ad-networks are more effective"


Q: "What is Google?" A: Relevant.


And for god's sake kill Connected Life. The fact that product teams aren't allowed to own the mobile app that goes with their products was just Marco's bullshit empire building, not a good organizational idea.


Maybe they can just fix Yahoo! Mail? Less spam. Better API. If is not like Gmail become better over last 5 years.


It will be interesting to see if Mayer leads Yahoo in the direction of a "Mini-Google" or an "Anti-Google".


What advice? The new CEO will deliver in any case, Yahoo!

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