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In Week Two, Marissa Mayer Googifies Yahoo (allthingsd.com)
223 points by drgath on July 29, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 145 comments

One strategy for Yahoo:

Turn Google's strengths into weaknesses by opening up all of Yahoo's products (Search, Mail, Finance, Maps, Sports, News) to developers to be maximally programmable. Allow developers to monetize in any way they feel like (aside from fraud) and let them link together apps in creative mashups. This links together YQL, Yahoo Pipes, YUI, BOSS, and several other existing Yahoo technologies into Yahoo as the platform for the Open Web.

If Marissa wanted to really push hard on this: buy Blekko, take a big stake in Github, buy Mozilla, and possibly buy Meteor and/or DerbyJS. That gives you a tech stack which is pretty strong in search, best of class among developers, pretty strong in browsers, and the future of web development. Then let developers knit the pieces together and give them contractual terms which stipulate you won't go up the stack at them like Facebook, Apple, and Twitter did if their apps are successful.

Basically, if Apple represents ultimate centralization and Google is somewhat open, turn Yahoo into the ultra open, monetizable platform for the web. They have the traffic, they could make this a very attractive proposition for developers.

Turn Google's strengths into weaknesses by opening up all of Yahoo's products (Search, Mail, Finance, Maps, Sports, News) to developers to be maximally programmable.

This sounds great, in a handwavy way. In practice though I'd like to hear specifics about what Yahoo could/would offer that Google doesn't already?

Search: https://developers.google.com/custom-search/v1/overview

Mail: https://developers.google.com/google-apps/gmail/

Maps: Seriously? I'm not even going to bother linking to the Google Maps API

Google doesn't have great developer stories in Finance, Sports or News. I guess there are some opportunities there, but exactly what they are isn't obvious.

Anyway, isn't this whole strategy what Yahoo tried in the 2006-09 timeframe? It failed then (mostly by failing to bring in revenue) - why would it be different now?

> Maps: Seriously? I'm not even going to bother linking to the Google Maps API

There is a reason many have transitioned to OSM based data and tile hosting services: price. The Google Maps API is no longer the "no-brainer" that it once was among developers.

Google charges the most for maps because they have the best service.

And generally speaking, I don't think competing on price is a great strategy for turning the company around. The OSM map services will have a big price advantage because all of their data is free, even though it's not as good as Google's. And if Yahoo enhances the data, or gets their own data and tries to charge a premium, then they're back to where they are now trying to compete with Google...

I'm not saying they can't make a better service for cheaper, but their focus should be on making a great map service, not on cutting the price.

Google drastically cut back on the price increase. It isn't so bad anymore.

To clarify, here's my thoughts:

0) Embed apps on the frontend: The APIs you mention are good, but they are backend APIs or APIs for customizing (say) maps within a widget on your site. I'm talking about opening up the frontend too. A prosaic way of thinking about it is an App Store for each large Yahoo subdomain, starting with search.yahoo.com but ultimately allowing very deep apps that pull from many Yahoo properties. Importantly, app installation buttons should be heavily but tastefully promoted: every relevant URL, map result, or email from an app provider should allow a one-click install with ID and billing optionally from Yahoo.

1) Concrete example: suppose Yahoo allowed website proprietors to embed a widget to the right of search results that linked to them. The widget would display if it met the performance and load requirements of Yahoo Search, and not if it didn't. Given that Yahoo is now powered by Bing, this could be a Windows Phone tile sort of thing. Visualize a minified version of what you'd click on the website to see. Facebook could show your last 5 messages, Mint your last few payments, and so on. Basically, take microformats to the next level and allow site proprietors to create their own onebox experiences.

2) Data: In addition to opening up apps, take every piece of data that Google never made open for fear of giving away a proprietary advantage and throw open the doors with an aggressively priced data.yahoo.com API, both to monetize and to differentiate against Google.

3) Re: Yahoo's open stuff in the 2006-2009 timeframe -- that was grassroots and built by engineers, never really pushed by their leadership as the future.

4) The Y Prizes: One other thought is that if this open strategy works, Yahoo could announce an acquisition tournament for each hot new closed web property. All the Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Quora, and Pinterest clones would register for a three month competition to build an API to Yahoo's spec, with the winner being acquired for a fixed up front cost of say $10M. Cheap for Yahoo, life changing for the 5 man dev teams that would arise for a shot at this prize. These Y Prizes would allow Yahoo to stay ahead of the curve on new stuff without trying to do everything themselves.

5) Moral high ground: Yahoo as the platform for the Open Web would give them the moral high ground and goodwill to pick (and win) a bunch of fights. Always punch up.

0) Embed apps on the frontend: The APIs you mention are good, but they are backend APIs or APIs for customizing (say) maps within a widget on your site. I'm talking about opening up the frontend too. A prosaic way of thinking about it is an App Store for each large Yahoo subdomain, starting with search.yahoo.com but ultimately allowing very deep apps that pull from many Yahoo properties. Importantly, app installation buttons should be heavily but tastefully promoted: every relevant URL, map result, or email from an app provider should allow a one-click install with ID and billing optionally from Yahoo.

Read that GMail API again - it is designed to do exactly what you are proposing. The section you need to read is https://developers.google.com/google-apps/gmail/#gadgets

Both Yahoo & Google tried this previously with OpenSocial. It bombed badly.

Well, if you've tried making a Gmail gadget, it involves unnecessary XML wrangling, many separate pages of documentation, and is nowhere near as simple as it could be. Stripe/Square vs. Paypal show how a good API can transform a category.

Moreover Gmail Gadgets are not heavily promoted nor a profit center for Google, so they are an afterthought. As indirect proof of this, when pg had that recent thread on fixing email, had the Gmail API (+ Gadgets) been a strong API for working with email, people would have brought that up as the obvious solution.

As for OpenSocial, that seemed to me to be big companies banding against Facebook, not actually opening up the web. But we can agree to disagree here.

This would make a bunch of SEOs of my acquaintance absolutely giddy, because you could use e.g. Yahoo keyword data or the proprietary financial data which is just maddening to get one's hand on to create arbitrarily large data-heavy sites... to rank in Google.

The reason why that data isn't freely available probably has to do with the fact that it's proprietary.

Huh. You might be on to something there. "Champions of the open web" is a big niche that's empty right now, largely because of Google's failure to occupy it – an unforced error in my opinion. Yahoo under Marissa could seize that position. It could turn them from uncool to cool and win them a lot of good will among hackers very quickly. I'd be surprised but delighted if she did this.

How is that supposed to make money?

I don't see the connection you're making with GitHub.

Whatever it may be, I'd prefer if Yahoo stays away. I'm against it enough that I would move my paid GitHub account to BitBucket.

I understand they're trying to change their reputation, but I still remember how they killed Delicious and see how they've let Flickr bit rot.

Let them practice not killing the software they buy before they buy another service I use.

Re: Github, it'd be pretty interesting to allow one click deploys from github.com to a Yahoo app or widget. Millions of engineers would also see the Yahoo logo all day long.

Yes, please. I used Delicious but never liked it, it was merely closest to what I wanted.

Now I use pinboard, and I mostly like it.

I actually like Firefox, so please, leave it alone.


Mozilla and Yahoo would make a good strategy, considering Google/Mozilla relationship has cooled in recent years.

I like your Github/Meteor suggestion as well, albeit unlikely that either of those companies would take money or influence from Yahoo.

Also don't think Marissa Mayer has the vision for these sort of changes, although hope I'm wrong on this.

Yahoo already has a real-time javascript framework of its own: http://developer.yahoo.com/cocktails/mojito/


The point was more about mindshare and not just tech.

"X has an image problem." where X can be any tech from an uncool company, even if it is fundamentally decent.

I understand your point, but mindshare can be difficult to evaluate. Do you actually know how popular Mojito is? I certainly have noticed the popularity of Meteor - and unpopularity of Mojito - on HN, but how does that translate to the general population of developers?

Indeed. Sentiment analysis is a problem. I think there are some companies working.

It is a real phenomenon, but just hard to access empirical quantified data at the moment.

As a quick measure I use things like Google Insights, compete.com, Github presence / stats etc.

For the record, Mozilla is a 501(c)(3).

501(c)(3)s can be sold to for-profits. It's just a little complicated as an appropriate recipient for the purchase $$$ needs to be found among other things.

That is the Mozilla Foundation. There is also the for-profit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mozilla_Corporation

...which is owned by the Foundation. I doubt the Foundation will hand it over.

"The Mozilla Corporation was established on August 3, 2005 to handle the revenue-related operations of the Mozilla Foundation. As a non-profit, the Mozilla Foundation is limited in terms of the types and amounts of revenue."

The for-profit Mozilla Corporation only exists for tax purposes, and is wholly owned and controlled by the non-profit Mozilla Foundation.

Maybe just try and get actively involved in Mozilla.

This seems like a good strategy. I've long thought Google should buy Github (assuming they would sell).

Free food is a big idea. As a one time Yahoo, I was shocked. This shows to me that Mayer is going to be different. I am not sure if every CEO previous to her had this choice, but none of them did it. It either proves that the board has given her a lot of leeway, or all the others have been weak kneed.

Seriously, food is a big deal, someone at my orientation asked a VP why we didn't get free food. She answered by explaining that the only people who liked the free food were the employees, and that share holders didn't like the free food, and that we work for the shareholders. With that everyone clapped. I remembered at the time that free food sounded good, especially because I was about the become a Yahoo employee.

So, I hope this is like the Canary in the coal mine, but in reverse.

Wow, what an awful, awful answer that was from the VP.

The shareholders probably didn't like her salary either, did it get cut?

that's the worst possible answer the VP could have made. this comment alone would be enough reason to quit any job.

employees work for the company. every company has a goal. employees work (hard) to push the company to reach that goal. shareholders invest in that goal. it's the goal that matters, not the shareholders monetary desires.

said that, i dont know if Y! has any goals.

Looks like Marissa has learned the lesson told by Steve Blank in his famous essay, the elves leave middle earth


It has bought her time with the engineers while she decides what to do.

great point made in the comments:

> But the point is that great engineers DON'T fight, they just move on. They aren't in the business of fixing companies, so they feel that anything that gets in the way of them creating is a huge waste of their time

i've definitely seen companies where management expected individual engineers to come forward and "fight for their rights" if they had a problem - if bob was slightly more willing to address things and noted that tom, dick and harry were unhappy with the new changes, the response would be "well, then, why haven't i heard anything from them about it?", and bob would thereafter be seen as a bit of a troublemaker. mind you, no one thought that tom, dick and harry were happy, just that they were undoubtedly willing to believe what the ceo said about "everyone having to make sacrifices" if someone like bob didn't come along and stir things up.

I love this comment on the @sgblank post:

When I started at mindspring as a startup (a dial up company) there were some very interesting rules.

1. Drug testing policy. If you have drugs we will test them.

Classic stuff. That's the kind of culture I want to build at Fogbeam Labs when we get to the point of having employees. I like to say "let's be the Mötley Crüe of software companies." Hard partying, hard fighting, and ass kicking, that's the stuff we're going for - well, along with great software, world-class UX, and better integration of enterprise software than you can get anywhere else.

I wish you success in that endeavour. The danger is that you might try to be "the Mötley Crüe of software companies" but end up being seen as "the Winger of web apps". I just had some Beavis and Butthead flashbacks when I read your post ;)

Hey, I like Winger!!! :-)

I think it's obvious that Yahoo! needs some serious internal "disruption." I think the biggest thing they need is relevance. Incremental improvements to their search, email, etc I don't think will matter. If Yahoo's search started being 5% better than Google, by whatever metric you prefer, would anyone really care? I would still use Google. I think in many consumer's view, and even probably many of us, we have all just been wondering when this all Yahoo! thing was going to end, whether was from a buyout by MS or whatever. They need some kind of breakout product, surely they know this but we've been waiting for awhile now. Honestly, I think it's got to be something more than just acquisition. Honestly, just now I visited yahoo.com, (not yahoo answers or any of that, the homepage), I haven't done that in years. I'll say this, it's a strange place.

I'll sum it up for you in one sentence: Marissa Mayer needs to figure out what Yahoo! is supposed to be good at.

Right now Yahoo! isn't remarkably good at anything.

Just to name a few: on the consumer side, Yahoo! is remarkably good at Sports including Fantasy Football and Baseball, and on the technical side it's remarkably good at Hadoop.

It does an okay job with Hadoop. Parts of Hadoop are good (Zookeeper) and parts of it are well short of the mark (HDFS) and ought to have had more effort behind it years ago.

> Incremental improvements to their search, email, etc I don't think will matter. If Yahoo's search started being 5% better than Google, by whatever metric you prefer, would anyone really care? I would still use Google.

Yup, that's the issue. I actually tried Bing on a search this week - I was pretty surprised to see it returned better results, faster, than Google. But I still use Google like everyone else. Google owns that market, like Microsoft owns the desktop.

> They need some kind of breakout product

I hope Marissa already had a plan for what that would be before starting. Without such a product, I doubt Yahoo will survive.

Bing is still missing some ridiculously elementary features, like Google's "Past week" / "Past 24 hours" / "Past hour" menu. When I look up an error message, I don't want to see what caused it 3 years ago in an obsolete version of my OS.

This is great. You need to start with foundational changes that positively impact the culture and morale of the staff. Providing free food is a good basic that should happen.

There needs to be a revitalization of the Yahoo staff if there is to be any success.

Then you take those thousands of reinspirired/invigorated people and point them at a problem.

Finding the right problem though is, well, the problem.

Personally, I have said several times here on HN that Yahoo should take YCombinator as their new directional model.

They should be seeking to foster startups in the valley VERY aggressively. Invest, incubate, incorporate.

Take the growth of the startup communities and incorporate their innovations into the Yahoo brand...

Ah, yes, the new Caesar is throwing bread to the plebeians to silence the restless. What I am wondering is when she is going to start feeding the top two tiers of management to the lions. After all, the shareholders need calming as well.

Tick tock, tick-tock.

At this point, in the year 2012, isn't this just called modern? Sure a decade ago google was the only one doing this. However, aren't most startups/competitive tech companies in the bay area offering free food?

If Yahoo wants to compete for talent against the SF startups, facebook, google, etc. It seems like this isn't googley, its just part of the modern benefit package.

A lot of companies don't provide free food, Apple, and Nest to name a couple.

Talent won't be attracted by free food, but what it will do is cause the morale to change. People already working there will start getting excited about these new changes. Things become a little more fun. When your employees have a higher morale, they feel better about working harder, and they become more proud about what they're working on.

The new all-hands meetings will be key in that strategy. A good CEO and a great CEO can tell you the vision of the company and why it will succeed. But only a great CEO can make his or her employees feel inspired to do better work after those talks.

The first signs that Yahoo is turning around will be seen on the streets of San Francisco and Sunnyvale. When yahoo hoodies and tshirts are being displayed as frequently as you see Google of Facebook swag, if the employees start showing they are _really_ proud of the company they work for, that will signal the earliest changes in Yahoo.

Edit: spelling

All hands meetings are morale boosting when they feature Oprah style handouts of fancy schwag. Business status reports, meh.

You are so wrong about this. Twitter copies google model and does this and it is amazing to have such communication.

Sorry, but the people who only get excited with fancy hand outs won't be at Yahoo much longer if Marissa does her job right.

She needs people who want to work long hours, and/or weekends. That kind of work ethic doesn't come from handouts, it comes from inspiring people around you to build something really awesome.

i dispise company cultures that encourage you to "want to work long hours, and/or weekends". if thats the (unspoken) goal of these culture changes, then you will end up with a bunch of burned out "friday night major release" staffers.

it's about cutting the crap, getting rid of balast and setting the right priorities, not about "long hours".

That's fine, not everyone can live that kind of life. There are a few engineers, however, who do want to put in the extra hours to build something awesome.

The thing is, for that to be successful you will never be asked directly to work long hours. If you've never experienced that, it's impossible for me to explain it to you. It's just a desire you get when you work around really talented people who are equally dedicated.

i worked 60 hour weeks and sometimes 80 hour weeks, sometimes for companies in start up mode, some established market leader companies, sometimes i slept below the desk, sometimes i didn't sleep at all, for some i had (phantom)shares, for some i didn't (i get around a lot).

sometimes long hours are necessary, 95% of the time they aren't.

working 60 hour or more is a problem, never a solution. constantly working long hours leads to lousy decisions and to a lack of priorities (and a lack of priorities are the reason for another round of long hours).

one of the best CTOs i ever worked for was confronted with a lot of friday evening major releases, which more often than not lead to him loosing his weekends. he created a new policy that the last release would be thursday morning. code quality, bug occurrences an work/life balance improved significantly.

None of this is about the food. It never has or will be.

It's all about being appreciated, acknowledged and respected.

> Better search!

Yahoo was known for collating links, while Google had a killer algorithm.

But Google's drive to make the algorithm work all the time for everybody is causing some discontent. Power users are disappointed at (for example) the loss of +, and don't like the weird word substitutions and stemming that Google has introduced. And naive users are confused by overwhelming choice. They don't know the difference between the various sponsored links; they have no idea what a domain is so they aren't going to know if they're going to a trustworthy site or to scumbags.

Imagine how nice it would be if you entered your programming specific terms into a search engine and got carefully selected links back.

I don't know if free food is going to get that, but it's worth a try.

EDIT: I've just visited the Yahoo page for the first time in many years. It is laughably hideous. Sorry for any Yahooers, but this version is even uglier than the 199x page (black on silver?).

A lot of the changes listed in this article are as the title suggests "Googley". I am not that surprised by these actions though. It's easy to get used to the free food and the Friday meetings and then miss them elsewhere.

That said, if I was working at one of Yahoo's remote offices, I'd feel pretty left out of the free food / etc. Do HQ Engineers work any harder than the others?)

Well, who's to say they even have the facilities or personnel for free food at other locations? If it's an office with a break room it probably isn't set up to serve hundreds of meals a day.

Whoa, did she really write off employees outside of HQ? Even Google feeds the plebes outside the Garden of Eden.

Yahoo gave up on being a technology leader when they killed their own search. If I was Mayer I would buy DuckDuckGo and say fuck it, we're taking on Google.

Isn't DDG just Bing w/ some logic to bump up anything that shows up in various authoritative sites like Wikipedia?

Yahoo already uses Bing.

yes, there's a lot of misconceptions here on hn about what DDG actually is. Indexing the web, now, is beyond the capabilities and budget of individuals, you need the resources and backing of a company like google, ibm or microsoft to do so. DDG is federated search, not a search engine. While they might crawl a few sites, it's Bing that you're seeing in the result, the work of Microsoft engineers (along with any remaining PowerSet guys.)

Gabriel seems to enjoy encouraging the misconception that DDG is a search engine.

From a thread on DDG's community site DDG uses Yahoo Boss (not sure if that's Bing powered now) but I would bet anything it can fall over to Bing without too many issues. It came up during a discussion of the new Bing pricing which should come into affect in 2 days or so. DDG does crawl some things directly as well (DuckDuckBot) but its nowhere close to the scope of Bing/Google. DDG also does meta searchs using API's such has,




The top zero click result is from other sources on the web (disclosure the last one comes from my site).

The only search engine I have found which gets close to this is VerticalSet although with the new Bing pricing I am not sure how long it will exist for now.

I know that YC has a stake in the Duck and pardon my ignorance but what is so "racketish-science" here in DDG that Marissa and bunch of Google engineers couldn't come up with on their own terms, without having to reach out to Y! wallet?

I don't know if buying DDG would be a good investment.

Yahoo! had a great search engine to begin with. There wasn't anything wrong with it, really. I think Yahoo! just got a bit carried away with the UI aspect of it.

DDG prides itself on privacy and no tracking while giving good results. I don't think Yahoo! would be interested in keeping that tradition.

Though, I could be wrong, of course.

edit: was supposed to reply to the other guy... oops.. message still stands.

Scheme is racket science.

DDG is just a skinned version of Bing. But surely you knew that, right, since you're offering advice to people?

It has crawling as well, just currently it is falling back to Bing outside of its core competencies.

Yahoo! gave up on being a technology leader long before search imploded on them and they were forced to give it up. They gave up on that in a very definitive way when a clueless board chose Terry Semel to run the company in the belief that they were a "media company".

I thought DuckDuckGo relies on Bing for searching?

Amongst others, Blekko also provides results for them on occasion (disclaimer I work for Blekko)

Isn't Blekko also powered by Bing? It had the same result for hiybbprqag.

Actually no, we've got our own multi-billion page index, however we do farm out the long tail stuff (like hiybbpraqag :-). At some point I should get a blog post up about modern web indexes, its really fascinating to look at the relevance curves of the first few billion pages out to the first trillion page mark.

> hiybbpraqag

That just gets farmed out to google ;)

There's not been a good simple general directory since yahoo stopped being one. Search is one thing, structured reference is different. Though it is a much more difficult problem now and would need a completely different approach to achieve it.

The Y! Directory is still alive @ http://dir.yahoo.com/. Also, the Open Directory Project has been around for years and years, http://www.dmoz.org/. A few clicks around reminds me why directories were made obsolete.

A few clicks around just makes me wonder why no-one has presented the data any better.

Why would you want one?

The Internet has become too big for a Table of Contents to make any sense anymore.

The universe is much bigger than the internet and reference encyclopedias are still useful and popular.

You are talking about our knowledge of the universe. Our knowledge of the universe is a lot smaller than the entire contents of the Internet (sad, but ultimately true).

There is a reason why directories died and search took their place. Directories, in the form we know them, do not scale. There are far more people who would work to fill them with junk than there are people who would work to create order from chaos.

And then there's the question of how you remain objective.

And isn't Wikipedia really the answer to what you want? If you want a directory of ... well, not the Internet, but at least of our knowledge? It may not primarily be a link farm, but it usually provides a good starting point for most topics.

Wikipedia fails to link to a lot great in-depth sources of content that don't provide useful encyclopedia citations. For example, great forums on a particular topic that is not a provider of any coated fact.

If directories are really useful and people want/need them, why has the Open Directory Project stranded? Why doesn't anyone use it? Why doesn't anyone talk about it? And if people do not like that particular project, why has there been no spinoffs, no copycats, no startups to do Directory 2.0?

It is right here: http://www.dmoz.org/ and unfortunately it is a ghetto.

Wikipedia might not work as a direct replacement for directory services, but when it comes to helping you acquire knowledge, I think it does a better job. Even when the articles you find are sparse because they might help you formulate better queries to stuff into The Google.

It sounds good. This may give her the moral authority to make less popular changes down the track - she's signalling that she wants to make the place like Google, which will make the troops more sympathetic to anything she does.

So given all the hubbub lately I decided to visit Yahoo.com for the first time in years. I'm not really Yahoo's target audience, but my second-first impressions are:

- That little "Make Yahoo! your homepage" thing that slides down and moves the rest of the content with it has got to go (especially considering there's a "Make Y! your homepage" link RIGHT below it).

- Clicking on the dot in the exclamation point still does the "Yahoo!" jingle, which is nice, but I don't like the new jingle. It's too polished. Old one was better.

- The actual search bar is a bit heavy and "2005 Web 2.0" looking, but I suppose it needs to be a little chunky to stand out from everything else on the page (and there's a lot).

- Overall, I like the color scheme and design, but it still feels a bit "heavy". The fact that there's SO MUCH STUFF on the front page suggests that this real estate is a design-by-committee thing and that politics is heavily involved. There's so much stuff and it's packed so tightly together that I really can't decide what I want to look at.

- The Olympics banner is neat.

- The top news rotator is OK, but it's a little clumsy.

- The subsections, like Yahoo! News and Yahoo! TV, feel too different from each other and too different from the main site.

- Speaking of target audience, the "Trending Now" section is neat, but I'm not sure I like what it's saying. Between that, the "Must-See Videos on Yahoo!", and the "Most Popular" section below it, I get the feeling that I just stepped into a middle-class hair salon. I'm not trying to be elitist, it's just that this site really seems to scream "late 30-something suburbian white woman with a minivan" in a way that most other sites don't, so I don't feel very welcome here. Shouldn't the front page to one of the world's most recognized online brands start out a little more neutral and slowly BECOME about whatever it is you're usually interested in? ArsTechnica does a good job of this, building up a "Your Stories" section based on stuff you've clicked on an (presumably) how long you stuck around after you clicked.

- A little more nitpicky, but I think it's another indication of Yahoo!'s most prime real-estate being driven by corporate politics and ladder-climbing (because I'm going to give the page designer a benefit of the doubt): take a look at all the section headings. You have "YAHOO! SITES", "TRENDING NOW", "MUST-SEE VIDEOS ON YAHOO!", "MOST POPULAR", "POLL", "FAVORITES". There doesn't seem to be much consistency in the color or font size with these.

- So, yeah, "Favorites". How come I just NOW (within the last 30 seconds) found that? It's way below the fold of the sites list. Aren't my favorites kind of important? Shouldn't they be above "Yahoo! Sites"? And why are they already populated? Yahoo! on FB, Yahoo! on Twitter? How are those my favorites? I never told you I liked those... These are the kind of things that make it a little TOO obvious that I, humble visitor, am the product being sold.

- The bottom footer (no, not the real footer, the footer above that) seems redundant. "More Yahoo! Sites" contains only slightly different content than the "Yahoo! Site" area, and there's already a way from right there to see more. If you want to promote new or underperforming sub-sites, why not try a sites recommendation engine based on the stuff you've visited? Follow Yahoo could be placed elsewhere, and the "About Yahoo" stuff can certainly be combined and replace the "About our Ads" thing on the real footer.

- When performing an actual search, the results aren't too bad (they're powered by Bing, which isn't wonderful but it isn't terrible either). In fact, the search listings are a lot less cluttered than what Google's results have become.... it's almost refreshing.

Would you look at that?

A "neat this, neat that, not too bad" review of a Yahoo homepage even though it's the exact same kaka as it was two weeks ago. Who would've thought that getting a notable ex-Googler on board would have a such immediate effect on swaying geeks in a pro-Yahoo direction?


Of_Prometheus, you are hell-banned starting from this comment - http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4268365

I doubt he'd get hell-banned for that. Maybe he deleted it? Or a dup account? But it doesn't seem like spammer activity so I'm guessing not.

I wrote up some similar points and posted the trimmed down version a moment afterward. I'll reply instead, and try to avoid bashing the design since you've got that covered. Instead I want to discuss focus. Being neck-deep in Startuplandia, I'm accustomed to discussing smaller companies who are striving, struggling even, to achieve success with a singular focus.

Do one thing, do it well. You won't gain users doing several things poorly. Or in Yahoo's case, you will hemorrhage the users you once had.

I understand that large companies do have the resources to delve into many spheres and markets at once. I also grasp how each additional product/focus can leverage your brand recognition and existing userbase for alternative revenue streams. Even if only 10% of my users pay for [New Feature X], that's still money in the bank! At the same time, when I think of Yahoo, three things come to mind: Email, Search and Content (so-called).

The first two aren't anything Yahoo is the name for anymore and the last one is ludicrously expansive. News, fine. Original web series videos, eh, maybe? But look at the first three items on their list. Autos, Dating (?!) and Finance. Yes I know it's alphabetical, but it's a sign that they still think they can be "The Homepage of the Internet" or some such madness.

This may be the point where Yahoo has to get its hands out of some of those cookie jars and focus on doing less, better. Even if that means a shiny, new platform at the expense of current ones, and even if that means it's a little over-hyped. As long as they finally have one thing they can point at and say "THIS is what Yahoo does, because we do it better than anyone."

> this site really seems to scream "late 30-something suburbian white woman with a minivan" in a way that that most other sites don't, so I don't feel very welcome here. Shouldn't the front page to one of the world's most recognized online brands start out a little more neutral

On the contrary, you, personally, are not Yahoo's stereotypical user. Yahoo absolutely should start out appealing to its primary demographic as that will hook the greatest number of new visitors, and you've just described the typical web user. That web user will feel much more at home on this default page than on Ars Technica's default page.

I agree with you that in time, the page should adapt, and preferably rapidly. The difference is the starting point which should be the same as the starting point in the grocery checkout lane. You also shop at the grocery, but the checkout lane isn't designed for you.

Not exactly, I stopped visiting Yahoo and went to a more neutral site like Google News for this very reason.

Last I checked, news on Yahoo was becoming a joke, in my opinion. This reflected across their entire site, and even more so in the quality of their comments. I hope Marissa Mayer changes this, I doubt that any aspiring web company wants to be known for this.

I use Yahoo all the time. Here are my complaints (which many yahoo users always complain about in the comment section):

-No consistency across sites

-They censor a lot of the comments

-The comment system never works right

-The comment system constantly switches from facebook comments to yahoo comments.

-A lot of the services don't work right (like retrieving portfolio data). Sometime it works, other times it does not.

-They are really heavy on the ads

-They need a better video player. They are testing a new one...not sure if it is good or not. The old one uses a lot cpu 60%.

-The search sucks

-Too much Kardasians/Jersey Shore crap. They need better quality/fresh content.

-The Ymail needs catch up to Gmail/Hotmail. I mean no SSL when accessing mail?

I'll add some comments on their finance section:

1) REALLY need a way to graph "adjusted stock price" or "growth of $10,000" instead of just raw stock price. Otherwise, mutual fund graphs fall off a cliff every December due to payment of capital gains distributions and dividends (the drop is not economically meaningful and it makes it hard to compare to an index or other security). If you look at their "Historic Prices" page they have the data (called "Adj Close"), they just don't give you a way to graph it.

2) Since they started displaying real-time auto-updating stock prices recently, the percent change and dollar change are often out of sync (at least in my browser, Seamonkey). Sometimes, one is negative while the other is positive, so it's pretty obvious. I'm surprised the exchanges haven't slapped them silly for this (I believe you have to register with the exchanges if you are going to display their data to ensure that are competent enough to not display bad prices).

Genuinely curious what keeps you in Y! Mail over GMail. Is it the history of your messages, the familiarity of the system, or something else entirely?

The last time I looked at Yahoo's mail, you had to pay to enable IMAP access. Even stranger, it wasn't a recurring fee, but just some one-time deal. Seems to have changed now, at least?

I use a 15-yr old yahoo email account. They got me first, no I've never switched over.

I always use Google for search, even in China where it sometimes plays up. Google got me first (after Altavista folded).

There's some of us who don't switch due to inertia, which are the types of customers many businesses, e.g. banks, make most of their money from.

Not all eggs in one basket, etc.

"there's SO MUCH STUFF on the front page"

I haven't been there for a long time, so I went there to follow your critique, and my first thought was WTF is all this? This is like a 90s site map, with pictures.

I wonder if they're optimising for profitability (while aiming to only keep user retention steady), or if this is really what the target users want.

I read anywhere that pages in japan are supposed to be chock full, you don't want any white space. Incidentally Yahoo Japan is very popular (although it does have different management, yahoo US only have as minority stake in it). There could be types of users elsewhere in the world who want the same kind of thing

Wow, it's horrible.

The way the logo is placed, it looks like an ad for another site.

The whole page is reminiscent of the adwords aggregation sites that grab the mis-typed domains of popular sites.

I also checked the site out for the first time in a while. My first thought: "This looks like AOL.com."

But of course I haven't been to AOL in forever either, maybe they've changed. So I checked them out too. Yep, can't tell the difference.

In 2007, TechCrunch had an article showing that AOL and Yahoo even had the same page layout: http://techcrunch.com/2007/04/26/aol-one-step-behind-again-n...

Ha, thought I'd have a look out of curiosity, the aol.com is actually far cleaner.

I agree. It's not just the homepage though. The whole site needs to be a little less cluttered.

Curiously enough, the http://nz.yahoo.com page I got redirected to looks quite different and avoids many of the issues you point out.

The old Yahoo (US) page use to look like this. There may be a reason behind this. Maybe it is less bandwidth intensive (metered ISPs?).

Interesting, could be. Certainly most internet plans in New Zealand have a bandwidth cap, since all the traffic comes through very long expensive cables. That means round trips are slow too, which might be more relevant. Still does't explain a lot of things though.

Re: Trending Now and target audience

Do you seriously think if Google published Trending Now searches, it would be any different from Yahoo!? Or are you suggesting Yahoo! should editorialize?

This is how I see the Yahoo! logo: http://cl.ly/image/0s1D0j13212C The main logo is in Flash, and I block all plugins in Chrome, so all I see is a gray rectangle...

The yahoo logo is not flash. It is a span with this image: http://l.yimg.com/a/i/ww/met/yahoo_logo_us_061509.png.

What your flashblock is actually blocking is an easter egg where if you click on exclamation point, a sound plays that sings the Yahoo jingle.

Honestly, Yahoo today looks less 'clean' than AOL and abous as bad as Fox News.

I am not impressed.

Okay, I may not be the target visitor. But I think that my design aesthetic (minimalistic, simple, low-clutter) is not uncommon, even among non-geeks.

NO LINK TO "MY YAHOO"!!! The only Yahoo service I still use.

Design-by-committee indeed. I saw this happen with my own eyes at a bunch of companies. Executives get together, and they all try to place their sub-project on the front page. Nobody says "no", because they have their own sub-projects. So you end up with this crap.

Seems like these are all moral boosting tweaks. Friday meetings that keep employees up-to-speed, free food, and updated swag. Gets people talking and they can see physical things happening! This is re-org 101. Make no mistake, the real changes that will turn Yahoo around, take months, if not years to get rolling.

>>> Free food is a bonus.

It's also good for Yahoo. It encourages employees to stay on campus for longer, so Yahoo gets more value out of them.

Just curious, how much Google stock does she have, and does that affect what strategies she can pursue with Yahoo? i.e. it may encourage a more cooperative stance with Google than a competitive one, even if the latter is better for Yahoo individually.

I assume and hope she would divest from Google so that more of her net worth is contingent upon Yahoo's success more than Google's.

Definitely a smart decision by Marissa. The savings from feeding employees is definitely outweighed by the productivity and morale gained from satisfied employees. Make your employees feel proud and good to work there.

I'd be more interested in what she's decided he WON'T change. What redeeming qualities does Yahoo have? (That's not a rhetorical question; I'm genuinely interested.)

Lots of content that attracts lots of traffic from all over the world. The people that create that content.

I'd like to work for / with her.

I'd be surprised if there wasn't a hiring freeze right now while they asses what they have. If you look around this site there is all of 4 listings!!

I see at least 170 openings in Sunnyvale alone.

Actually, Yahoo is hiring like crazy.

Any areas in particular?

Pretty much everywhere, but I know for a fact front-end (HTML/CSS/JS) is in high-demand. Just search for relevant terms on the careers site.

Also, Flickr is hiring -> http://flickr.com/jobs/

I think you were looking at the featured listings. Theres a ton more.

Are you surprised yet?

Yahoo still has some buying power with serious engineers. I'm not sure what their plan is but cool projects + good perks are usually a sure fire way to get good engineers. I really hope that she turns the place around and makes another Google.

I bet she'll do nothing more than turn Yahoo into a well-organized and well-fed train wreck. She really needs to bet on something big, not just get people into nice lifeboats. Maybe Scott McNealy would've been a better hire.

Ahh I get it. Shes prepping Yahoo for a Google Takeover. Makes sense...

Smart move. This helps her make friends w/ existing engineers within the company while also making it easier to recuit new talent -- two things she's going to need desperately.

Wow, the smugness and adversity to Marissa Mayer is really evident here. Did these two have a run-in in the past or is that just KS's style of reporting?

Yahoo's front page is 600kb and finishes rendering after about a second. Google is 17kb, and renders in a tenth of that. More Googlification awaits.

Apples and oranges.

Try comparing http://search.yahoo.com/ with http://www.google.com/ , difference isn't as large.

Here's what I get:

     curl -s http://www.google.com/ | wc
     20     397   14433

     curl -s http://search.yahoo.com/ | wc
      1     363   12616

You will need much more than the HTML for the pages to be usable.

A smart move.

I wonder if Marissa will try to maneuver Yahoo for a possible acquisition by Google.

I doubt it. If Mayer wanted to play second fiddle to Page, she'd have stayed at Google.

I can't help but feel that this is a bit cargo cult. I'll wait to see the results.

I know people always make fun of Yahoo Answers, with good reason, but I think that when it comes down to it, Yahoo Answers is one of the web's most important resources, just because there are so many questions and answers that it covers quite a lot of popular topics. True that a lot of it is stupid or nonsense, but there is actually also a lot of useful and timely information in there.

I also remember using the Yahoo fantasy sports thing and it seemed pretty good to me.

And to be honest the Yahoo mail program is really attractive looking to me and very functional.

Yahoo Groups is extremely useful also.

I guess however its hard to compete with things like gmail, reddit and meetup.com.

So anyway since half of the comments in this thread are basically going on a 'pretend you are the new CEO of Yahoo, what would you do' thing, I want to play also. Actually Yahoo has so much going on, its kind of hard to NOT want to play that game.

One thing to focus on making Yahoo Answers better. Maybe more ajaxy and realtime. Maybe make the app better (ask questions? voice input?). Maybe even do a deal with stackoverflow or something (although stackoverflow users might not appreciate that).

It seems like they have a ton of useful applications and other stuff. I forgot one: Yahoo Games. I guess the hard part is making money from all of those things. I think to figure out what to do I would need to know how much each of those different parts of Yahoo cost to operate and how much money comes in (mostly from ads I assume).

I guess one big issue is the brand. Ever since my old boss told me a few years back that Yahoo search was better, I associate Yahoo with idiots. And even though I do think Yahoo Answers is very useful like I mentioned before, the large number of retarded Yahoo Answers questions doesn't help with that idiot brand image problem.

One random idea: its really expensive to build Android, iOS (especially), HTML5, Windows, OSX and Linux apps. Especially if you want to target all of the above. Maybe they could throw some money at Apple and Microsoft and make an application platform with WYSIWYG components, a little bit along the lines of Wordpress, but everything is a widget, and somehow make it work across all of those platforms, and built on Node.js (or something). I say throw money at Microsoft and Apple because they are always (as far as I can tell) spending money on throwing up roadblocks to prevent good cross-platform solutions from becoming popular and practical.

One more random idea: I think the easiest way to compete as internet giant these days might be to create products that cross into the 'real' world. For example, the Google Project Glass project to me seems very exciting. So are things like 3d print-on-demand. Maybe Yahoo could build or promote a product/service along those lines?

Of course, those product/service ideas are extremely expensive, challenging and risky, so I dunno.

Other random idea: try to merge with one of the giant evil cable or media companies, such as Time Warner, if the government will let them. Then maybe if the CEO and people are persuasive enough to the Time Warner execs with all of the Yahoo customer numbers (like 700 million visitors per month), we could finally get HBO GO without having to buy cable. I mean I am not trying to make more gianter evil companies, but.. HBO GO without a cable subscription.

Other random idea: start converting to mainly telecommute by telling most people they can work from home and then eventually shutting down campuses. Use that as a selling point for acquiring talent and also a way to save money.

OK last last random idea: find a way to defeat ad block. Which would probably involve advertisements that actually weren't really advertisements somehow. Maybe something like reddit, or reddit+twitter+facebook, a way for people to recommend/vote up/review/rate products/services or apps, possibly filtered based on the relevance of the current page.. then maybe you just charge all of the advertisers a small fee to be eligible and don't let any of them pay more, so its entirely driven by consumers rather than the amounts companies are willing to pay.

Anyway that was fun.

When did yahoo become people magazine?

I tried to reach a Yahoo PR person for comment, but my phone remains unrung, even here in Israel.

I don't understand this sentence. Is her phone more likely to ring because she's in Israel, or something?

The work week in Israel is Sunday through Thursday, so there probably were people in Yahoo! offices there.

Sunday in Israel was the 9th of Av, which is a very solemn fast day. I doubt if anything at all was open.


No, everything is mostly open on Sunday.

Saturday night, which is when the 9th of Av actually started, most (but not all) things were closed, but Sunday everything is open again, especially businesses.

Jewish Holidays go by the Hebrew Calendar, which counts days from Night to Night, not from Sunrise to Sunrise. So when the regular calendar says that the 9th of Av is on Sunday, the actual holiday is the evening of Saturday, then Sunday 'til evening.

9th of Av is less observed in general Israeli society, compared to other occasions. Other occasions (i.e. Jom kippur, shavuot) all/most (depends on the occasion) businesses would be closed, but not on 9th of Av.

Ah, I see. Thanks.

Mi guess is that her phone remains unrung, even [from] [there] in Israel, meaning she isn't getting a callback either from Yahoo US or from the local Israel office.

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