[sociate] CEO for a day: Yahoo

  • From: "Jerry Michalski" <jerry@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Sociate News" <sociate@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 20 Sep 2004 00:21:40 -0400

If I got to run Yahoo for a day, here's what I'd do. 

I'd rip out the stovepiped, competitive, product-aligned management and P/L
structure that has existed forever there and install structures and measures
that would reward cross-product integration. That way,

*       Yahoo's many services would share more than a common login. Yahoo
Groups would know the same people who are in my Yahoo Mail address book (and
in all other Yahoo services that use people's names, such as Games, Clubs,
Calendar, Photos, Auctions, Classifieds, Small Business, PayDirect, the
now-defunct Invites...). 
*       I could know what I'm doing with each person in different contexts
and services, which would let me easily create groups and give them rights
and resources as needed.

*       Yahoo could build power tools that integrate its many services. We
could see  <http://www.sociate.com/blog/archives/2004_02_01_archive.html>
private media guides, souped-up personal financial assistants, neighborhood
tech support and more.

Then I'd build an interface layer "above" the newly integrated platform, a
set of  <http://www.netlingo.com/lookup.cfm?term=API> APIs (Application
Programming Interfaces) that would allow third parties to build applications
atop Yahoo's many services. Then I'd steal a page from the playbooks that
helped build huge developer and value-added communities around the
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VAX> DEC VAX, IBM
<http://www.varbusiness.com/sections/98pages/181cover.jhtml> AS/400, Lotus
<http://www.lotus.com/products/product4.nsf/wdocs/noteshomepage> Notes and
that Microsoft operating system. Make Yahoo the hosting service of choice
for small and medium sized businesses worldwide.

Of course, this might take more than one day. 

I wish I had posted this when it first came to mind, back
<http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/1283888.stm> when Terry Semel took over
from Tim Koogle in May 2001. Semel's done a notable job
<http://www.clickz.com/news/article.php/2191881> turning Yahoo around, but
in the process he has turned it into a... well, a bit of a tart. Now ads eat
up a quarter of your screen on Yahoo properties, all the marketing feels
increasingly intrusive and whatever goodwill Yahoo had earned with its users
must be pretty much shot. 

This wasn't too difficult to predict, given Semel's Hollywood
<http://docs.yahoo.com/docs/pr/executives/semel.html> background, and maybe
it was the only way to keep the ship from sinking. But I had bigger hopes.

posted by Jerry Michalski at
2261> 11:53 AM

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