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Yahoo's Carol Bartz: "We have never been a search company"

     
5:28 pm on Aug 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Yahoo's Carol Bartz: "We have never been a search company," [bits.blogs.nytimes.com]
Yahoo, according to Ms. Bartz, simply feeds search results for people who have grown curious while reading one of its news stories or watching a video. It doesn’t generally pop into peoples’ minds as the first place to go look for answers during the course of their day-to-day activities.

As such, Ms. Bartz said she could continue to live with the 20 percent or so share of the search market Yahoo has today. “I am a very viable number,” she said. “It is very profitable, and we would be happy all day long.”

The biggest thing for Yahoo is increasing the number of pages people consume and slapping as many display ads as possible across those pages. “My fortunes are tied to my pages,” Ms. Bartz said.

5:43 pm on Aug 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I agree with her... It's hard to really maintain a good search engine algorithm and and the underlying hardware / software. Many searches have no ads, many people never click ads... CPM display ads pay every time, CPC and CPA display ads can earn revenue on par with search if it's well targeted. Yahoo needs to work on ad relevance for non-CPM deals and keep upping the pageviews numbers. Maybe they can also do something with Zimbra like offer Zimbra hosted email for a fee or sell Zimbra support contracts like Red Hat does with RHEL.
5:47 pm on Aug 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

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That reads a lot like a statement of admition that Yahoo as a search destination has failed to meet their expectations. It also reinforces the origional Yahoo stratagey of selling ads.

In my oppinion yahoo struggle when it comes to their own search. In the past Yahoo have used results from other providers, notably Google. Before that it was Inktomi.

Yahoo`s struggle to develop their own search platform was possibly one of the reasoons they have taken a tumble in recent years. If they wheren`t investing heavily into search, they could have been more cretive in other areas.

Perhaps the recent Yahoo! - Bing deal will put Yahoo back into perspective.

Mack.

6:15 pm on Aug 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

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“My fortunes are tied to my pages,” Ms. Bartz said.

I'm not sure how many people here are aware of Yahoo's agreement with most of the major US newspaper chains. In the newspaper biz, it's a big deal. One chain, Hearst, is working the Yahoo ad deal as a major profit driver for their corporation. (And, they are making millions with it, too.)

The deal is that Yahoo selling national ads for newspaper web sites and the newspapers sells local ads for Yahoo. It sounds great. In practice, if you try to buy ads (as I have) it's awkward and time consuming. Recently, Yahoo has a service where it's easy to buy local ads on Yahoo bypassing their newspaper partners.

One of the big appeals of this package for newspapers was the newspapers could sell local ads on Yahoo search results. So, the agreement with Bing could be a great thing for the newspapers, or another waste of time, depending on how it works out.

But, if I were a publisher (someone who makes "pages" and sells them) and I read Yahoo's new CEO was saying, "My fortunes are tied to my pages," I'd be asking some questions.

Poor newspapers. They can not get a break.

Anyway, for what it's worth, I--for one--thought Yahoo was a major player in online search. Silly me.

7:15 pm on Aug 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

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We Have Never Been a Search Company

That’s not how I remember it. Back in the late 1990’s I started out with a single site, and scratched out my first revenue from where my site ranked in the Yahoo directory. Clearly Yahoo needs to grow, change and find the markets that best suit them. However, saying they were never a search company is revisionist history IMHO.

8:01 pm on Aug 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

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That’s not how I remember it. Back in the late 1990’s I started out with a single site, and scratched out my first revenue from where my site ranked in the Yahoo directory.

Directories and search engines are two different animals. Yahoo was the leading directory back when directories still mattered, but it was never a leader in spidered search.

8:27 pm on Aug 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Directories and search engines are two different animals.

Quite true, but back then when people went searching for something they often went to Yahoo, and the searcher really had no idea of the difference.

but it was never a leader in spidered search.

Yes, very true as well, but they sure have done an awful lot of spidering over the years, they certainly have tried to be a force in it. To now have the ceo declare they were never a search company, is pure and simple spin against the backdrop of letting MSN just take over that area.

Saying they have failed as a search company is much closer to the truth than declaring they never were a search company, which insinuates search was never a very big core part of their business model.

9:35 pm on Aug 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Kinda reminds me a bit of the Netscape spin when they had to redefine their business mission every other year in the tumultuous 90's.

"we're a browser company"
"oops, we're a server software company now"
"Ahem, there days, we're an intranet company"
"I mean, we're a portal..."

10:13 pm on Aug 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Yahoo from Day 1 has always been a "Guide to the World Wide Web". This doesn't mean they should be just search, and they aren't.

Yahoo does many things well. Maps, email, news...just like Google has. But they have some of their own unique things as well such as their games selection and fantasy sports. People automatically (and unfairly)compare Yahoo to Google and say that since Google does search better that Google is better and Yahoo has somehow failed.

Yahoo is the #2 site on the web today. That's still pretty damn good. Their search results could be better but there's a lot of other things they should work on improving as well as developing new things that Google doesn't have. Google might be unbeatable in search, but Yahoo can still provide a better overall user experience.

10:25 pm on Aug 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

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"Guide to the World Wide Web"

Unfortunately this is not the case ..Yahoo has remained resolutely and erroneously parochially USA centric ..

And as such will dwindle and die ( unless ,by miracle the injection of an alternative way of seeing the world via the involvement with MS wakes up their management ) ..yahoo has had and still does have some very good people who do not think "closed" ..but not at the top ..

Which is why they are where they are today ..
and which is why Ms Bartz is spinning pathetically ..as is her company ..5 years from now ( barring miracles ) it will be yah ..who ?

4:17 am on Aug 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Yahoo has remained resolutely and erroneously parochially USA centric

Completely and naively untrue [world.yahoo.com].

4:34 am on Aug 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I think Carol Bartz is happy to get her feet wet in the affiliate game (ie:ebay's EPN for starters). With a site as large as Yahoo! who wouldn't enjoy the (very)temporary increase in revenue from adding more affiliate links?!

Without a plan to increase or even maintain that 20% market share it will shrink, it's her JOB to make sure it doesn't, or so I thought.

Yahoo has remained resolutely and erroneously parochially USA centric

Wow, Yahoo! has always tried to be "global". Being based solely in the US wouldn't mean death anyway, far from it.
9:59 am on Aug 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Yahoo has remained resolutely and erroneously parochially USA centric

The only thing Yahoo has kept USA centric is their ad program, which is something they've been pretty awful at and need to work on.

2:17 pm on Aug 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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If they have never been a search company why they had never outsourced the search to someone else, just like they do with the news, for example?!? I have never heard of "journalist for Yahoo"; they are all AP wires.

The only TV commercial I can recall about Yahoo has always revolved around the search, not the rest of their services (there was something with a talking dolphin a few years back)...

Yahoo is clearly below par on all their services, not just search. The only "unique" service they have is the yahoo mail, which has long been blown away by Gmail.

The truth is - there is absolutely no reason for anyone to visit Yahoo these days. I can get sports news and analysis from ESPN (free and professional, not AP wire only), finance from cnbc or the likes, general news from any other website, better email from Google, better search from Google AND Bing, games from the gazillion of games websites, etc. Their market share has been going down since forever and nothing they have done (i.e. not done) would stop the decline.

3:39 pm on Aug 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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games from the gazillion of games websites

Tell me...why am I defending Yahoo?...tell me what these game sites are where you can play almost every type of card game and other games with real people. We're not talking flash games, but multiplayer games.

6:39 pm on Aug 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Also she has a cheek to say “My fortunes are tied to my pages,”
That shows the worst arrogance in a CEO, they are "our" fortunes and "our" pages.
Especially as she has only just started.
7:03 pm on Aug 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Wow, never in that business but paid billions for companies in that business....
8:50 pm on Aug 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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If they have never been a search company why they had never outsourced the search to someone else,

Yahoo! search used to be powered by Google. Before that Yahoo got their results from Inktomi.

Mack.

10:58 pm on Aug 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Before that Yahoo got their results from Inktomi

God, did you take me back...:) I remember those days... Of course I was talking about present day, not something 5-10 years ago (i know, i wrote it wrong). There is no reason to hire a bunch of programmers if you are not going to be in the game, was my main point.

Now saying that "we were never in the search business" is simply loser-talk. I agree, Yahoo was never ALL ABOUT search, but the commercials they ran would've made you think so...Well, they gave it a shot, realized they sucked at it and now it's going to MSN, which is great news. Bing is at least trying.

My fortunes are tied to my pages

The way I see it - their fortunes are tied only to the habit some people have for visiting Yahoo. And in all honesty, if you've never visited Yahoo before and land on thier home page - I bet you'd have no idea what this company does. Heck, I don't even know what Yahoo does, nor their CEOs over the past few years. Are they a search company, a news portal, a game website or simply the longer way to get to facebook?!? For quite a few years people have lost interest in visiting "a portal to the web", rather they are looking for particular sites - news, games, forums, reviews, whatever. Google got it right and build their business on this, while Yahoo is stuck in the 90's.

tell me what these game sites are where you can play almost every type of card game and other games with real people. We're not talking flash games, but multiplayer games.

I don't know. But if you search on Google I am sure you will find them :) for example, search for "play card games with real people"

2:04 am on Aug 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

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And in all honesty, if you've never visited Yahoo before and land on thier home page - I bet you'd have no idea what this company does.

Good point. The real issue aren't whether Yahoo was ever a search engine; it's what Yahoo is today, and whether the question even matters anymore.

2:31 am on Aug 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

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My Home Page is FireFox with the Google search box in the middle. I have my Bookmarks drop down menu.
What more do I need really ?
The days of Home Pages are gone imho.
7:46 am on Aug 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Yahoo, at the beginning, was the original place to find stuff. Period. The founders happened to have chosen a directory as the model with which to tackle the issue...however, the goal was simple: help people find stuff.

How hard is that?

Oh, and they need to fire Carol Bartz before she puts foot in mouth again.

This is proof Yahoo! was always a search company [web.archive.org] built with the goal of helping people to find stuff. Period.

Or...was Yahoo simply deluded the first 3-5 years they were in existence? And, those shareholders who bought stock in a company that had a home page...such as that...were they also duped?

It sure looks like a search company to me. By that, I mean a place where people go to *find* stuff.

12:19 am on Aug 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

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It sure looks like a search company to me. By that, I mean a place where people go to *find* stuff.

Definitions of "search" may vary, but a researcher or librarian might argue that "search" refers to keyword-based, full-text search (as in a search engine), while a "directory" is a hierarchically-structured list of Web sites, businesses, street addresses, books, or whatever its editors choose to include. Directories--like search engines--may help people "find stuff," but then, so does the reference librarian at my public library, and I wouldn't equate her with Google, AltaVista, or Infoseek.

In any case, let's not lose sight of the bigger picture: Carol Bartz won't be judged by Yahoo's share of the spidered search market; she'll be judged by the numbers in Yahoo's financial reports. What's more, Wall Street analysts and investors are unlikely to lose sleep over the question of whether Yahoo was a "search company" or a "directory company" in its early years.

12:23 am on Aug 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Well said as always signor_john.