Yahoo’s Opportunities

I’m writing this as both a consumer of online services as well as the hypothetical “what I’d do if I were the CEO” scenario.  It’s nothing more than armchair quarterbacking.  Also, I started this post before news of Yahoo’s acquisition of Summly broke, and rumors of Zynga and DailyMotion began.

There was little doubt in my mind that Marissa Mayer was a great choice to lead Yahoo.  I can only imagine the morale and culture after the least few years.  And, even though I’m a remote worker myself (not for Yahoo), I agree with her decision to pull in all the remotes.  Yahoo needs to come together if it wants to survive.

It’s a sad fall for a site which was the first real start page for the Internet, the first free email on a grand scale, the first real customizable portal.  The gold standard with the six second load time, and the your-site-is-invisible-until-it’s-in-the-Yahoo-directory site.  And YUI and Douglas Crockford and JSON.  Delicious and Flickr made sense, and there is still so much to like.

We’ll know if Yahoo has it’s shit together in the next few months.  Google reader closing is a prime opportunity, even some industry pundits are saying that despite declining usage closing Reader is a bad ideaFeedly picked up 500K new users in 48 hours and Digg is adding its own RSS reader.  No migrant user is truly committed yet—people are shopping around for a replacement they like.  There is plenty of opportunity, but services have only until May 31.  A My Yahoo user could always add RSS to your My Yahoo page, but I stopped using online portals several years ago like everyone else as I began to use a tablet and touch apps more and more.

Yahoo needs a good mobile strategy.  I wouldn’t be looking to build a legion of delusional fanbois, but anyone who isn’t productive on a tablet is on shaky ground these days.  Yahoo has the content and services, it just needs to get them back in people’s hands.  There are a few Yahoo mobile apps, but so much room for more.

Yahoo has done its share of spring cleaning in the past, but there’s one service Yahoo dispensed with which they might regret.  I’m sure Ms. Mayer is just a little sick that Delicious was unloaded.  Delicious is just the kind of analytics-generating service data-centric people love.  Despite its offerings, there is a lot of room for acquisition to expand Yahoo.  Sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor or Kayak could go a long way if integrated well and could be used to enhance Bing’s results, giving users a reason to choose Yahoo over Bing itself.  Remember, while Ms. Mayer was still at Google, Google acquired Zagat, ostensibly for similar reasons.

So, tl;dr version, Yahoo needs a solid mobile strategy.  Not a bunch of apps, one good app with access to everything Yahoo.  Yahoo also needs to give people a reason to go there for search, and adding content from review sites it may acquire is a good way to start.  And take the opportunity to grab some of the users Google has turned into nomads by being a really good site again.