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Last week I read a report about Marissa Mayer getting a pretty good first year pay cheque and it got me thinking about what this lady has pulled off in about a year at Yahoo! 🙂

A young CEO, a ‘new’ mother, taking on a company most people had written off – not a doubt she is under the spotlight. Every decision reviewed and scrutinized! We’ve read reports about ‘the baby‘, the ‘work-from-home‘, the ‘free food‘, the switch to iPhone’s/Android/Windows from Blackberry, the ‘maternity leave‘, replicating Google, amongst others, but I am going to focus on one question – “What is Yahoo!’s strategy?”

Yahoo Strategy

What is the plan Yahoo!

What is Yahoo’s strategy?

If I were asked to tweet this answer, it would probably be “I’m not sure” 🙂 So, is it pointless to read the article any further? Let’s read further to arrive at a conclusion 😉 I came across an excellent article by Kara Swisher on Marissa Mayer’s vision. I believe this is perfect for starters 🙂

Over the last few months since I started ‘following’ Yahoo!, I found it pretty hard to figure out what is the basic business of this company. What does Yahoo! actually do? It has so many products, services and things it does – Is it search? Is it advertising? Is it a media company? is it…… ?

Now this is what Yahoo! has to say about itself – “Yahoo! is focused on making the world’s daily habits inspiring and entertaining. By creating highly personalized experiences for our users, we keep people connected to what matters most to them, across devices and around the world. In turn, we create value for advertisers by connecting them with the audiences that build their businesses.”

In this paragraph I think lies the core of what Yahoo! and Marissa Mayer is trying to do. I see Yahoo! predominantly as a media powerhouse today. And Marissa Mayer and her team are going to exploit exactly this in a few ways before they make the transition given the current technological landscape. This includes –

  • Going Mobile,
  • product development cum acquisitions,
  • exploit data – especially on the Social front & Advertising, and,
  • play the strengths (while they trim the rest).

Going Mobile is significant – Yahoo! has already prioritized the list of Apps / products and services they are focusing on and have gone in swiftly. We saw the Weather App being rolled out, a new homepage look, a somewhat pricey acquisition called Summly etc.. Honestly today, Yahoo! is nowhere on the mobile space. And if they have to be “.. predominantly a mobile company in the future” as the current boss wants it, then by Dec 2014 Yahoo! must have at least some presence on the mobile landscape. The two pillars Yahoo! is basing their game on – Media and Mobile.

Products – Another area of deep importance because this is Ms.Mayer’s forte! This is her area of expertise and will be critically evaluated on this parameter. She made it abundantly clear that they won’t enter Maps, and has pushed her weight behind ‘Flickr‘. Photo sharing is a powerful engagement tool and Yahoo has not just a large specific group/category of themes but also a huge member base present. How will they use it to compete against the likes of Instagram et.al is still to be seen.

Advertising – The core business is here. Everything will boil down to how much revenue comes from Ad’s. The latest earning’s call was not confidence inducing. But I think it’s too early and harsh to say that. Short-term loss, long-term gain. They’ve snapped up a couple of very good startup’s – all focused towards exploitation of data – to personalize content – to get better ad’s to the consumer!
Play the strengths and trim the rest – Operations in South Korea have been laid to rest, several products faced the axe, so Yahoo! has become ‘lean’ in that sense. The management will want faster development cycles – simply because one thing Yahoo! has been consistently missing over the years is – EXECUTION!

Execution and Yahoo

Yahoo! – Change quick in the right direction

If they have to succeed then the biggest hurdle they will face is executing right. The positive this time around I believe, are the number of people baying for Marissa Mayer’s blood immediately. She has managed being an apple of the eye and a darling to the investors! I don’t doubt her capabilities to continue buying time from them. The big question is – Will Wall Street be as gentle and give her time enough to figure out how to monetize her plan of presenting on a golden platter, across all types of devices, a complete and precise user interest feed to advertisers?

Perhaps sometime later I will talk about Alliances. A topic I am deeply interested in and an area I believe that will help Marissa Mayer and her team sail through some of the more difficult times they are going to face. Maybe the next post might be the Yahoo! alliances and ecosystem – Microsoft, Apple, Google ……..

Yahoo! is an expression usually said with immense joy 🙂 With just a Euro a Day you can help educate a child and help them feel elated! Joy is not somewhere outside, it is inside of you and to realize that, it maybe an idea to close your eyes just for a few minutes everyday 🙂