Tag Archives: Yahoo

Ouch – Blackberry not “cool” enough for Yahoo!

So rumor has it that new Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer is looking to make another interesting change at the tech giant. She is apparently looking to bring some cool and some Google like changes to the work environment. I will have to say that I am quietly optimistic and impressed at some of what she has done so far… I realize we do not have a huge sample size and providing free meals does not equate brilliant business

Not in Marissa’s world!

strategy. But clearly she understands that to change Yahoo!, and get it out of the dumps, she must change the culture. Simple acts like providing, as many other tech players do, such “perks” as free meals is key to the cultural shift. The other decision – not returning the cash from Alibaba investment – demonstrates a vision and a willingness to do the necessary.

The latest one struck a cord with me, the news that every Yahoo! employee will receive an iPhone or Android. Seems like a message from the CEO that everyone needs to think about mobility. Everyone needs to be on the mobile devices that are a cornerstone of any mobile strategy. Notice the one device not offered…yup the Blackberry. And to quote the article:

Yahoo should be innovating for the future, and BlackBerrys are not part of the future. They are part of the quickly fading past.

Ouch. Once again another example of the death knell for RIM. Good for Marissa to push forward some interesting ideas and force the Yahoo! culture to shift. Too bad another tech giant cannot grasp the reality of innovate or die. If Yahoo! realizes you aren’t “cool” you have trouble ahead.

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Another shopping list…for an unexpected candidate – Yahoo!

A good article about what Yahoo! could do with a new cash infusion – granted this is not the vast sums of cash Apple has that we have been spending. But we are still looking at $4billion of cash that Yahoo will get once they sell their shares in Chinese internet firm Alibaba. Business Insider has a great shopping list for Yahoo, click here for article. So here is an acquisition not on the list, and one that I suggested Apple should acquire – Barnes and Nobles.

Why? Again, similar to the reasoning behind Apple getting their hands on it, the Nook. But this is even more juicy for Yahoo that has zero device in the market unlike Apple, Microsoft and Google. This would also thrust Yahoo into a position of importance when it comes to eBooks and content. Yahoo would also have a new eCommerce/distribution network. Granted this might add complexity that they do not want, but I think for the upside it is worth the venture.

Another target – RIM. With the news coming out of Canada being very negative these days about the future of the Blackberry maker being in serious question. This would give Yahoo a footprint in the mobile space, and could be an interesting partnership with some of Yahoo’s assets like – Yahoo finance – tie this into a device that remains the most business centric platform and you have a fighting chance. The marriage would also grow the messenger features both companies have to offer. Granted the valuation of RIM, might stretch Yahoo’s ability to acquire. But it might a gamble worth making.

Yahoo should not look to chase Google on video with a Vimeo acquisition, nor try to tangle too much on the search side – look at what Bing has done for Microsoft…not much. I do think that such assets as Yelp and Foursquare would help on the local search front as well as mobile.

However to really make themselves relevant again, Yahoo must make a push in the mobile/device space. Get themselves into that arena, they are already behind but it remains a space.

Shopping with others’ money is fun, even if it is only $4billion!

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Let us go shopping! How to spend Apple’s pile of cash

A great article in the NY Times about how Apple could acquire some new assets with that pile of cash they are sitting on…$117billion worth of cash that is. Some interesting and great ideas. A couple I would argue should be Apple’s list:

  • Netflix – I have said this in the past that Netflix would be a good asset for Apple. The NY Times article has them on the “outside” of the list. However for $6b (2x market value), Apple would get the perfect content library to add to their iTunes store. This would be a strong asset to add as they battle with Amazon for content. They could also leverage this content library into the Apple TV service.
  • Barnes and Nobles – Holy Brick and Mortar batman…yes…there were rumors that Apple had sniffed around B&N. Here is why it would make sense. The Nook. You call me crazy, but the Nook is the perfect foil to go after the Kindle and the Google Tablet. Apple would not “dilute” the iPad but offering a smaller version of the Apple tablet. Instead Apple would get right into the 7in screen tablet market. Incorporate the content library from B&N as well as getting all those locations and Apple now has another channel. The Barnes and Nobles stores would also allow Apple to have another distribution channel – maybe even close the music sections and have iTune distribution via the store wifi. I am sure Apple could get the book store for a cool billion…chump change for Apple.
  • Nintendo – What is missing from Apple offerings that Microsoft and Sony have? Game console. I realize this might be a stretch. But the one area many of these firms are still battling for is the home entertainment hub. Apple is trying to get in there with the Apple TV, but that is one product that has not taken off. Nintendo has the Wii, which revolutionized gaming and moved away from the static button controller to using motion. Apple has that as well with the iPhone, iPod and iPad. Could there be some synergies between those and the Wii console? Why not? Granted the price tag could be steep – $11b + but that is less than 10% of what Apple has on hand!
  • Yahoo! –  Okay okay, they internet giant just hired one of Google’s stars, so why would they look to be acquired now? Because everyone has a price! An acquisition of Yahoo! could become the platform for Apple’s social platform. Yahoo has a number of assets – IM, email, content, Flikr, to name a few, that with some Apple magic dust might live up to their potentials.

Just some thoughts on which toys Apple could add to their arsenal. Much hinges on the direction Apple wants to take – make a greater play in corporate? stress social? add content sources? They have plenty of cash to take on multiple avenues. But as history has taught us, no matter how much cash you have if you cannot focus and do not keep your eye on the goal you will eventually slip up.

Apple is currently in lofty company. Hopefully they use their cash wisely to maintain this stature.

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Now that Skype is off the market who is next?

I have been thinking about the Microsoft – Skype deal and started thinking, who else could be a target for the tech elephants? Obviously Google was rebuffed in its attempts to acquire Groupon. First the ground rules, the big elephants: Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple, everyone else is a “target.” So here are some thoughts:

  • Apple will go after Netflix and will integrate the asset into iTunes as well as look to revitalize Apple TV. Amazon is rumored to be starting a streaming video service and with the Kindle and the rumor of Amazon pushing out a new tablet, Apple will want to stay ahead of that curve. Apple will also be able to hardwire NetFlix into the iPhone or iPad…maybe even come out with a dumb down version of the iPad which is a streaming device for iTunes and Netflix.
  • Facebook will purchase Yahoo! The one time tech elephant has seen itself be downgraded to a “has been” in the tech world – by the way of AOL. I know that Facebook has announced that it will have an email service, but why not just acquire it via Yahoo! For all their issues, Yahoo still has very strong email service. Add to this the assets such as Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Messenger, and Facebook would have a valuable asset to partner with their existing assets to continue to challenge Google.
  • Amazon will look to acquire a location based service such as 4square. The location based service has added some specials to their check ins allowing them to sneak into the Groupon space. But why would they be a good fit for Amazon? Because Amazon is the world’s biggest online retailer. Since we, well some of us, go to Amazon to purchase a whole host of products why not combine your online shopping trends with where you are going in the real world. This might sound like a privacy nightmare, but for Amazon the ability to match the two trends would be  a gold mine when it comes to advertising and promotions. Amazon also provides the eCommerce engine for many smaller vendors, what about this idea: you check in via 4square to a location, there is a special for a product, if you purchase and show your check in you get a discount or if you want you can jump to the Amazon site to see if you can have it shipped…or even price shop. Retailers might not like that but they will like the ability to target clients.
  • Google will look to acquire Hulu to add the network streaming service to YouTube. They will create a Hulu landing page on YouTube, add that regular content to YouTube giving it some structure on top of it self created content. Google should look to create more formal channels on YouTube while not taking away from the power of YouTube’s self created content. Google might also think about acquiring AOL, why? AOL has bee quietly reinventing itself and acquiring social marketing assets as well. Google would get a portfolio of social assets in one simple purchase.

Just some thoughts on which dominos could fall next. Who do you think is the next target?

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Yahoo to drop Delicious – moving in the wrong social direction

The fall out continues over the rumored move by Yahoo with regards to their social tagging service – Delicious. Add this to the news that Yahoo will be having a RIF along the lines of 4% of their overall work force and you do not have a good end of 2010 for the online giant Yahoo! The story that continues to have legs is the news that leaked out that Yahoo will be sun-setting Delicious, one of the many social bookmarking sites that many have leveraged – according to their Wiki page they have over 5 million users with 180 million unique pages bookmarked. While this is insignificant when compared to the 500millon Facebook users, it is nothing to sneeze at, especially in the greater scope.

Yahoo has been struggling since the early 2000s when it was seen, with AOL, as the Google or Facebook of its time. They were the new companies redefining how we searched for information, how we interacted with one another and how we communicated with the world. Yahoo mail remains one of the leading free email services, double the size of the likes of Gmail. Messenger permeates the instant messaging services. The portal remains a strength for Yahoo, its reader as one of the preferred aggregator of RSS feeds. Unfortunately, these assets are “old” they are stagnant. They keep Yahoo in the conversation, but too often it is a conversation about the difference between the new kids on the block – Facebook, Twitter and Google versus the old guard – Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL.

Yahoo has fought to try and reinvent itself, even exploring a merger with Microsoft – would have been an interesting merger of old guard technology firms. Yahoo has tried to revamp its search to compete with Google, with minimal success, Bing has been much more successful thrusting itself into the search game. Yahoo poured millions into a marketing campaign to make its brand important again…to minimal success. Yahoo has gone through a musical chairs of leaders. All the while watching their rivals Facebook, Twitter and Google grab all the attention. Microsoft remains a presence due to their Xbox, mobile platform and ubiquitous operating system. Even AOL has been quietly trying to redefine itself – purchasing a number of assets in the social media sphere.

Unfortunately for Yahoo, they appear to be moving in the wrong direction. The rumor that they will be selling off Delicious or shutting it down as well as a host of other assets smacks of a company that does not have a clear strategy for what it wants to be or where it wants to go. Rather they seem to be reactionary – only 5 million users we cannot support that profitably, cut it.  We cannot figure out this search engine game, move on. Let us hunker down behind our toolbar and portal and hold out.

I have been a loyal user of many Yahoo services – messenger, email, finance to name a few. I hold out hope that the one time cool internet company finds itself again. They have some cards to play in the space, but I fear that time is running out. The move with Delicious is just another decent face card that Yahoo threw away rather than playing it aggressively.

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Facebook’s email – not about sending mail but about war with Google

The last round between internet giants Google and Facebook is about to be waged over email. I do not mean Zuckerberg sending flaming emails to Sergey and Larry, rather a new email service provide to the public from Facebook. Now you might say, well Facebook already allows you to send email and IM … yes but only to others on Facebook. While that would appear to be enough, since everyone and their mother is now on Facebook, there remains some who are not and therefore you could not email them.

So Facebook is looking to bring a free email service that would pull from its vast repository of social information to bring you a better emailing service. Google has already done some tweaking to Gmail but allowing your messages to be prioritized based on frequency you receive from the sender and other variables. Facebook wants to take this one step further but leveraging the relationships you have on Facebook and determining which emails are really important to you. All very interesting.

However let us not get distracted by this latest round…it is not about providing users with another free email service (Yahoo and Hotmail still lead in free email). It is all about another point of contact with users to gather data and information to better market to and sell to this same audience. Both Google and Facebook realize that the name of the game is gathering and organizing data, all kinds of it. Google has done so via search, Facebook doing it via personal networking. One might argue that Facebook’s data might be more valuable, since those advertisers, services, businesses, agencies and the list goes on all want to market to the individual whether it is to buy toothpaste, life insurance, real estate, consulting services, a tractor or a local eatery. By adding email, Facebook is looking to pull in another sliver of information about what we do and who we are.

Yahoo, Microsoft and Google should not simply look at how many new users the Facebook email service will gain, but realize that the 3rd biggest internet company is continuing to build its information empire. That is the real story behind being able to add another email handle to your profile.

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