I was going to tell you about a blog posted October 16 by Jerry Yang, Yahoo’s CEO, but Cherei scooped me in the comments to yesterday’s blog. I’ve highlighted what I think are the relevant portions of Yang’s blog:
There’s been much curiosity and speculation about what’s been happening here at Yahoo! over the past few months. Roughly 100 days into our business review, I’m ready to start sharing some of the framework for where we see the future of Yahoo!.
After I last posted in July, we gathered senior leaders from across the company to develop a vision that we believe is truly different from that of the past. We conducted an intense review of our business, examining everything from our strategy and culture to our competitive position and how the marketplace is evolving. We knew we had to change not only our business, but also how we prioritize and make decisions. We had to shift from a siloed mentality to a more collaborative organization that marches toward a common horizon. We had to determine which businesses to invest in, and which to begin to exit or de-emphasize.
What we ultimately saw was massive untapped potential and the opportunity to achieve things few companies on the planet could accomplish. As audacious as that sounds, we believe it’s entirely within our reach with a lot of hard work and discipline, greater focus, tough decisions, a shift in culture, and faster execution. And what will drive us? Creating incredible experiences for our customers.
Based on our analysis, we’ve made important decisions. We defined a strategy that revolves around making Yahoo! indispensable to an ecosystem of consumers, advertisers, publishers and developers while tapping into three key differentiators: generating and leveraging insights, deploying open platforms, and becoming partner of choice. While these have long distinguished us, we intend to do more with them going forward. We will do so by measuring how much more “relevant” we can become for each member of our ecosystem. We believe centering around “relevance” will become a unifying focus for us and drive increased value in everything we do.
We’re placing our bets in three big multi-year objectives. Let me walk you through them, what they mean, and what kind of actions support them:
- Become the starting point for the most consumers: We’re defining “starting point” as being the sites that help you better manage your life and connect you to what matters most to you. Services like our Front Page, My Yahoo!, mail, search, and mobile all fulfill that role, while properties like news, sports, and finance (for example) serve as anchors from those starting points. We’ve made it our mission to provide kick-ass experiences in both of these categories to inspire the most consumers to begin their day with us. It’s critical for us to continue to invest and innovate in these offerings so that we can power and delight these consumers. Recent moves like the new Yahoo! Search, the new Yahoo! Mail, and our acquisitions of Zimbra and BuzzTracker should give you a sense of what we mean. And by tapping into our insights, we think we can significantly increase our relevance (why serve up World Series content to you on our front page when what you’re really interested in is Dancing with the Stars?).
- Become the must-buy for advertisers: What’s key here is our transformation from selling inventory on primarily the Yahoo! network to becoming an advertising company that delivers comprehensive, integrated, and targeted solutions on Yahoo! and beyond. Through our acquisitions of RightMedia and BlueLithium, we think we’re on track to becoming the industry’s leading open ad network. We’ll provide advertisers with the benefits of more insights, open competition, and scaleable tools and platforms. We think our momentum is building. Panama’s global rollout is nearly complete, our display business is showing signs of growth, we’ve signed on more great publishingpartners, and we’re encouraged by the traction we’re seeing in our new strategy.
- Deliver open, industry-leading platforms that attract the most publishers and developers: We have phenomenal technology platforms and data infrastructure, and it’s time to share. Besides building on open API for critical platforms, we’re looking at many different ways to open Yahoo!. We’re excited about what could happen when a motivated community of publishers and developers starts plugging into our most popular services. Imagine how efficient your Yahoo! Finance experience could be with portfolios integrated from your brokerage. Or how personalized your Yahoo! homepage could be with a cool third-party widget. The possibilities are endless and “open” is all part of a new way of operating at Yahoo!.
Our new decision-making framework also informed what we’d no longer invest in. To start, we’ve de-emphasized our focus on subscription music in favor of ad-supported music, migrated Yahoo! Photos to Flickr, we intend to transition Yahoo! 360 to a more integrated Yahoo! “profile” experience, we’ve closed Yahoo! Podcasts and plan to shut down a number of one-off services, and we’re currently assessing our options for our Kelkoo comparison shopping service in Europe. We’ve identified still more areas and we’ll continue to work through them.
While our recent actions and initiatives provide the breadcrumb trail for Yahoo!’s future direction, you should now have a clearer sense of the new path we’ve charted. We’ve scripted our strategy, sharpened our organization, determined how we’ll prioritize, and zeroed in on our big bets. We’re in the midst of our transformation and seeing some initial progress. There’s hard work ahead, along with a large and growing market opportunity. If we execute as planned, I’m confident we’ll be creating substantial long-term value for our users, advertisers, publishers, and developers – and, of course, for our shareholders.
CEO and Chief Yahoo
Several 360 users have posted responses in the comments to Yang’s blog, and I want to share them with you.
You really need to take another look at 360 and how passionate its users are about it. Yahoo!360 somehow became “Myspace for grownups,” perhaps without intent, and certainly without a lot of support or communication from the 360 Team. People are leaving 360 *right now* because they’re expecting it to turn into yet another pre-teen thing come January. Look at the over 900 comments on the latest 360 Product blog post, and you’ll see how many people care deeply about this service.
How many users were on 360? Two million? (minus the thousands that have already left) Can Yahoo really afford to alienate that many people? I don’t really believe Yahoo wants to lose those users, but lose them you will if you don’t start communicating in *detail* about the changes that are coming. How many more users would there have been on 360 had the 360 Team been proactive with bug fixes and communication? How wildly popular might it have been had Yahoo been promoting it? (I started a blog on Blogger about a month after 360 first rolled out, because I didn’t know 360 existed at the time.)
Look into how you can make the passion work for you… because right now, it’s working against you.
Comment by Larry Kollar – Oct 18th, 2007 at 4:52 pm
I visited some y360 a day back and felt the above emotions. I wrote here about how y360 could be striped down of the media n stuff and be presented as a bloggers delight. Giving emphasis to posts, topics/titles, tags, syndication (rss), privacy set at source (both for blogger and commenter) and all this be interconnected and being attached to profiles. I saw screenshots of mash, their is work to do i am also thinking i might not have all the puzzle bits, its a different story when you draw strategies on a paper board, the dots connect better everyday. Meanwhile i would not worry much, i mean even god removed those dino’s and started fresh, except for those roaches, god. I need to stop this music.
Comment by gag – Oct 18th, 2007 at 5:33 pm
I’m one of those passionate 360 users the previous commenter mentioned. I have a friends list of over 150 people, a number of whom have friends lists of similar size. We use the service every day.
Because of the way the 360 “transition” was announced, many people assume that it will degenerate into something like that horrible MASH network Yahoo is now beta testing. Despite those among us who advocate waiting to see what the new social networking/blogging/profile platform will look like, people are jumping the 360 ship in droves. Many are heading to Multiply.com, where we can have the same features we love about 360 as well as the ones we’ve asked Yahoo to provide throughout the multi-year beta testing of Yahoo 360.
The users of Yahoo 360 are adults, not teeny-boppers. They want to blog, they want to network with other adults, and they don’t want to be assaulted by MySpace-type graphics and noise. While we do get silly on occasion, we don’t want to be assaulted by silliness as soon as we log into our social networking site.
I think an integrated profile with a blog, RSS feeds, a good search engine, and customizable modules would be a great way to get people to use the service as their first stop – their home page.
Unfortunately, because of the way it was announced, Yahoo is driving away the people who would have been most loyal.
I would like to suggest some damage control.
*Assure the users of Yahoo 360 once again that their blogs will be preserved in their entirety – that means preserving the comments to the posts as well as the posts themselves.
*Explain HOW the changes will affect current Yahoo users. If you want to keep the user base you already have, they need to know that things will be better. For instance, if Yahoo were to say something along the lines of “The ‘MyYahoo’ page will now include your profile, your blog, links to your favorite sites, and improvements to the RSS newsfeeds already available” people would probably say that the transition will be good, not that the sky is falling.
*Start actually responding to technical problems with action rather than the same, tired form letter. I have written Yahoo multiple times about the same ongoing problem with my 360 page and have never gotten any answer other than the “we’re working on it” email. It just does not take 10 months to fix a software glitch when the feature works fine elsewhere.
*Remember that your advertisers want traffic, and the best way to deliver that traffic is to have happy users of your sites. Customer service is critical. Yahoo’s users are its customers, even if the service provided is free. Respond to their concerns and problems in a positive way. Happy users result in more happy users, because word of mouth works for you. Word of mouth also works against you, and has been working against you for some time because of a lack of responsiveness to customer concerns.
*Yahoo Executives who use non-Yahoo products to make public statements do their own products no favors. The blog here on WordPress.com could be mirrored on Yahoo 360. Doing so would give the Yahoo users more confidence in the product. A big question lately is “Why don’t the Yahoo executives support their own products?” That question is followed closely by “If they don’t believe in their products, why should we?”
I like Yahoo 360 and I want to stay with Yahoo. I have built a strong network of interesting people. Wrecking the platform on which we all stand will disperse us to other places. We don’t want that, and I suspect Yahoo really doesn’t, either.
Please, give us real feedback. The company changes and the changes with Yahoo 360 affect us loyal 360 users in a very real way and on what we feel is a very personal level.
Comment by Anne Orsi – Oct 18th, 2007 at 6:33 pm
I realize that Yahoo!360 is a free site, and I appreciate that. I came to 360 almost 2 years ago, and have put alot of work into my site. It took me a long time to learn how to do alot of things on there.
Then, came the changes…Yahoo Photos closed down, forcing everyone to choose another venue…Flickr which was supposed to be free…but now I come to find out that nope…it was only free for a bit, and now I will have to shut that down because I cannot afford it.
Then the geniuses decided to create MASH and somehow mess everyone over and rip 360 away from us. You asked our opinion…and then do as you please anyhow even though the majority of users said they wanted 360 to stay. Mash, Facebook, and even MySpace is mostly for kids. I am 48 years old…I have no desire to be on a site that is for kids only! 360 has more adults on it than kids now.
So…go ahead & make your new sites, but keep 360 just like it is!!! Or if you really want to do something with 360…HOW ABOUT FIXING THE BUGS ON IT!!!!! Please?
Comment by Princess Vicki – Oct 18th, 2007 at 10:30 pm
I’ll get over being scooped, Cherei. I hope.