Right on to Jerry – this is exactly what I'll be telling Jerry – when I get to see him.
If I got to run Yahoo for a day, here's what I'd do.
rip out the stovepiped, competitive, product-aligned management and P/L
structure that has existed forever there and install structures and
measures that would reward cross-product integration. That way,
many services would share more than a common login. Yahoo Groups would
know the same people who are in my Yahoo Mail address book (and in all
other Yahoo services that use people's names, such as Games, Clubs,
Calendar, Photos, Auctions, Classifieds, Small Business, PayDirect, the
- I could know what I'm doing with
each person in different contexts and services, which would let me
easily create groups and give them rights and resources as needed.
- Yahoo could build power tools that integrate its many services. We could see private media guides, souped-up personal financial assistants, neighborhood tech support and more.
Then I'd build an interface layer “above” the newly integrated platform, a set of APIs
(Application Programming Interfaces) that would allow third parties to
build applications atop Yahoo's many services. Then I'd steal a page
from the playbooks that helped build huge developer and value-added
communities around the DEC VAX, IBM AS/400, Lotus Notes and that Microsoft operating system. Make Yahoo the hosting service of choice for small and medium sized businesses worldwide.
Of course, this might take more than one day.
I wish I had posted this when it first came to mind, back when Terry Semel took over from Tim Koogle in May 2001. Semel's done a notable job turning Yahoo around,
but in the process he has turned it into a… well, a bit of a tart.
Now ads eat up a quarter of your screen on Yahoo properties, all the
marketing feels increasingly intrusive and whatever goodwill Yahoo had
earned with its users must be pretty much shot.
This wasn't too difficult to predict, given Semel's Hollywood background, and maybe it was the only way to keep the ship from sinking. But I had bigger hopes.