So while I was working out for the first time in forever earlier tonight (thank you fall cold), the CNBC people had a breaking news item that Jerry Yang dropped out as CEO of Yahoo! I’m out of the shower now and, to no surprise, TechCrunch had it blasted on their front page. Yang will step down and take his old job as Chief Yahoo (really?), and the search is on for a replacement CEO. Is it too little too late? I’m not sure. When I think about the history of Yahoo! and my experiences with them, I’m leaning toward yes.
Yahoo! for me back in the day started out as the search engine to end all search engines. Well, actually it was an index first before it became a search engine. They competed with the likes of Alta Vista and came out on top. When you’re on top, the only thing you can do is expand your business. And boy did Yahoo! ever. They started spitting out products left and right. I still use some of their products today. Their mail and messenger application being among the set.
But with every neat and cool application that came out, there were some duds. Their Groups community was cool but I never really took to it, even though I was active in a group for my Introduction to Artificial Intelligence class. Yahoo! was the first to introduce the concept of a ‘Profile’ but it was always hard to find and never really consistent, which is the biggest problem with Yahoo! They branched out but could never keep things consistent across all of their properties.
I enjoy BrightKite thouroughly (follow me at http://brightkite.com/people/hokey) , and when Yahoo! came out with a competitor, Fire Eagle, I jumped in as soon as I could in the hopes of integrating that with my messenger profile and other areas of Yahoo! But there was no integration at all. This kind of fragmentation is what burned Rome down and I’m fairly certain that it also dropped Yahoo! down to where it is now.
I hope when Yahoo! finds a new CEO, I hope they start first with consolidating every property across Yahoo! They are consistent in some places and they excel at those places. Yahoo! Games is still very popular and the Fantasy Sports area is the best of its kind. They are going to need some help, and they are taking a step in the right direction by implementing their Yahoo! Open Strategy. Let’s hope they turn it around.