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Ask Slashdot: Can Yahoo Actually Stage a Comeback? 260

Posted by Soulskill
from the titans-versus-dinosaurs dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Fresh off purchasing Tumblr for $1.1 billion, Yahoo has moved to the next stage of what's becoming a company-wide reboot: fixing Flickr, the photo-sharing service that it acquired in 2005 and subsequently allowed to languish. Yahoo boosted Flickr accounts' individual storage capacity to one free terabyte, revamped the Website's overall look, and launched a new Flickr app for Google Android, among other tweaks. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer clearly wants her company to fight toe-to-toe on features with Google and Facebook, but she faces a long road ahead of her: not only does she need to streamline Yahoo's cumbersome corporate structure and product portfolio into something that resembles fighting shape, but she needs to reverse the general perception that Yahoo is teetering on the edge of history's trash-bin, with an aging customer base and unexciting features. The question is, could anyone actually pull it off? Is Yahoo capable of an Apple-style turnaround, or are its current actions merely delaying the inevitable?"
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Ask Slashdot: Can Yahoo Actually Stage a Comeback?

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  • Of course (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrEricSir (398214) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @06:00PM (#43787785) Homepage

    Yahoo *could* stage a comeback, but why? What makes a product or service from Yahoo unique?

    Can't answer that question? Of course not. Yahoo is a holding company made up of numerous acquisitions. [wikipedia.org] If there's an identity buried in there somewhere, it's a Frankenstein's monster, stitched together out of spare parts. There's nothing cohesive about Yahoo, nothing that makes it special as a company, and there never was.

    • Re:Of course (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sribe (304414) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @06:05PM (#43787865)

      Can't answer that question? Of course not. Yahoo is a holding company made up of numerous acquisitions. [wikipedia.org] If there's an identity buried in there somewhere, it's a Frankenstein's monster, stitched together out of spare parts. There's nothing cohesive about Yahoo, nothing that makes it special as a company, and there never was.

      That's all true. But the question is whether or not that can be changed ;-)

      • There's nothing cohesive about Yahoo, nothing that makes it special as a company, and there never was.

        That's all true. But the question is whether or not that can be changed ;-)

        The answer is: Does it even matter? Windows: On the desktop: "Holy crap! Fire the UI design team, wait Vista viruses work on 8? Aaaah! Don't use it for servers! What are you insane?" In Gaming: "Hmm, not to shabby. Why can't they do this on the desktop?" On Search: "What's a Bing?!" On Phones: "HA ha ha ha HA ha ha"

        So, Dr. Frankenstein's Monster seems to be the only way any things ever really done. Just look at Google. A search and ads company that wants to replicate designer Geordi Laforge vi

    • Re:Of course (Score:4, Interesting)

      by HockeyPuck (141947) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @06:25PM (#43788101)

      Yahoo *could* stage a comeback, but why? What makes a product or service from Yahoo unique?

      Can't answer that question? Of course not. Yahoo is a holding company made up of numerous acquisitions. If there's an identity buried in there somewhere, it's a Frankenstein's monster, stitched together out of spare parts. There's nothing cohesive about Yahoo, nothing that makes it special as a company, and there never was.

      So what if it's made up of acquisitions...? I doubt there's very many large companies that haven't made a significant number of acquisitions. All three with far more than 100 companies bought or merged with:

      http://www.cisco.com/web/about/doing_business/corporate_development/acquisitions/about_cisco_acquisitions.html [cisco.com]
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mergers_and_acquisitions_by_Google [wikipedia.org]
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mergers_and_acquisitions_by_IBM [wikipedia.org]

      By the way, it seems that Yahoo! has the fewest acquisitions of any of the three, including your oh so dear to your heart google.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mergers_and_acquisitions_by_Yahoo! [wikipedia.org]

      How'd you get marked insightful?

      • by Dahamma (304068)

        Yeah, but Yahoo had some of the stupidest acquisitions, starting with the $5.7B debacle known as Broadcast.com.

        The only thing of any note coming out of that deal is the Dallas Mavericks winning the NBA championship (otherwise known as "Thank you Yahoo!... you suckers! Sincerely, Mark Cuban")

    • Re:Of course (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @06:58PM (#43788477)

      I was employed with Yahoo when they made the WFH change. We were lied to even within the company. It was initially communicated permanent WFH employees would no longer be able to WFH to help drive innovation. 160-something permanent WFH people out of ~16,000 employees were suppose to make a HUGE impact on innovation?? It became clear shortly after the announcement that it was BS. The real reason was communicated a few days later. They made the decision after looking at the VPN logs and saw people WFH weren't even logging in. Not necessarily the permanent WFH people, just in general. It wasn't a stealth layoff, it was a get people to actually do their work.

      Do I think Yahoo will make a comeback? Absolutely not. There is way too much dysfunction in that company to fix.

      • If SSH is working properly you don't need a VPN. In fact if your service is so insecure that it needs a VPN then it probably shouldn't be connected to the net in the first place. Same goes for Git, SVN and other versioning. I can think of dozens of work activities that would never need to use a VPN. The whole premise of low VPN usage smacks of MBA-driven ignorance and Windows quirks.
    • Yahoo *could* stage a comeback, but why? What makes a product or service from Yahoo unique?

      Frankly, you could ask the same question, substituting "Google", and give the same answer.

      The only real difference between them is Google is (and inexplicably remains) a darling of the soi-disant technorati. Hence the constant stream of comments like yours and those in the summary. In reality, Yahoo! is much like Facebook, doing decently despite the fact that a narrow and shallow demographic disapproves of i

      • For starters, people actually use and like Google's products. Everyone uses Google search - everyone. There is a reason "to Google" is a verb people use in daily life and "to Bing" is not unless it is being forced down someone's throat by product placement. People use GMail en masse, again because they like it, not because people are telling them to or because it came with their ISP. People actively MOVE to GMail and make new accounts. Who uses Yahoo mail besides people trying to keep a decade-old email add

    • Re:Of course (Score:4, Informative)

      by LWATCDR (28044) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @09:14PM (#43789487) Homepage Journal

      Except that it made $3.370.000,000 in net profit. I have to wonder why people keep talking about can Yahoo stage a comeback. It is still making a lot of money. I wish I was failing by only making 3.75 billion dollars.

    • What makes a product or service from Yahoo unique?

      I'm kinda partial to their chocolate 'Yahoo' drink that comes in the glass bottle at the convenience store.

    • by gronofer (838299)
      Customer service, perhaps? What do you do when Google closes your account for no obvious reason, as people have reported? They won't reply to your emails. I don't have a lot of experience dealing with Yahoo, but a recent email to fix a login problem with a service I haven't used in years, did actually get a useful reply.
    • What makes a product or service from Yahoo unique?

      Flickr for one is now unique. It was not before. But the new all-out focus on always seeing the largest image possible is quite different than any other photo sharing site. All of the others, even 500px, drill down into a single image view with a small image, Yahoo displays as much as possible in the window it is given.

    • Yahoo *could* stage a comeback

      Indeed.

      Broadcast.com (that Yahoo payed $5billion for) was the premier video site and *could* take over Netflix +Youtube.

      Geocities (that Yahoo paid $3-4billion for) was the premier social networking site, and *could* take over MySpace and Facebook.

      Altavista (that Yahoo bought along with Overture) was the premier search inge, and *could* take over Bing and Google.

      But it's Yahoo, so they won't.

  • 1) Make copycat Internet company (say... copy Pandora)
    2) Name it after a verb with a grammatically incorrect "er" (how about... Castr)
    3) Get bought by Yahoo
    4) Profit!

  • by bmo (77928)

    TLDR: no.

    Longer answer: No.

    Why?

    Leadership. There is none.

    So... no.

    --
    BMO

  • They redesigned their webpage? Well great, approximately no one was complaining about the page being ugly. Meanwhile flickr has yet to embrace this tablet trend. That's right, there's still no ipad app. If you want to use your ipad to look at your photos... you can do that. Using the iphone app. Half resolution.

    I'm really surprised at that. Tablets are good for little more than looking at pictures and video, and the ipad is the most popular tablet. Annoucing a revamp of flickr by redesigning th
    • Or, you can use Safari. I have both an iPad 3 and an iPhone, and find that site-specific apps are far less necessary on the iPad, since the screen is big enough that most sites work reasonably well. As to whether that is the case with Flickr site specifically, I'm not sure.

      • Also true. And i haven't tried the new site with the ipad. Maybe it is better. Alright, I realize that it's not really that important. Still, odd exception.
  • The new Flickr update turns it into Facebook. It is now totally worthless as a photo site. There are hundreds of pages of scathing posts in the comments on the new layout.
  • Can it grow? Sure. Can it grow significantly? Sure! Can it be the next Facebook/Google? Maybe.. doubtful.

  • Well, of course it's actions are delaying the inevitable. That's all any company's actions do. Just like, we're all dying, just some faster than others.

  • by Tablizer (95088) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @06:38PM (#43788261) Homepage Journal

    Yahoo had the perfect opportunity for roll-your-sites and social networks. Geocities and related services were popular in the late 90's, but they didn't improve the products, such as making them more click-to-build etc. so users didn't have to learn HTML. They sat on it and it rotted. They also had a reputation for crappy customer service. They could have been the next Facebook + Google.

  • Parts of Yahoo can certainly survive and thrive, but the problem is, Yahoo has no cohesion when compared to Google/MS. Parts of Yahoo are actually quite good like Flickr, but then there's parts of Yahoo that are absolute crap when compared to Google and Microsoft's offerings such as their e-mail service.
  • No. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @06:50PM (#43788389) Homepage

    Not with the complete Moron CEO they have. That woman has no idea how to run a business. You do NOT insult your customers to gain market share...

    Her Comments , “There’s no such thing as Flickr Pro today because [with so many people taking photographs] there’s really no such thing as professional photographers anymore...”

    I really hope someone told her that she was a complete idiot for saying those words at a press conference.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bohnanza (523456)
      She is hot, though.
    • Indeed. Apple, EA, MS, Facebook, AT&T, Verizon and Sony for example all insulted their customer bases in various ways, some of which were outright insults in press conferences, and immediately went belly up. ~

      Flickr can, in fact, get rid of the high-power users in exchange for more of the instagram crowd and gain marketshare and profits. The changes seem to be aimed squarely at that. Yahoo undoubtedly has far more data on their users than we do. Whether the decision is based on a reasonable inter
  • To add facebook to my Flickr account, it _only_ wants access to this: Yahoo! would like to access your public profile, friend list, News Feed, birthday, work history, status updates, education history, events, groups, interests, current city, religious and political views, personal description, likes and your friends' birthdays, work histories, status updates, education histories, events and current cities. Yahoo! would like to post on your behalf. O.o Get with the times
  • The new and improved Yarrrrhoo! can embrace a new synergy of proactive distributed cloud sharing. 'Rissa Dot Com, CEO for a new era.
  • by AdamHaun (43173) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @07:05PM (#43788569) Journal

    Apple started off making computers (or maybe "integrated hardware/software experiences" is a better way to put it). After their comeback, they still made computers. Now their big thing is portable computers -- a big change, but still related to what they always did. Their focus is on design and UX expertise.

    Yahoo started off making a hierarchical directory of web sites, then dove into the web portal craze of the late 1990s. After their comeback, they will ___________. Their focus is on ___________.

    Fill in the blanks. It's not going to be what they did before, because nobody wants more hierarchical web directories and portals. They have a bunch of people still using their webmail, so that's one option. GMail wiped the floor with them before, but it's been getting clunky lately thanks to G+. Yahoo could try to recapture the clean simplicity of Google's early days. That would be a big challenge indeed -- as a portal company, the idea of leaving blank space on a web page is utterly alien to them.

    It looks like they're producing independent news. That's an interesting option -- they could compete with the Huffington Post et al. Online news is still based strongly on newspapers, so there's room for someone to shake up the format.

    This all seems like a stretch, though. Yahoo's name has little value, and their current expertise isn't very helpful. All they bring to the table is more money than a startup, but it probably won't be enough to save them. Then again, that's what I said about Apple too.

    • by neurovish (315867)

      social and cloud?

    • After their comeback, they will ___________. Their focus is on ___________.

      After their comeback, they will HIRE Time Berners Lee. Their focus is on the Semantic Web.

      Why would the inventor of the WWW work for Yahoo?
      Because you give him ALL the resources to make his dream a coherent reality.

      Long shot for sure, but its what I would do.

    • by steelfood (895457)

      What saved Apple was a leader with creativity and vision, and a rabid fan base.

      I don't know if Yahoo has the former, but I can tell you with certainty that they don't have the latter. They have a solid user base, but they're by no means fans. Which means that they cannot afford to make as many mistakes as Apple could.

  • ...in the meantime, they're throwing ads on the site unless you want to pay $50/year (current, well former, cost for Pro with unlimited storage is $25/year), and if you want twice as much space, then that will be $500. Personally, I was fine with the way that flickr was. Now I need a plan to rescue all my photos on there while I wait and see if I want to stick around the new ad-based site.

  • There is no service they offer I'd go to use. Not search, not email. They don't have an OS. Love or hate MS, they at least have draw. There isn't much that would get me to use Yahoos services.
  • I think I see a trend here:

    http://money.cnn.com/gallery/magazines/fortune/2013/05/21/5-worst-internet-acquisitions-of-all-time.fortune/index.html [cnn.com]

    TOP 5 WORST INTERNET ACQUISITIONS

    Yahoo bough Broadcast.com, an online television site founded by Mark Cuban, for $5.7 billion in 1999

    Yahoo acquired GeoCities for $3.6 billion

    TOP 5 BEST INTERNET ACQUISITIONS

    Google's acquisition of Android, the mobile operating system maker, was miniscule at an estimated $50 million. But the deal eight years ago
  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @09:07PM (#43789449) Journal
    It all depends on how fast Facebook collapses.
  • Seems doubtful to me. Yahoogroups is the only thing I use made by Yahoo, and they don't really "make" it as such. The content is all from other users. Yahoo hasn't done a good job monetizing it either. They happily send me a digest every so often which has no branding or ads or anything.

    Clearly some sort of brilliant minimalist marketing strategy I don't comprehend.

    My ISP converted all their email accounts over to Yahoo, but I don't exactly use Yahoo for that either. I have Gmail POP it. From my persp

  • Slashdot should stage a comeback.

  • by King_TJ (85913) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @10:24PM (#43789981) Journal

    One of my friends started his own venture capital business years ago, after a long career in corporate I.T. (He focuses on funding educational related projects.)

    We were talking a bit about the recent changes at Yahoo, and I know his opinion is that the Tumblr purchase is ill-advised. and looks like it cost the company pretty much all of the available capital it had to spend. After that, I don't think Yahoo is in a financial position to do much more in the way of acquiring anything else. They've got to make do with revamping what they already own (and maybe they think talent obtained from Tumbler will help towards that end?).

    The thing is, Yahoo spent FAR too long concerning themselves with convincing people their "branding" was still relevant, and thought they could somehow "win" simply by reminding folks to consider them for search queries. (Remember all the annoying "Yaaaaahhhhhoooooooo!" ads on TV?)

    Now, even if the current CEO is trying to make serious changes, I think it's going to be too little, too late. Figuring out a way to monetize Tumblr is a full-time job in itself -- and one you MIGHT want to take on if you were an otherwise profitable and successful company. But Yahoo seems like they just bought themselves a big database of porn and pet pictures that has a relatively short shelf-life, before it's not "trendy" to use anymore and the user-base moves on to something else.

    Flickr really was a significantly good service they owned. I knew quite a few photographers who religiously uploaded their work to Flickr (typically with a Pro account since they wanted more storage space and ability to put full resolution photos up). But as they let it stagnate, all sorts of other "Johnny come lately" photo sharing services popped up -- many integrated real tightly with mobile phones, which have become the #1 device used to take photos in the first place.

    The press-conference "slam" against pro photographers tells me Yahoo still thinks it needs to cater to the mainstream -- exactly the group they'll have the most competition with. Bad move. If they really enhanced a paid, "Pro" side of the service and kept it cheaper than alternatives -- I know a LOT of people who have at least a second job dealing in photography who'd sign up and use it.

    Email is a non-starter at this point. Lots of us still have yahoo email accounts, but it's very often just because of old partnerships they struck with ISPs like the regional Bell telephone companies and later AT&T. You ordered your DSL service? You got a Yahoo email with it. Yahoo Groups had a good run but again, they let it pretty much die off. I used to use it occasionally until the groups all seemed to fill rapidly with spam, and upload/download speeds on attachments got so pitifully slow, you wondered if the whole thing ran on an old Pentium 3 in someone's basement. They only get search queries, by and large, because they manage to work deals to keep it a "default" search engine in various programs. None of their stuff really stands out as a tool you want to use that you can't get elsewhere.

    • Marissa Meyer's tumblr purchase strategy isn't nuts, just the price ($1.1 billion?!?!)

      Meyer wants to improve Yahoo's current products, and move Yahoo to a focused social media/portal platform. She's counting on Yahoo grabbing a piece of the mobile social media pie, which no big player has right now. (Google would be closest.) This is what will fuel Yahoo's "comeback" into relevance. The problem is that Yahoo has zero product presence in mobile. She's buying tumblr as an infrastructure purchase.

      The ne

    • by coofercat (719737)

      I'm ex-Yahoo, and I know first hand how utterly rotten the culture was when I left. I once was on a mission to decom a handful of crappy servers running some really crappy code. They were once, in the mists of time, used to perform some tracking on a particular campaign, and were the brain-child of an idiot architect. They cost money to run, so I tried to find who consumed the information they produced. I checked around, and actually found people very helpful - it turns out, no one was using the data, so I

  • Flickr's reboot came with the new iPhone app, which was completely unexpected in that, it 's actually damn good. Same with Yahoo weather. Yes, Flickr has decided that they're not courting Pro customers. They'd already lost that market 2 years ago, so it's no skin off their nose. They don't WANT you to buy pro, they need the ad revenue and impressions far more.
  • You cannot buy yourself a comeback, unless you own a sports team. Just ask the board of HP. They have been trying to bail out the water of the SS HP for a long time for a comeback. How has the Compaq purchase made HP stronger? Or the EDS? Or Autonomy? The list is long in the tear along the bow of ship.

    But back to Yahoo. Your ship is still listing.
  • Apple did.

    Make cool stuff that people want to use. It's not rocket science, it's just that there's so much dead weight in most companies living inside the company bubble with wrongheaded ideas about what the public wants and overvalued MBA degrees that it's rare.

    A bit of hard data, a bit of freedom for forward-thinking designers and developers, including the realization that they need to be aggressive, not conservative, update/relaunch products at 2013 speeds (as opposed to 1994 speeds), and embrace things

  • A few weeks ago I e-mailed my wife's yahoo account, from my Google account, to ask her if a house we're buying has an alarm system. A few hours later I received an e-mailed advertisement from ADT in my Yahoo spam folder. How does this happen? Its not this one incident, my Yahoo spam generally tracks with what I've been e-mailing people about.

    The answer to this question aside, I find Yahoo to be increasingly sleazy and malware-like. I hope that Yahoo can't make a comeback without cleaning up their act.

  • Google has become a cancer that needs fighting. Someone needs to given a serious challenge.

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