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Ask Slashdot: Can Yahoo Actually Stage a Comeback? 260

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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  • 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?

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

    by longk ( 2637033 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @06:27PM (#43788137)

    IMHO that's just her way of waking everybody up and making it clear this boat is changing its course. With time, I'm sure people will be working remotely once again.

  • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @06:46PM (#43788351)

    There's always an exception somewhere. Steve Jobs, love him or hate him, was a uniquely talented individual, and if Apple hadn't brought him back the way they did, they would indeed have died years ago. I seriously doubt this Marissa Mayer is this sort of uniquely talented person. Moreover, Apple has always had a bit of a cult around it due to the qualities of its products (remember, their whole goal was to make computers that regular people could use for work and everyday tasks, hence their extreme focus on UI and UX from way back when Jobs toured PARC). Yahoo doesn't have anything like this; its whole claim to fame was that it was a web portal back in the days before Google and search engines; essentially it started out as a giant web directory. This whole concept is totally obsolete now, so they tried to pitch themselves as a "front page" to the internet, but not many people care about that any more.

    The only way I see them surviving is if they use the cash they still have and re-invent themselves into something different, mostly abandoning this "web portal" crap. I have no idea what that would be, however, and since really revolutionary ideas (like Facebook, Twitter, etc.) never come from large, established corporations, but rather from tiny start-ups, I think their days are very numbered.

  • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @09:34PM (#43789659)

    No, because history shows that big corporations buying start-ups never turns out well. The big corp has no idea how to effectively use the new start-up, and its potential (assuming it had any) ends up being wasted.

    Of course, most start-ups go nowhere too. But of those lucky few that succeed, we do get things like Google, Yahoo (back when they were successful), and Facebook (ugh).

  • 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.

  • by WaywardGeek ( 1480513 ) on Tuesday May 21, 2013 @11:51PM (#43790477) Journal

    I agree on all points. However, I don't know what I'm talking about, as results clearly show. Back in either 1998 or 2000 (my wife and disagree as to which party it was), I told a young grad student from Stanford that Yahoo was not only dominating, but would continue to dominate if they did nothing other than buy up all promising new web sites and technologies. This geek was dumb enough to work for stock as the first employee of a company founded by two professors -- yeah, like that ever works. Their big plan was taking on Yahoo and winning, when they had pretty much no capital and from what I could tell, no clue. I knew enough about decent marketing to know they'd be crushed by Yahoo's money. That kid was the first Google employee. So, take whatever I believe, for instance that Yahoo is now clearly doomed, and run the other way.

Truth is free, but information costs.