Thursday, September 8, 2011

Yahoo, Great Name, Dark Future? (Short Take)

Why Isn't Carol Bartz, Yahoo's New CEO, on Flickr?
The big news recently in the tech world has mostly centered on Yahoo and their firing of CEO Carol Bartz and the subsequent "For Sale" sign Yahoo's board of directors put up. I wonder if Microsoft would still be interested? If they are I doubt they'll be offering $33 a share this time around.

Technology companies have a nasty habit of losing their way and becoming increasingly irrelevant. Companies like Commodore, DEC and Altavista all had their day in the sun but were eventually bought or liquidated by healthier competitors. If you're not nimble, flexible and agile you will be eliminated or adapt. It's really that simple.

Yahoo faces a fundamental problem in that they really don't have a game plan. Bartz trimmed a little fat and then basically seemed to go into a holding pattern. That wasn't what the company needed and the only real surprise here is it took Yahoo's board so long to get around to firing her.

If Yahoo does go the sale route I'm going to predict they'll break the company up into parts. Flikr is valuable and a lot of people still get their news and email from Yahoo.

One thing to keep in mind is that people like you and I are not Yahoo's customers. Their real customers are the companies that buy advertising. Any road Yahoo takes is going to have to acknowledge and address that fact. If they don't start doing a better job of providing for their customers they will continue to decline.

No situation is totally hopeless. Steve Jobs proved that when he returned to Apple. It is going to take a very special person to right this ship though or Yahoo is going to be broken up into parts and sold off to the highest bidders in the next few years.

Image by Thomas Hawk via Flickr
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