Mayer’s Lemonade

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Now that Marissa Mayer is becoming the next CEO of Yahoo, it made me wonder if the publicity this move will generate is BIGGER than the actual ability of Yahoo to survive in the Web 2.0 world. i.e. does the hoopla outweigh the substance?

Yahoo appears to be floating around in the Web 2.0. Not really going in one direction, merely sloshing around to stay relevant.  I personally don’t use Yahoo any more, which by no means is the best indicator.  I’m not a huge Twitter user either and that would seem to fly in the face of Twitter’s own ascendence in the Web 2.0 world! BUT, Yahoo’s recent string of unsuccessful reforges and sour strategic missteps (rejecting Microsoft’s acquisition offer) leads me to wonder…

Are they a search engine? Well yes, but they are no longer the big kahuna on that block.  Microsoft even licenses Bing to underpin Yahoo’s site. Are they a content source? Well yes, but again, that space is so fragmented either by news sources, blogs or even more social platforms that their Top 5 ranking in website traffic seems misleading.  Are they an email platform?  Well, yes to that too.  Again, not really the biggest player there either.  Or what about Social, etc.? The eyeballs that come to the site seem to provide enough in terms of ad revenues to support this unclear strategy for the last 3-4 years.

So what is the defining value proposition or characteristic that will allow Yahoo to go it alone and continue to reach consumers?

I’m interested to see what Mayer can actually squeeze out of Yahoo on the technology side. Yahoo’s DNA still has some technology innovation inside. And it’s reported that Mayer’s engineering background and Google pedigree will definitely lead to a more technology focused Yahoo. Less on the  content/media as her immediate predecessors.  But, can she find that winning balance or combination of all of Yahoo’s disparate parts?  Some sweet combination of Email, Yahoo Groups, content, News, ad data, etc.  The first 90-100 days of Mayer’s leadership should be a good indicator if she’s able to make some “strategic lemonade” out of what has been just a bunch of “tactical lemons” most recently.

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