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Yahoo CEO Speaks Up about Shake Up 88

Posted by Zonk
from the just-a-little-bit-nervous dept.
cvos writes "Yahoo has been under fire recently. The common wisdom is that they are losing marketshare to Google, and now MSN. Many executives have departed in the last few weeks, and Yahoo has received a lot of unfavorable press. Their CEO let out a (unintentional) personal and heated response to media critics." From the article: "At the next all-hands. Just as a reminder. I'm sorry I didn't do it today. I'm gonna put up there all of the press reports on how Yahoo! was going out of business 5 years ago. And of how we were gonna be swallowed up by AOL, owned by Time-Warner, and by Microsoft, and by everybody else. And Yahoo! looked like it had a dim future. Well those headlines, of course, were used to wrap a lot of fish in a lot of people's houses, as the expression goes. And they were all full of [expletive deleted], and they had no idea what we had planned for them. And they do not now as well!"
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Yahoo CEO Speaks Up About Shake Up

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  • "Well those headlines, of course, were used to wrap a lot of fish in a lot of people's houses, as the expression goes." I'm sorry. I'm not at ALL familiar with that expression. Maybe that's why they didn't do so well (they were too worried about fish in people's houses)?
    • He's talking about the practice of calling shoddy newspapers (like the National Enquirer, The Weekly World News, etc) "fish wrappers", because they are good for nothing but wrapping fish in.

      If you didn't know because you don't frequent a market - when you buy fish at a live market, it's common practice to give it to the customer wrapped in newspaper. I don't know why exactly, maybe it absorbs the smell or something.

      • In the UK this sort of expression is related to how fish and chips always came wrapped in newspaper. It still does in some places, although usually they use more sanitary methods these days.
        • by fyngyrz (762201) *

          Honestly, I stopped using Yahoo when the original beautiful user-supplied index became a pay-to-link operation. Soon, instead of cool little places you'd never heard of that had something unique to offer, it was nothing but an index of larger commercial sites. Many interesting sites I still had in my bookmarks that I knew were still active disappeared from the index, and Yahoo failed to answer even the plainest on inquiries about the index. Anything they did after that I ignored. And of course, then Google

          • by Anonymous Coward

            then finally the open directory project came along and replaced what Yahoo used to be good for.

            Except that ODP sucks due to editors who are partial and block entry of competitors or competitors of friends and/or associates. Not only that, back when they were having server problems and it was difficult to submit a site due to server timeouts, their recommendation was to keep submittign and resubmitting until the browser reports successful submission. Of course, following their advice resulted in many, many s

      • by rp (29053)
        The saying is not about shoddy newspapers, but about news in general: today's news is tomorrow's fish-wrap.

        I've been trying to track its origin but didn't succeed.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by mmmiiikkkeee (930217)
      so long Yahoo! and thanks for all the fish
  • it's OK, dude, don't overreact, we don't want any chairs to become airborne.
    Personally I think he is right though, Yahoo has enough revenue sources to stay with us for quite some time and with all that money that can afford to at least try and build new interesting stuff.
  • by DAldredge (2353)
    the re'design' of tv.yahoo.com shows how out of touch yahoo? has become.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rolfwind (528248)
      Is Yahoo also be falling behind Gmail in their webbased mail client (in terms of "customers")?

      In order to catch up to Gmail, they had a new interface available in Beta for a while, but IMO it's worse than the original.

      And there My Yahoo page is something I configured once and never used again because it was faster searching for the info I want. Maybe they're still stuck with the internet portal idea from the 90s, which itself probably got inspired by AOL or some such.
    • I think Y!'s latest re-design has emphasized form over function. It looks like the original founder's vision has been lost, to PHBs who think pages should look pretty.

      I don't understand why anyone would think that this new, more busy, interface is better, given Google's success with their sparse layout.

      I know that I have changed my home page from Yahoo to Google as a result of the re-design. I also know that many people reading the financial boards have moved to other venues.
    • by interiot (50685)
      The redesign of tv.yahoo.com is terrible. I've never seen a website go from near the head of the pack to last place so quickly. One wonders why they failed to get any sort of feedback from end users before rolling out the change.
    • by mrtexe (1032978) *
      Yes. Forget tv.yahoo.com.

      A good alternative is tvlistings.zap2it.com [zap2it.com]. Just search for your zip code.
    • by kimanaw (795600)
      Actually, this whole episode - including the AJAX trainwreck known as the "tv.yahoo.com beta", and the firing of the entertainment division head - may be better explained by understanding Mr. Semel's background [wikipedia.org]. Yahoo seems intent on becoming an entertainment company, and thinks that shoving the garbage witnessed at tv.yahoo.com in users faces is the way to improve revenue.

      In the same way network television shoves braindead reality TV and retread sitcoms sandwiched between hours of commercials.

      Or the w

    • And their maps too. They are trying to emulate google now, and doing a horrible job. For example type "washington, dc" in google maps, and it takes you there. Do the same with yahoo...you get a crapload of business 'map pins'. Good luck at actually finding the city center you were actually looking for.

      Hopefully google will come up with a nice tv listing. I haven't found any that were as nice as what yahoo *used* to have yet. Excite won't remember settings unless you are a member, titantv is too busy w
      • by tigga (559880)
        For example type "washington, dc" in google maps, and it takes you there. Do the same with yahoo...you get a crapload of business 'map pins'.

        I've checked your words. They do not appear to be true. maps.yahoo.com just showed regular map without any pins. Perhaps you've setup it's interface to show everything there?

    • Yahoo has been spiraling down for the last year.

      About a year ago, I noticed that some of the Groups navigation text had changed to a pale blue. WTF? I'm having a hard time reading it. Then I noticed that the navigation is split between the left and right sides of the screen. I navigate within a group on the left and between my groups on the right. The Admin interface needs work too. For spammers, how about a button that drops the spammer AND all their posts? A few hundred thousand Admins would tha

  • by Salvance (1014001) * on Saturday December 09, 2006 @03:18PM (#17176444) Homepage Journal
    Sounds like he didn't get the memo yet that he's been canned.

    CEOs always beat their chests and yell the loudest when they're on their way out. Yahoo's newest "strategy" is junk, and they need some fresh leadership at the top, rather than just getting rid of all his subordinates who have worked their tails off to follow an ill-thought prior strategy.
    • by Threni (635302)
      Yahoo is such a lame company. When do you think they'll stop offering tickets to the 2006 World Cup in the sigfiles they append to outgoing Yahoo email?

  • by diskofish (1037768)
    Give the guy a break. Sure he is being a little brash, but don't we all get the chance to do that every now and then? Instead, why not find a news worthy subject to report on instead of someone's comment from an internal meeting?
  • by Timesprout (579035) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @03:21PM (#17176496)
    I've heard our strategy described as spreading [shit] across the myriad opportunities that continue to evolve in the online world. The result: a thin layer of [shit] spread across everything we do and thus we [shit] on nothing in particular. I hate [shit]. We all should.
    Some of the stuff emanating from Yahoo recently (Peanut butter memo) actually makes more sense with expletives inserted.
  • That memo exemplifies everything I see wrong at Yahoo form my external vantage point. It's substanceless internal boosterism. "We're great! We're really great! I can't say exactly why we're great, but this is a fantastic company and all the rumors of our imminent death are premature because we're great!"

    So, what exactly does Yahoo do, precisely, that's so great? Anything? I certainly haven't seen anything mentioned that they do at all well aside from possibly their financial stuff.

    • by lunenburg (37393)
      Their fantasy sports are very good. That's really the only thing I use Yahoo for any more.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dhuv (241988)
      1. I think what he was angry about is that people are speculating about his company without knowing enough about whats going on inside it. Now I know that's what speculation is, but it obviously offended him because they have been saying these things in the past and never coming true. What probably upset him was that other people actually listen to these people who have a track record of bad guessing.

      2. I don't know why people think that in order to be a successful profitable company, it has to be the best
      • The thing is, that with the sort of stuff Yahoo! is engaged in, there's no real reason for people to stick with the second best. In general, the offerigs are free, so people don't feel compelled to stay to get their money's worth. To get to a competitor is just as hard as typing in a different URL. The one exception is email, as people don't like having to get their friends to use a new email address. But if Yahoo! drops to second-best in search, everyone's just going to use the best search engine. If it dr
        • by Moochman (54872)
          Yahoo's main advantage is actually that they have their fingers in so many pies. From a user perspective it actually does make things easier since everything is integrated. I know, because I use a variety of Yahoo services. Example: I can sign on once and access my email, my photos, and my Yahoo Groups account, and I can even add a photo album from my Yahoo Photos to my Yahoo Groups. I could also see at all times when any of my Yahoo-using friends are online with Yahoo Messenger (although unfortunately
    • by jonbryce (703250)
      Their financial stuff certainly, as you pointed out.

      Also their classified ads sections are pretty good, in the uk anyway.
    • Yahoo makes money. Lots of it. That's what they do great. that is why Yahoo isn't dying. Also they get 500 million unique users a day on the world's most popular web site. Something is being done right...
      • by hritcu (871613)

        Also they get 500 million unique users a day on the world's most popular web site.

        Didn't know why, but this affirmation seemed to me like bullshit. Until I found this [alexa.com]:

        Where do people go on yahoo.com?
        mail.yahoo.com - 48%

        ...
        This explains everything. They have a very large user base that does email there (and maybe instant messaging). Many of these need to stick with Yahoo! just because Yahoo! does not offer free email forwarding. Gmail offered forwarding from day one, so i switched right away to avo

        • by TheLink (130905)
          Yahoo mail has been pretty decent - you can still use it without javascript enabled, unlike gmail which AFAIK requires it (I haven't bothered logging in for a long while), the Yahoo removes their "plain old version" might be the day I switch to something else. I see no reason why javascript should be required just to check and read email.

          In contrast, Hotmail is pretty crappy, and Yahoo Messenger has been more reliable than MSN Messenger.
          • by hritcu (871613)
            Yahoo mail has been pretty decent - you can still use it without javascript enabled, unlike gmail which AFAIK requires
            Gmail has and always had an html-only version [google.com]. You can read more about it here [google.com].
            • by TheLink (130905)
              It's been a long while since I last checked my gmail, and I don't recall having an easy way to use the html only version from Mozilla/IE, if it actually existed when I tried.
            • by TheLink (130905)
              OK looks like they changed stuff - it now sends my browser to an html-only version. It never used to do that when I first used gmail which was two years ago, so I pretty much gave up on it.

              Well maybe I'll start using it now :).
  • From the /. intro:
    And they were all full of [expletive deleted], and they had no idea what we had planned for them. And they do not now as well!"
    FTA:
    And they were all full of shit, and they had no idea what we had planned for them. And they do not now as well!
    btw; he is right.
  • Much as his "speaking up" might be seen as a good thing, for Yahoo, they continue to be blinded by bigotry and incompetence.

    One might wonder why for example, Yahoo will not support Firefox on any platform despite the fact that it's now captured more than 20% of the European browser market. Whenever on tries their Launchast service with Firefox, he's met with an "Error code: 24"!

    This happens even when the so called ActiveX plugin is installed on Windows. One wonders whether there is nothing like testing be

    • by Moochman (54872)
      Actually, Yahoo's Mail Beta and Photos Beta both do a fabulous job of supporting Firefox--the Photos site actually provides a Firefox Extension that lets you drag-and-drop photos onto your browser. What's not so good, unfortunately, is the Mail beta's support for browsers other than the big 3 (IE, Firefox, Opera)--try using it with Konquerer, for instance, and you're out of luck.
  • On one hand, I actually think it's too bad that this was apparently unintentionally leaked. This is the sort of response I would want to see from the leader of my company. Taking an interest in the future, and what others think, that is far better in my opinion than sitting at the top and not showing any interest. Throwing in the expletives and keeping it terse just serves to make him seem more human as well.

    At the same time, I agree with others that I have seen many execs yelling their loudest right on
  • by JustNiz (692889) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @03:37PM (#17176702)
    what yahoo actually does that isn't done better by someone else or just totally redundant?
    To me they seem to be a sort of second AOL.
    • they *used* to do tv listings better than anybody else. And until google maps came out, they were better than mapquest for that. They are still the best place for movie listings (that likely won't last long, given what happened to tv.yahoo.com), and are still decent with weather (although, I use weather underground now).

      In fact, before google came out with maps, I used to use google for searches, and yahoo for pretty much everything else. It was a good balance, using each for what they excelled at.

      Alta v
  • "Yeah they're all right, Yahoo is screwed. Sell your shares now". I don't know the details about this but never take the word of the CEO on anything.
  • Duh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @03:41PM (#17176746) Homepage
    Not knocking the guy, he has a responsibility to the shareholders that he is appeasing...but lets say for example that Yahoo really didn't have big plans up its sleeve and was in trouble, would he really be saying anything different?

  • I don't mean this as a troll. I'm not a yahoo-hater by any means. I actually used them pretty frequently back in '97, when the web was young =).

    My point is this: can anyone explain to me what precisely yahoo contributes to the internet nowadays? Microsoft (love them or hate them) just said hey, here's a new operating system. Google says hey, here's a new approach to email. Youtube says hey, here's a new way to share video. Even if you're a rabid fan or a hater of any of those companies, you have to ad
    • by vidarh (309115)
      everyone knows them as a search company

      Who are these "everyone" of which you speak?

      Fact is, neither the majority of Yahoo's traffic, nor the majority of Yahoo's revenues, are coming from search. Search is important, yes, but Yahoo's strength has been that they're one of the few major players that's diversified across a very broad set of services.

      Some argument can be made that they've overstretched, but over the last few years Yahoo's strategy has very clearly been to ensure the company gets more legs

    • by shudde (915065)

      My point is this: can anyone explain to me what precisely yahoo contributes to the internet nowadays?

      To be honest I'd completely forgotten yahoo existed. Thankfully I managed to dredge up a link.

      http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=yahoo&btnG=Go ogle+Search&meta= [google.com] gave me a reference to http://www.yahoo.com/ [yahoo.com].

      I'd strongly suggest not clicking on the second, it appears to be a linkfarm.

    • by hikerhat (678157)
      They've provided me with the same email address for at least six years, for free. I can never remember a time when their email system has been down. So I assume all those thousands (I assume they have thousands) of people are keeping an eye on the email server. When the the server looks like it is crashing they swing into action, grabbing a new server off a dell loading dock, and pass it, fire brigade style, to the email server room where a tech plugs it in, restores a norton ghost image labeled 'email serv
  • Geez, Yahoo! must really be in a perilous state if they let themselves be run by a CEO who sounds like a 12 year old boy on a sugar rush.

    He seriously needs better English writing skills.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @03:49PM (#17176854) Homepage Journal
    What has Yahoo done for the past 5 years to stay alive? Certainly nothing to justify the vast money it raised in the stock market to date, defining the 1990s dotcom Bubble.
    • They have made a shitload of money. That's what. Yahoo is by all accounts very, very profitable.
      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        That's a circular answer. What have they done to make that money? What makes them competitive so that they make that money, instead of someone else making it?
    • by suv4x4 (956391)
      What has Yahoo done for the past 5 years to stay alive?

      Planning for the future: beginning 2007, they will start charging for pings to their domain.

      Their revenue is guaranteed for decades to come.
      • by tigga (559880)
        Planning for the future: beginning 2007, they will start charging for pings to their domain.

        NO, there will be advertisement in every ICMP answer!

    • Admittedly, I agree with just about everyone here that Yahoo, which I consider the originator of the internet search, let themselves go to pot. I felt they let their databases rot and their correlators lounge around with trivia while their web designers filled their web pages with all sorts of irrevelant junk, supposedly to amuse me and market to me while I was trying to find something.

      Apparently, some people who knew how to "do it right", did so, and called their work "Google".

      I began losing respect for

      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        I agree with all that, except the basic history. Yahoo did not invent "Internet search". Arguably either Altavista or Lycos (both miraculously still afloat) invented the kind of comprehensive, fast Web search that we now call "googling". Yahoo's replaced its own lame, "me too" search with the snappy comer "Google". Which then ate the hand that fed it.

        Yahoo didn't even invent "putting an exclamation point in your brand name". But it did practically invent Web browsing. A hierarchical directory of the whole W
      • by Moochman (54872)
        DUDE! Just use Firefox with NoScript and enable JavaScript only for the sites you want to enable! I use a variety of Yahoo's beta, JavaScript-employing technologies, and I don't get any wierd pop-ups or other stuff on their site. Nor on any other site, because only the sites I let use JavaScript use it. It's that simple.

        While you're at it, get Adblock Plus and Filterset.G Updater, and never worry about annoying banner/flash ads on web pages again.
        • by anubi (640541)
          Thanks.

          Thats very similar to what I am doing now, except its K-Meleon.

          My main intent on posting was to express my disdain for this kind of programming on a business site. I'ts not gonna ruin my life if someone hacked my MySpace account and screwed around my site... but once money has been transferred, there are some real concerns if I ever get it back.

          There are a lot of graduates of business schools out there, now running financial companies, who are apparently completely ignorant of the risks of virus-

  • I understand that many people will want to jump on this man and lambast him for his brash, profanity-laced rhetoric towards members of the media. Please be aware that he will soon lose his job after Yahoo's market share is swallowed up by companies that are more effective at building a user base, maintaining market share, and turning a profit.

    It's not easy to face the looming demise of your company and your job with candor, intelligence and restraint. So please be nice to this guy as his company goes down t

  • Just because yahoo didn't die years ago it means it's impossible for them to die?

    I don't think yahoo is inmmortal, specially at this precise moment [alexa.com]
    • Well what about this metric [alexa.com]?

      I'm not a fan of Yahoo myself, but my 20, 25, and 30-year old non-technical siblings grew up using Yahoo. They don't want or need the laser focus of information retrieval that a search engine like Google provides. They just want to go on the web and be presented with interesting, entertaining or diversionary content. Yahoo.com and MSN.com are perfect for that.

      If they want to know what's going on in the world, they don't have to craft a clever search query, or know what RSS
  • Know how to. Write in complete. Sentences if you. Are a CE. O of a big. Company?
  • The slow unravelling of Yahoo is a warning. If you want to make money in "growth" companies, there are three ways to do it.

    1) Buy on the way up, hold on until after the point of fear until complacency arrives, then sell.

    2) After the first crash, buy at the bottom and hold until the second crest. It will then crash again.

    3) Wait then until it sells for 10 times last year's earnings and pays a dividend and is out of fashion.

    Who knows whether Yahoo will make it to stage three. But if it does, and only th
  • by melted (227442) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @06:51PM (#17178604) Homepage
    Their index is larger than Google's and I find that their results are not much worse than Google's most of the time. When I can't find something through Google, I go to Yahoo and it usually finds it. Their index of images seems larger as well. What keeps me with Google right now is Gmail, super fast personalized homepage, Groups and the habit.
  • I'm not sure why this is news. People in the software business say this kind of thing about the press all the time. After all, do you trust the software and internet industry rags to get things right? If they don't have a story to report they'll report rumors. Sometimes it seems like if they don't have rumors they'll just make something up, though I hope they're not quite that bad.
  • What credibility does the press maintain? 0 That is if you're talking about 'traditional media'.
  • Who the hell follows up "all full of shit" with something like "And they do not now as well!"? Usually, when someone uses "full of shit" they are pissed of, and when they are pissed of they use contractions and shorter more clipped speech, like "And they don't now either!". Unless they are drunk.
  • For me, what makes this more than just another re-org is the depature of Lloyd Braun, a guy who green-lit Lost and was hired by Yahoo a couple of years ago to create the "Yahoo Media Group", which was going to create video content.

    I was really interested in the idea of a webco serious propduicing video for online, rather than just (like youtube) harvesting user-generated content, most of which is obviously content made for TV and Cinema.

    However, Lloyd Braun never really came up with anything, it appea
  • I would like to recommend Y(aho)o!Sucker [sourceforge.net], to those of you who also think that Yahoo! mail sucks big time, but can't change to Gmail because of the lock-in Yahoo! is shamelessly practicing (no free email forwarding or POP access).

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