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The Google-fication of Yahoo! 242

Posted by Soulskill
from the they're-feeling-lucky dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Since coming to Yahoo!, CEO Marissa Mayer has added a weekly, Friday afternoon all-hands meeting, just like at Google; she announced that henceforth the food in Yahoo's URLs Cafe will be free, just like at Google; and she has begun prepping major changes to the layout of the work spaces and buildings of Yahoo to make it feel more collaborative and cool, just like, well.. you get the idea. Such focus on improving cultural issues is an interesting initial move by the neophyte CEO, since the care and feeding and, most of all, cosseting of employees has been a critical element to Google's success at creating an always-sunny work environment. But Mayer has been up to much more serious business, said several sources, especially product innovation as the savior for Yahoo: Better email! Better search! Better ad-serving! And a special plea to make Flickr awesome again! In other words, better every product Yahoo has to offer. 'This is the sound of Yahoo becoming a technology company again,' says one source. 'It will be all about platforms and products.' Sources say that will likely mean a big splashy tech or product deal in the days ahead, perhaps via an acquisition to signal the new direction, perhaps with the acquisition of a sexy product like Flipboard. In the meantime, many at Yahoo are bracing for a pack of current and former Googlers — Mayer had a lot of loyal staffers — to come on board, writes Kara Swisher. 'And, by the looks of all the Googley changes at Yahoo, they'll feel right at home when they get there.'"
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The Google-fication of Yahoo!

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  • by Mike Van Pelt (32582) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @12:58PM (#40907669)
    Cue "Workplace Culture Patent Violation" lawsuit in 3... 2... 1...
  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tooyoung (853621) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @01:01PM (#40907697)
    I hope that they succeed. It would be nice to have multiple viable search, etc solutions, rather than one good provider and awful competitors.
    • Re:Good (Score:5, Funny)

      by locopuyo (1433631) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @01:05PM (#40907741) Homepage
      Yahoo search used to be powered by Google. Now it is powered by Bing. Which is powered by Google.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by jhoegl (638955)
        And all of it powered by Al Gore's internet!
      • by tooyoung (853621)
        What would happen if Google started pulling results from Yahoo!?!?!?!
        • What would happen if Google started pulling results from Yahoo!?!?!?!

          Maybe that is Kurzweil's "singularity."

    • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MozeeToby (1163751) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @01:05PM (#40907751)

      It's amazing that a CEO can come in and say "Make a better product!" and it comes as a shock to everyone. And I don't want to take away from what she's doing, on the contrary, I applaud it. Focusing on employees and quality products versus focusing on financials and Wall Street is a huge step in the right direction for any company. It's just sad that it's newsworthy.

      • by zlives (2009072)

        hmmm next stop RIM?

      • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Ami Ganguli (921) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @01:26PM (#40907973) Homepage

        Hear hear!

        It's sad to see clueless MBAs come into tech companies and try to cut their way to profitability. It never works, but they keep trying it again and again (cue famous quote about the definition of insanity...).

        About time somebody tried a different approach: take care of your people, and build great products. And remember that nobody does great work with an axe hanging over their head.

        Time to buy some Yahoo! stock - they've found themselves a CEO with a clue.

        • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Dogtanian (588974) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @02:24PM (#40908667) Homepage

          It's sad to see clueless MBAs come into tech companies and try to cut their way to profitability. It never works, but they keep trying it again and again (cue famous quote about the definition of insanity...).

          No, it does work- for them. The aim is to raise profits in the short term- which is also what the markets are concerned with- while they're still at the company and collecting large pay packets, bonuses, etc. etc.

          The fact that this doesn't work over the long term is irrelevant, as they'll be long out of the company by that point.

        • by rhsanborn (773855)
          Yahoo! has the benefit of being profitable. It's much harder to come into a company that is losing money and say, "we're going to spend money on free food and developers'. Even if that is what is needed to be successful.
    • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @01:18PM (#40907871) Journal

      Hell, it would be nice to have one good search engine at this point.

      • by tooyoung (853621)
        Fair point - if Yahoo implemented the old Google interface (you know, the one from before they decided they had to be Bing), I would switch immediately.
      • Re:Good (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @02:35PM (#40908797) Homepage Journal

        Indeed, Google used to be great, but they're like slashdot in that every change makes it worse. If there were no relevant results, Google used to tell you that. Now they serve up pages that don't even have all the words you're searching for, even if you specifically tell it to only return results with that word. Quotes are useless in a Google search any more.

        There's a fantastic opportunity for some young talent to invent a better search engine. Ten years ago I could find anything I was looking for, these days Google fails miserably.

        That said, Bing is even worse. Every two results return a shopping site on Bing, even if you're looking for technical information. Google only looks good compared to the other worthless search engines. One of you young guys should hop to it!

  • Goohoo (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @01:03PM (#40907717)

    Personally I don't think its the best idea to try and turn Yahoo into Google, it needs to find its own strengths and play to them, and tackle new markets where there aren't many established superplayers just yet, in order to compete on a more even footing.

    • by Sir_Sri (199544)

      True, trying to compete head on with google in their core products isn't a great plan. Don't expect yahoo docs or yahoo adwords kinds of things, nor a yahoo mobile operating system. But Google does have a culture that could apply reasonably well to any software product business in terms of employee productivity, satisfaction and coordination and cooperation.

      I think the big challenge for yahoo is to compete, but be different. They have search and have e-mail, and have since before google offered those pro

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        True, trying to compete head on with google in their core products isn't a great plan.

        It worked for Google, didn't it? Who uses infoseek or altavista any more? Do they even still exist?

        I think the big challenge for yahoo is to compete, but be different.

        That's how Google did it.

        • by Sir_Sri (199544)

          Not really, no that's not how google did it. Google made a radically new type of search product. And now the market has changed, and trying to have a radically better technology than google in search or a much better e-mail is really really hard. When you're going after a bigger competitor you have to be able to produce a product they can't, and get it to market before they can copy it it can get it out the door. Yahoo isn't in that situation.

          Googles revenue is from adwords and search. Their search te

    • Re:Goohoo (Score:5, Interesting)

      by squiggleslash (241428) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @01:45PM (#40908219) Homepage Journal

      Yeah, that though would have been OK 15 years ago. Yahoo had its own strengths, it was an innovator, and did some awesome stuff like the first genuinely useful webmail, the my.yahoo.com thing, and - OK, probably not as useful if implemented today - but the original directory based search was awesome at the time.

      But it doesn't really have any strengths right now. It's a husk of its former self, a company that' had no ideas how to run itself as it got larger, and thought "I know, let's just copy all the other faceless corporations" was a great way to fix everything. Its founders left because they neither understood how large corporations work, nor understood the problems that go with that way of working - the stifling, anti-creativity, anti-individualism that such corporations inflict upon their employee base.

      And it's hard, really, to think of a technology company that's following that model that's actually doing OK at the moment. Maybe Amazon is there, I don't know, but Amazon has a Jobs-lite like character at the top, so it just about gets away with it.

      Copying the way Google works? Well, Google is innovative, encourages its employees to be creative, and seems to be being rewarded for doing so. If you're a large Internet concern that's been going in the wrong direction for a while, looking over at Google seems to be a good approach.

      • Re:Goohoo (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jbolden (176878) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @02:06PM (#40908473) Homepage

        OK, probably not as useful if implemented today - but the original directory based search was awesome at the time.

        Speak for yourself. I'd love a really good directory based search. The web is just much larger. Imagine being able to type in something like, "mail systems api" or "sound file formats" and getting a directory of 6-25 sites all on that topic rather than having to hunt.

        • I'd love that too, but the web has grown so large it's difficult to see how such a directory could be maintained properly.

          There are projects, like DMoz, out there that attempt to, but they really have their limitations.

          • by jbolden (176878)

            I don't know about that. There's about 300m-400m websites depending on how you class them.

            1) Yahoo can ask the owners to self categorize. Yahoo has the reputation that they might be able to get fairly good compliance. But lets assume not.

            2) If we assume classifying a website takes an experienced classifier 5 minutes then a person can do 20k websites in a man-year easily. Which means 400m can be done by 20,000 man years or at 25k / man year (since this work can go abroad and it is only semi-skilled) $5

      • Lots of people still use and like Yahoo mail.

        Also, Yahoo has really excellent sports coverage (thanks in part to a long ago effort to spend money on first-hand coverage).

        Then there is Flickr, still my favorite social photo sharing service that just needs to be overhauled a bit.

        I'm sure there are other things too, it was really only search that I found Yahoo terrible at. Everything else they still do reasonably well.

        Well, except for Yahoo Answers, but perhaps they could turn that into an entertainment venue

  • Sweet (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EdIII (1114411) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @01:04PM (#40907727)

    she announced that henceforth the food in Yahoo's URLs Cafe will be free, just like at Google;

    That goes a long way to creating a happy work place right there.

    15 years ago I worked in a place where it took you 10-12 minutes to get past security, walk through the building, across a large area, go up an elevator, get in your car, go through two more security checkpoints, just to get on the main street. Half your lunch break was spent in transit, and you were only allowed 45 minutes.

    You were not allowed to eat at your desks, and no break room was provided. Well, it did exist, but it was more like a closet hallway with a two seat mini table. Not set up to allow dozens of people to eat lunch.

    There was a 3rd option.... the cafe at the bottom of the building where the owner realized he had a captive audience and made airport food prices seem cheap in comparison.

    Yeah... something like this at Yahoo would seem like paradise to me.

    • You were not allowed to eat at your desks,

      I'm not eating - I'm snacking. I just snack at a high volume.

      If they want to sack for a snack, well I dare them...

      Seriously, never put up with bullshit rules.

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @01:04PM (#40907729) Journal

    We have to modernize Yahoo so that when Microsoft and Google want to buy us out we can demand top price!

    • I agree....paving the way to a smooth acquisition by Google. I didn't read the article, but.....I don't see anything impressive here. This is just basic stuff that doesn't contribute to the viability of the company. Yahoo is not Google, they had better be careful with this, and Google has had issues with innovation and execution lately, so I don't know if a copy of Google culture is the right thing. Cute, novel, something is happening, but......

  • ... security measures at these all-hands meetings?

    http://techcrunch.com/2012/07/12/yahoo-confirms-apologizes-for-the-email-hack-says-still-fixing-plus-check-if-you-were-impacted-non-yahoo-accounts-apply/
  • Googlified?
    It's all been tried
    With smooth visage
    Can't take our pride
    Burma Shave
  • The Rise of Flickr (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @01:10PM (#40907789)

    The thing that excites me most is the possibility of Flickr getting some real momentum behind it again. Even now I still prefer Flickr over other photo sharing services, and it would be great to see it get first class status among the users of the internet.

    • Flickr does have a great deal of momentum and first class (or near first class) status- but it's among the more serious photographers rather than the cell phone toting crowd. Yahoo! is currently in the process of squandering that momentum and reputation though, through a series of ill-conceived and ill-executed UI changes.

      • That's not quite right, the number one source of photos on there is the iPhone!!

        I agree it also has a lot of credibility with serious photographers too.

        The real problem is that it doesn't have a good API for mobile apps to post into the service, making it harder than it should be to add Flickr support.

  • Missing the point (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Shoten (260439) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @01:11PM (#40907799)

    "since the care and feeding and, most of all, cosseting of employees has been a critical element to Google's success at creating an always-sunny work environment"

    Actually, the first and foremost reason for Google's success has been its people. And Yahoo has been taking a beating long enough not to have the same caliber of individuals at this point...so cosseting them isn't exactly going to give the same results as Google gets for taking care of their own employees. Not that it isn't a good idea, but I think Yahoo needs to come up with more compelling reasons to work for them, instead of an up-and-comer (which they absolutely are not, unfortunately). I'm a huge fan of companies providing perks for their people; both scientific studies and my own personal experience show that you get a much bigger ROI on those than on straight salary bumps, for the most part. But they aren't going to improve your company's bottom line automatically.

    • I think these changes could be a step on the path to solving the "acquiring top calliber talent" problem. There was mention of recruiting google staff, whom would expect these policies, but there is also the competition factor. If I'm offered a job at google and Yahoo both, who do I go with? Minimizing your disadvantages as much as possible is a good move in that context, as long as free lunches aren't your only selling point.
    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      Two obvious responses:
      1. If I'm a top-caliber talent, all other things being equal, I'll work for the company that's coddling me rather than one that's treating me like I'm a prisoner. And even if I'm middle-tier, I'm going to want to work for you, which means you have more applicants to choose from and can afford to be more picky.
      2. If I'm a top-caliber talent, but am at a company that treats me badly or indifferently, I'm not going to give my top effort to the company, I'm going to give my top effort on e

  • By the time they realize that are doing all things as being part of google won't care if they become assimilated or not.
  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @01:13PM (#40907821)

    Yahoo mail to avoid google mail
    Yahoo (or duckduckgo) to avoid google search
    Mozilla or Opera browser to avoid google browser
    And so on.
    I have not found a workaround for youtube, but I don't like having google gathering all this data about me & creating a profile. I want to use alternatives as much as possible.

    • by glwtta (532858) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @01:25PM (#40907953) Homepage
      On the off-chance you're actually serious - you really think Yahoo isn't collecting exactly the same data as Google?
      • by TheLink (130905)
        Of course they are, but if Yahoo has part of the data and google has the some of it, facebook/etc the rest, they are less likely to share the data with each other. Better than Yahoo or Google having 100% of the data.

        Make the various parties work and pay more for it.
        • they are less likely to share the data with each other.

          It just means the people actually using that data, marketers, FBI, underpants gnomes, have to buy it from more than one source and then merge it. Facebook and such aren't the evil overmind bent on peering into your home. They're just the middle-man getting paid by the evil overmind bent on peering into your home.

      • A cynic would say that they may be collecting it, but judging from their recent share price they're not as good at exploiting what they've recorded. A more pragmatic person would argue that it's better to have two (or, ideally, more) companies with partial tracking information about the population than one with a complete database.
      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        >>>On the off-chance you're actually serious - you really think Yahoo isn't collecting exactly the same data as Google?

        Wow you dense cracka
        The point is to separate the information so no one company has all the data. Google knows what videos I watch but not my email or search or browsing habits. Yahoo has my email habits. Duckduckgo has search habits. Mozilla & Opera have the browser history/cookies. NONE have a complete profile.

    • I have not found a workaround for youtube, but I don't like having google gathering all this data about me & creating a profile.

      You don't think Yahoo would like to do the same thing?

      You'd trade one information overlord for another. For all I'm concerned about Google's information-collating abilities, Yahoo has a track record of more problems with data security than Google.

      In the end... if you want to be plugged in to technology services, you have face the fact that the service providers will also b

    • What about Vimeo?

      There are a number of other alternate video sharing sites too, but Vimeo works really well. They were even first with HD support.

  • by Bill Dimm (463823) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @01:14PM (#40907827) Homepage

    I've said this several times before (including in feedback to Yahoo), but I'll say it here just in case anyone from Yahoo! is actually paying attention:

    In Yahoo! finance, you really need to give users the option to chart dividend-adjusted price (or, equivalently, "growth of $10,000 investment"). Charting the raw stock price isn't very useful, especially for mutual funds that pay out substantial dividends or capital gains distributions at the end of the year (when the market isn't tanking). Those payouts cause the price to drop, but it's not an economically meaningful drop -- no money was lost. If you try to compare two securities, or compare a security to an index, and the price drops off a cliff every December (again, the drop means nothing), it's just not useful. Yahoo! has the adjusted price data needed to make a useful chart (it's called "Adj Close" in the "Historical Prices" table), it just doesn't give the user a way to chart it.

    • by Bill Dimm (463823)

      In addition to the comment above, which would make charts on Yahoo! significantly more useful, I'll also point out a bug:

      Since you started displaying live, auto-updating security prices recently, I've noticed that the price change and percent change are not kept in sync. Sometimes, one value will be positive while the other is negative for the same security. Just in case this is a browser compatibility issue, I'm using Seamonkey 2.3.3 on Linux.

  • If all it took to turn a bunch of dullards into software superstars was a ton of free food, then every company would be piling in (and putting on the pounds). No, having a positive working environment ends with positive reinforcement. It starts with a hierarchy that values and promotes good ideas and doesn't do what most organisations spend their time doing: coming up with reasons why they won't work.

    Hopefully her next action will be to purge the middle layers of the organisation and lose all the naysayers

  • Fix Yahoo / Flickr (Score:4, Informative)

    by Wowsers (1151731) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @01:18PM (#40907875) Journal

    I propose that Yahoo gets it's finger out of it's backside and fix Flickr. For months I've been trying to get a "pro" account to upload more photograhs than the standard freebie 200. However like many other complaints in the forums, Yahoo seem to not be bothered in fixing the billing system, many can't log in to even create a billing account, others can't pay or renew what they have. Sounds a bigger problem then just re-arranging how the chairs and desks are in an office for better Feng shui.

    • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @01:35PM (#40908099)

      This sort of thing is where I think it's important that the CEO of a company drink the proverbial kool-aid and actually try and use their own products. Mayer is a geek - if she tries to use any yahoo services she'll probably find what is redundant, what is broken, and what is missing. All things yahoo needs. Badly.

  • by Spy Handler (822350) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @01:21PM (#40907905) Homepage Journal
    Marissa should bring Steve Regge onboard so he can teach Yahoo people to eat their own dogfood and build a common platform around Flickr and YIM that will be API accessible for 3rd party developers to develop an ecosystem!
  • I don't suppose they'll drop the practice of charging an annual fee for the privilege of email forwarding. Quite a nasty move, IMO.
  • So this means they'll ditch Bing for ... something else, and maybe add things like labels and tags to their email platform.

    I'd be worried at Microsoft - this could end up looking in the same mould as Elop at Nokia.

  • "layout of the work spaces"

    People at Google don't get (individual) offices, right? They're either in big open areas or share offices with several other people?

    Do Yahoo employees (currently) get offices?

    I consider it a big benefit to have my own office (with a door I can close, though I usually leave it cracked open).. Though I would even prefer a cube to a shared office in most cases.

  • So, when will Yahoo team up with Oracle and make an underwhelming Phone OS: yPhone powered by Oracle's Java!

    Note: Prefixing "Java" with "Oracle's" will be made mandatory, on penalty of TOS violation.

  • The "Better email!" target is the one they need to work on first.

    Every time I have to correspond with someone with a BT/Yahoo e-mail account I have to explain to them how to check their spam folders for lost messages. They always find other ones there too which Yahoo's dreadful spam filter has consigned there without consultation or good reason.

    BT/Yahoo e-mail should come with a health warning.

  • Too bad they're getting cozy with Facebook [slashdot.org]. Otherwise I wouldn't have queued my account for deletion that day (I was still logged in after I clicked ok to that, so I have a feeling something got blocked or it just didn't quite go through, but that might just be the 90-day wait time).

    I'm also concerned they'll bring in the Google+ elements of Google, perhaps even to look more attractive to FB (unless, of course, FB would rather have them strictly use FB's systems and UI for that).

  • Steve Jobs (praise be his name) had a quote about IBM and institutionalizing process without focusing on the company's actual product:

    Companies get confused. When they start getting bigger they want to replicate their initial success. And a lot of them think well somehow there is some magic in the process of how that success was created so they start to try to institutionalize process across the company. And before very long people get very confused that the process is the content. And that’s ultimate

    • by Maltheus (248271)

      This is a pattern repeated at just about every company nowadays. A top-down approach to process makes about as much sense as piping all of your computer operations through a single mainframe. In both cases, you're left with a single point of catastrophic failure. Every process failure is countered with a more rigid process, and you eventually reach the point where nothing gets done and the focus of your job shifts to gaming the system.

  • I'm hoping Yahoo turns itself around. 10-15 years ago, Yahoo was my literal internet home. One stop shopping for most of the daily entertainment including playing Yahoo Games like Hearts and Spades. I'd like to see it come back without turning into a Facebook/Google data mining front (GL w/ that, I know).

    My plea is for her to fix the card game forums. As it is, they're being overrun by poor sports:

    * "Trammers" (TRAM: The Rest Are Mine), who get mad when they're losing and use a convenience feature to ea

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