Is Yahoo's CEO Really In A Position To Tell Google What It Needs To Do?

from the i-get-paid-for-interestingness dept

I have to admit, I thought it was pretty amusing to see this headline in the BBC:

Yahoo chief Carol Bartz sees trouble for Google.

What else is she supposed to say? Of course she’s going to slag the company that totally destroyed Yahoo at its own game, but the real question is why would anyone listen? Yahoo isn’t exactly in the position of being able to say what Google should be doing, given that every single move that Yahoo has tried against Google has failed — sometimes miserably. Bartz’s comments get more amusing the further the article goes on:

“Google is going to have a problem because Google is only known for search…”

Well, I guess she should know. While she won’t admit it, people still tend to think of Yahoo as search as well. And Yahoo spent so much time trying to diversify that if they don’t think about Yahoo as search these days… they just think about Yahoo as being a confused jumble of sites that don’t do much. In the meantime, despite her claims, it does appear that Google has expanded well beyond search. AdSense (which is about other content sites) makes them lots of money. Pretty much everyone I know uses Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Maps rather than the Yahoo equivalents. I’m trying to think of what other areas Yahoo has expanded into that have been successful for the company.

But the funniest statement of all:

“Google has to grow a company the size of Yahoo every year to be interesting.”

I don’t think that anyone judges Google based on how “interesting” they are. Is that the metric they use at Yahoo? Does that explain the $47 million she apparently made last year? Because she made Yahoo so interesting? Well, I guess it should be admitted that Yahoo is the company that is trying (and so far, failing) to patent “interestingness,” so perhaps she’s just urging Google to be interesting for the sake of a future patent fight? In the meantime, I would assume that, at Google, they judge the company based on how much money it makes — and on that front, it appears to be cleaning Yahoo’s clock on a pretty regular basis.

As for “growing a company the size of Yahoo every year,” that becomes easier and easier as Yahoo gets smaller and smaller.

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Companies: google, yahoo

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Comments on “Is Yahoo's CEO Really In A Position To Tell Google What It Needs To Do?”

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50 Comments
PaulT (profile) says:

“Google is going to have a problem because Google is only known for search…”

“Pretty much everyone I know uses Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Maps rather than the Yahoo equivalents.”

Yeah, I think you nailed it – there’s a definite disconnect between her statements and a lot of peoples’ experiences. I *think* I still have a Yahoo Mail account, but I’ve not logged into it for close to a year so who knows? Other than that, I can’t remember the last time I intentionally visited Yahoo (i.e. went to the site specifically rather than by following a link to a story).

Meanwhile, I use Google Docs, Reader, Calendar and GMail daily, and most people I know love Maps and Street View (and to a lesser extent Earth). None of these are indispensable and I could abandon Google as quickly as I abandoned search providers like Yahoo if I find something more useful. I haven’t found that yet.

Alan Gerow (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

And I hear they have this web browser called Chrome that a couple people are using, and are developing a similarly named OS for disposable netbooks.

They may even own a video site that some people use called YouTube or something. But I haven’t heard much about that site in a while. Do people still use it?

My phone has Google written across the back of it for some reason. I don’t know why, maybe my phone is made of silly putty and someone put it to the computer screen.

Google really needs to do more than just have a single search page. They’re never going to be bigger than Yahoo at this rate.

awd says:

I find Bartz to be quite annoying, tbh. She took a once-legendary internet company and turned it into nothing more than dust. To be fair, perhaps she was just at the wrong place at the wrong time, though any decisions I’ve seen her make were less than brilliant. She also has the bad habit of putting her foot in it.

Pretending she knows Google’s business better than Google is funny, actually. They’re known for their search (that’s not exclusively web search), but all their cloud services are also catching on more quickly than she’d care to admit. And let’s not forget Android!

Free Capitalist (profile) says:

Profit Averse Culture

Regarding the search business she says,

“It is only half our business; it’s 99.9% of their business. They’ve got to find other things to do.

Translation: 50% of yahoo makes (made) money after acquiring Overture in 2003. The other 50% spends money developing emoticons.

It’s pretty much Jerry’s fault, with his chronic hasbeenitis clouding upper management with a perverse sense of corporate “culture” (perverse for corporations) that is best described as cool before profitable.

That being said, Mike, why are you beating down the beaten for whimpering while lying on the ground? Shouldn’t Googlites have an unshakable sense of pride at this point?

Or, deep down, are you thinking, like many investors, that there just a slight possibility Google is in the process of over-extending themselves just as Yahoo did?

Alan Gerow (profile) says:

Re: Profit Averse Culture

The difference is Yahoo did all these things and tried to pull it all together and force users into using Yahoo’s services. I stopped using Yahoo after the one of the home page redesigns in the early ’00s when it took forever to load about 300 different bits of information just so I could search for “funny pictures of cats”.

Google’s search page is clean for search. And you can navigate between services. They don’t try to mash everything in front of you at once to show they’re trying to be everything to everyone (unless you use iGoogle, but then it’s 100% customizable for how clean or cluttered you want it). Google knows you’re there for search to go somewhere else … Yahoo tried to get you to stay instead.

Google may be overextending, and some of their experiments fail, some fail miserably, but they don’t sacrifice their core features to help their failing experiments as much as Yahoo did.

I haven’t visited Yahoo in about 6-8 years, so maybe they’ve changed, but I will ever remember Yahoo as the one stop shop to get everything and need nothing. Whereas Google’s home page is nearly as clean and easy to use as the day I did my first search.

Free Capitalist (profile) says:

Re: Re: Profit Averse Culture

Google may be overextending, and some of their experiments fail, some fail miserably, but they don’t sacrifice their core features to help their failing experiments as much as Yahoo did.

Agreed Google has taken better care of their core business, search advertising, than Yahoo ever did.

However, even with the greater resources Google has to work with, the fiscal impact of over-extension (i.e. throwing good money after the bad) cannot be ignored in the long run.

My entry for analogy Friday: Even the largest, best-equipped army in the world can over-extend itself, get cut off from its supplies, flanked and laid to waste.

Ryan says:

Re: Re: Re: Profit Averse Culture

The analogy doesn’t really follow; Google doesn’t really have to maintain a their core business–search and advertising–so much as tweak them here and there to stay updated. Search is basically an automated function with an algorithm and a bunch of servers, and Google made its name on the simplicity of the search page.

Since then, just about all of Google’s endeavors have been toward encouraging people to spend more time on the internet and integrate browsing activity with their search and advertising. They have a good vision, excellent execution, and everything they do ties back into their core business model. The link you provided mainly pegged Google as a possible bull because they can’t possibly sustain their insane growth forever, with one small sentence suggesting they may ignore their core features in overextending. But like I said, everything they do ties back into that business model, and I think Google has proven to thus far be a company that is forward-thinking, consumer-oriented, and innovative. The more they extend and encourage users to simply use Google, the stronger they get.

The bigger problems I see would be either a significant shift in the advertising market or a new innovator. But neither one seems likely to happen anytime soon, especially given the comparatively closed and short-sighted approaches of Microsoft, Yahoo, and even Apple.

Free Capitalist (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Profit Averse Culture

Search is basically an automated function with an algorithm and a bunch of servers, and Google made its name on the simplicity of the search page.

True but search does not equal search advertising (key words, and the bidding system for clients). Search is a free service, and search advertising is where they make their money. Two very different beasts, and it is search advertising that generates their revenue. Search brings the eyes, auctioning keywords sells those eyes through.

Search advertising takes quite a bit of maintenance, much more so than search. It is no easy algorithm. Google does do a pretty good job at keeping this up, and this core piece of their business is doing just fine.

Investors could care less how many hits a service might get if those hits are not monetized (things work a little differently now than they did in the 90’s).

All I’m saying is Google would do well to ignore Bartz assessment and prudently engage other enterprises, if at all.

Google’s perceived weakness right now is the number of acquired business units in their corporate portfolio which have negative profit margins.

Google is not weak at this point in time. Do not get me wrong. But also, it would not do well for Google to ignore Econ 101 either.

Mike says:

Re: Re: Profit Averse Culture

you last visited yahoo 6-8 years ago and you’re commenting on this article? What an idiot. Everything on the web was different 6-8 years ago!!

I hate people that act like they know what they’re talking about and they don’t even know what these companies really do to make money.

jasonstuff says:

Thank You!

When I saw the Headline on BBC I didn’t even want to click on it in fear I would support it. Who does she think she is? Is she lost in a dream world.

Google is coming out with out-of-the-box user friendly tools that make people’s lives easier and more efficient. Everyone I know uses Google, Gmail, Maps, Chrome… and with stuff like Android, GVoice, Wave and other incredible products it just makes me wonder what she is drinking by even thinking about being so arrogant. She will regret it I think.

Who uses Yahoo for much of anything? If I have a Yahoo Mail it’s for junk. For those who mentioned Yahoo Answers, I bet you get there by searching in Google first (laugh).

Not to even bring up YouTube. I know Google bought it but still it’s Google’s and how many people use that every day!! Yahoo is dieing and not even sure why they are around.

Google isn’t Yahoo! Google is in another league! I am so thankful that you wrote an article titled exactly what I was thinking when I saw the headline this morning. I’m guess most will ignore and laugh at her comment.

Anonymous Coward says:

first let me say that I am a google user but you all should really use your google perfect browser and check your facts… other than search yahoo beats google in every category where there is a comparable service…

This is just mail…
Microsoft webmail properties: 256.2 million users
Yahoo: 254.6 million users
Google: 91.6 million users
AOL webmail properties: 48.9 million users

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I wonder how many of those are active accounts as opposed to free accounts that were opened up in 1998 and then promptly forgotten about (GMail being the youngest service by a long, long way)?

I wonder how many of those accounts are used exclusively for spamming (I can’t remember the last time a legit account tried adding me on MSN messenger – a service I only use because some people don’t want to move – and I get at least 3 requests a week)?

I wonder what the cost-to-profit ratio is on each of those accounts (i.e. it doesn’t matter that Yahoo has 3 times as many webmail users if they’re only 1/5 as profitable as each GMail account)?

There are many more factors than number of users in this equation, especially when at least one company mentioned has been on a downward slide for the last decade while Google has been on the rise.

McBeese says:

Carol Bartz is a misfit

Carol Bartz comes across to me as a crass and rude person that is entirely the wrong image for a company like Yahoo!, which was founded as the ‘fun’ web company. I’m sure she can kick ass and drive cost reduction, but that is only part of what Yahoo! needs. That’s like throwing ballast out of the plane after the engines have failed. It delays but doesn’t change the end result.

Yahoo! needs a visionary to set direction. Bartz is not a visionary, she’s an operations type. The problem is, none of the superior visionaries I’ve ever met would even consider working for a troll like Carol Bartz. You think an up-and-coming Steve Jobs or Bill Gates is going to put up with being cussed at by a technical incompetent like Bartz? Nuh-uh, ain’t going to happen.

So Carol, you don’t like it when armchair commenters pontificate on what yahoo needs to do. Too bad. Sorry. The bottom line is that you need to hire a CEO who can lead the company while you streamline it. That would be the most competent move you could make.

By the way, on the day when I’m reading about Bartz’ views of Google’s problems, the Yahoo iPad app was crashing to the point of being unusable. Nice commercial, Carol.

Anonymous Coward says:

first let me say that I am a google user but you all should really use your google perfect browser and check your facts… other than search yahoo beats google in every category where there is a comparable service…

This is just mail…
Microsoft webmail properties: 256.2 million users
Yahoo: 254.6 million users
Google: 91.6 million users
AOL webmail properties: 48.9 million users

lol, lol, really, not comparable guy, I probably have 10 yahoo email addys myself, I use them as throw away for site registration etc…, I give my real addy, my own website email or my gmail to real people I know or business use, everything else is for junk that I don’t check and don’t care about

yeah for real, I find yahoo earth to be better, oh wait nvm, maybe yahoo maps? no, no don’t think so

so what does yahoo do better?? that’s right cram as much useless crap on a web page as humanly possible flood you with non stop spam and ads

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