Inside the Mind of (a) Yahoo!

For better or for worse, Yahoo! has always been a pretty siloed organization. Each major Business Unit is very much a reflection of its leader’s personality and style. While the famed re-org promises to reduce the number of these silos (and make them more aligned with logically distinct business objectives), it shows no signs of reducing the autonomy of BU leadership — which is a great thing in my book.

The head of the BU in which I work, Connected Life, is Marco Boerries. And he is one of the main reasons I’ve remained at Yahoo! through all of the shit that has gone on in the last 18 months or so (there’s a big part of your answer Kareem). This is where the siloes come in handy — no matter how crazy things have gotten in YMG or with Panama, those of us in Marco’s world have been able to focus on our goals and have largely had the tools to achieve them.

For those of you not in the know, the mission of the Connected Life BU is to extend Yahoo! “beyond the browser” — specifically, that means mobile, digital home, and the PC desktop. Working in Connected Life is all about taking bleeding edge products and technologies and bringing them to Yahoo!’s mainstream audience, which is extremely challenging but always exciting. And, to my initial point, it’s also a lot about executing on Marco’s personal vision for how consumers will use Yahoo! across devices. Now, normally that would irk someone as headstrong as me — having to follow someone else’s lead. And at times, Marco and I have had some pretty heated debates. But for me, and a lot of other people I respect, it’s pretty hard to disagree with most of what Marco wants to get done.

Back in November, Marco was asked to deliver the opening keynote at >play. It provided a rare public glimpse into the philsophy that drives the vision behind some of the most interesting (IMHO) things going on at Yahoo! today. I posted about it at the time, and vowed to put the full deck up at some point.

So, here it is:

(Note to Y! Legal folks: this is information that has already been vetted by PR and presented in public)

And in the tradition of Ian‘s fantastic BarCampLA1 preso, here’s the text-only version:

“It’s the Consumers, Stupid!”
Technology = Consumer Empowerment
The Internet is the Ultimate Democratizing Innovation
Delivering Consumers What They Want is the Best Strategy
Case Study — Digital Music:
iPod/iTunes/iTMS = total vertical integration ->
Plays for Sure = completely open ecosystem ->
Zune = total vertical integration

There is Another Way
You don’t have to build everything yourself, but you can’t leave it all to chance either
Through close partnership with industry-leading network operators and OEM’s, Yahoo! is extending our consumer-centric view across the value chain

What Consumers Want
It’s Not About Bringing the Device to the Internet
It’s About Bringing the Internet into the Device
Device-Optimized Experiences Leverage Features Unique to the Device
Example — Flickr:
Mobile Phone = Upload -> TV = View -> PC = Manage

What About Content?
Publishers want their Content Distributed as Widely as their Business Model allows
The Internet is Lowering Costs and Enabling New Business Models
Content Delivery is no longer a Publisher Pain Point
Content is no longer Scarce
Consumers care about the Relevance of Content, not it’s Source — “Tier 1 to Me”
“Context is King”

Social Relevance is the Key
Too Much Choice is the new Consumer Pain Point
Attention Management is the new Frontier of Innovation
The Evolution of Attention Management — Web Content:
Editorial = Y! Directory ->
Automated = Google Search; Y! Search ->
Social =; Digg; Y! MyWeb; Technorati

– “Context is King” comes from a presentation Randy‘s been giving inside Y! and has promised to blog about (going all the way back to this post)
– “Attention Management” is a term I first heard from Ian
– 9 days after Marco delivered this presentation, Bear Sterns released a report called “The Long Tail: Why Aggregation & Context and Not (Necessarily) Content are King in Entertainment”

3 thoughts on “Inside the Mind of (a) Yahoo!”

  1. I havent followed through all the links yet, but I wanted to give my quick precis and comment first. Is he roughly saying?

    “Sure, in the old battle between producers and distributors, the (now infinte) producers have won. BUT, for the smart distributor, a brand new game has started that is even better. It’s not “owning the pipes” anymore; rather, it’s “building the smartest pipes.” Consumers choose their distributor based on how much it knows about them, their communities, their interests, and– just as important– how EASY is it to access across ALL of their devices.”

    If so, I would say: “HEAR, HEAR! And turning the consumer from passive recipient of lowest common denominator content to a free agent actively engaged and empowered by their choices can do for modern society what democracy did for monarchies! To the Bastille!” Or, more calmly: “GO YAHOO!”

  2. Dan, I couldn’t have said it better myself. I like the “smart pipes” bit a lot. Might have to even use it somewhere — with appropriate attribution, of course. Oh and it’s not so much “GO YAHOO!” as “Yahoo! Go” 😉

  3. Good to hear…simply because I’m a fan of Yahoo Go. Definitely a step in the right direction for Yahoo. Now, for your next trip…more ability to upload content from Yahoo Go (reviews, 360 entries, a better solution for photo upload to Flickr – although I like the upload system for Yahoo Photos).

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