I have to admit that I don’t know a lot about Yahoo other than I used to be a raving fan. Then, sometime around 1998 the company decided they needed more revenues; changed my terms and conditions for email; sold my name to every two-bit spammer on the planet; my email spam when through the roof; and I mentally moved on.
Then Google showed up and they are the new Yahoo. And, that story is another post.
My next real encounter with Yahoo came last year when the company visited London Business School looking for eager young minds to fill their ranks. Or, well that’s what Portal said. I went to the recruiting night hoping to learn more about the company, network, eat a salmon roll in the marquee of death, etc. The night was fascinating, but not for the job opportunities. What was fascinating was how quickly it became obvious this company was in real trouble.
Strategy 101 and history says that conglomerates do not often work. Large companies that try to do everything for everybody were all the rage back in the 1960s but never fulfilled their promise to investors or the public. The only one that seems to do well is GE and some say it would unleash more value if some of the operating units were spun out. Again, another post.
What was stunning from Yahoo last year was their desire to become a large media conglomerate that was ‘a little bit of everything to everybody.’ When asked who their competitors were, their answer was ‘we don’t really have competitors.’ Except for one guy I was in a group with at NYU, most people understand this is obviously an incorrect answer. Every company has competitors.
Lemonade stands have Coke machines; the beach has the mountains, so when the company reps who were either delusional or drinking the company Cool-aid state that due to their design of technology and media no one can really compete. The only mental response is ‘oh, hmm, let’s take a picture of this because it isn’t going to be around too long.’
And, not surprisingly it hasn’t. Today marks just another step toward a breakup or obsolescence for this once up and coming superstar. In a way it’s a little sad, but since a quick check of my Yahoo email shows over 3000 spam messages, I can’t feel too bad for them.