The Flip Side

    March 23, 2006

I knew it would happen. Someone would latch onto my story about Yahoo! Finance and extrapolate to the whole company. It’s human nature.

Henry Blodget writes, among other things, the following:

Perhaps the enormous success the company achieved in its first five years has permanently infiltrated its DNA. Perhaps the first thing every Yahoo thinks when he or she wakes up every morning is “I am a Yahoo! I am rich, brilliant, and cool. Now, let’s see where I’m having today’s four-hour lunch.” Perhaps what motivates Yahoos these days is dreams of more visits from such inspirational business leaders as Tom Cruise (“My manager told me that next year Terry’s working on Tom Hanks!”). Perhaps the secret fantasy of many Yahoos is that, someday, they’ll finally be cool enough to be invited to the Oscars.

It’s so tempting to do that–to use my example as evidence for all of Yahoo being doomed. We all like to simplify and generalize.

But the reality is that there’s a ton of cool stuff going on here. Many groups are kicking ass, releasing great products, and getting users excited. The stuff I rant about is what particularly bugs or excites me. It’s a look into slices of what’s going on around here, but it’s hardly a representative sample.

Yahoo! Messenger now has voice calls with prices lower than Skype. Yahoo! Music Engine is still hard to beat if you’re not of the iPod cult (sadly, I am). The new Yahoo! Mail still has a line of people waiting to get in, and it’s not even done yet. There’s a ton of great stuff coming out of the Search groups. In fact, you’re going to hear more about it very, very soon. Heck, even the home page may get a new look.

I was just talking to Tom a few minutes ago about how hard it is for people outside a large organization to understand that there are many different realities in existence on the inside.

What motivates most Yahoos I know is trying to make cool stuff: products and services that their friends, family, and pretty much anyone wants to use. That doesn’t mean it’s always gonna be an easy ride. Most Yahoos weren’t here five years ago, so I don’t buy much of that DNA argument.

The day I start thinking we’re doomed is the day I start looking for another job.

Jeremy Zawodny is the author of the popular Jeremy Zawodny’s blog. Jeremy is part of the Yahoo search team and frequently posts in the Yahoo! Search blog as well.

Visit Jeremy’s blog: Jeremy Zawodny’s blog.