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Web 2.0 Expo: Jeff Weiner of Yahoo! Interview

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Wednesday’s keynote at the Web 2.0 Expo was Yahoo’s Executive Vice President of their Network Division. Jeff first covered what the network division consists of:

  • Email/communications
  • Media business so we package and program content
  • Search business
  • We tie it together through the front door of Yahoo.

Then the following is a paraphrased version of the discussion between Jeff Weiner and John Battelle.

John: Yahoo! reported earnings yesterday and Wall St. yawned. The statements from Terry Semel that Panama is doing well in January raised expectations and then you didn’t blow away expectations. Compared to the Google earnings which they seem to knock out of the park, why does it feel like they are running circles around you?

Jeff: We ended up in the middle of the range provided by Terry and Sue, so we’re extremely happy with the results of Panama so far and they will get better each quarter. We’re executing and we’re on the right path.

John: What about Google? Why am I compelled to ask them about you? You have the biggest network on the web, but everyone focuses their attention on Google?

Jeff: They’ve had a great run over the past 3-4 years, and Yahoo has had some slip-ups. But we’re building for the long term to be around in 11-12 years. We’ve had some nice attention recently with Panama, Yahoo! Pipes, and our deal with the newspaper consortium.

John: Do you think there is a distinction in approach between the way Google and Yahoo view the rights of content holders?

Jeff: I don’t know if there is a distinction, but we do value the rights of intellectual property holders. We’re building the largest video network with NBC, Universal, Comcast, Myspace, etc. And our recent relationship that was announced with Viacom is another example of media companies wanting to work with us.

John: Isn’t there a big game of Stratego going on here? Are people working with you because they don’t want to work with Google?

Jeff: I don’t think it’s because of Google, I think we provide value that others don’t. We work with media companies well and package content better than anyone. There is a reason we’re #1 in News, #1 in Music, #2 in Sports, and back to #1 in Finance after being out of that spot the last couple of years.

John: Two acquisitions you guys have been rumored to be involved in recently, the Doubleclick acquisition by Google and the Facebook acquisition. What can you tell us?

Jeff: I can’t comment on specifics, but the Doubleclick deal is no surprise. There is a trend that the largest providers of advertising services want to be full-service shops. The Doubleclick acquisition, AOL buying Advertising.com a couple of years ago, etc. We were the leader in display, and we went out and bought Overture a few years ago to get performance. In regards to Facebook I think it’s a great site that is continuing to execute and needs to continue to execute.

John: Is there pressure to make a big acquisition?

Jeff: There is no pressure, but we’re open to acquisitions where they make sense. We’ve got to get together our social assets. We don’t have something like Myspace or Facebook yet.

John: You say yet, so are you building this? You had Yahoo360 and that didn’t take off.

Jeff: We have great raw assets. Yahoo Groups, Yahoo Answers reaches 90 million uniques, delicious, Flickr, Jumpcut, and Bix. We have lots of great assets and we need to put them all together.

John: Isn’t that your job? To put them together? No pressure, right? Anyway, I need to get to one last fun question. Microsoft.

Everyone laughs.

John: What’s your opinion on Microsoft, this formerly great company who has not seemed to find the internet magic. They decided to go their own way and build their own search instead of working with you guys like they were. What should they have done over the last couple of years?

Jeff: You can never count out Microsoft. They are still very powerful.

John: You can imagine they were not pleased in losing the Doubleclick deal. They had 3.1 billion, so something else must have happened.

Jeff: It’s a very intense competitive landscape. Much like a chess board as you mentioned earlier.

John: Are you and Microsoft going to merge?

Jeff: No plans that I know of. I would’ve liked to have seen that relationship with Microsoft stay together. We’re always open to partnerships as we’ve done recently with Viacom, ebay, the newspaper consortium, and others.

John: Thanks for your time Jeff.

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Web 2.0 Expo: Jeff Weiner of Yahoo! Interview
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