Yahoo Has Its Mojo Back

    March 29, 2005

I’ve seen numerous folks commenting on Om Malik’s recent posting about Yahoo: How Yahoo Got Its Mojo Back. In it he credits several things…

Yahoo's Lab
Yahoo’s Working On Their Mojo

Editor’s Note:  Yahoo is hard at it. They’ve come out swinging in 2005. In fact, some think they are in a position to overtake Google as search engine/portal of choice (yes, I know Google isn’t a portal, but it’s a hugely popular home page). What are your feelings about this? Does Yahoo’s new and upcoming services entice you?

Discuss at WebProWorld.

… (including me and Russell–thanks Om!) for a resurgence of interest and appreciation for what we’ve been doing these last months.

Read Malik’s post

And what it also has a couple of guys, I like to call them blog evangelists, who knowingly or not, have brought the right kind of attention to the company. Russell Beattie who recently joined Yahoo has been blogging furiously (much to my annoyance) about Yahoo and its wireless efforts. In normal course of events, Yahoo would have issued a press release, and many of us would have paid little or no attention. Jeremy Zawodny is the other and has helped the company focus on some of the newer social media trends. I have never met him, but if his blog is anything to go by, then perhaps he is spreading the open media religion at Yahoo. The blog-evangelists unlike press relations folks, only write when there is something important to say. That is if they want to maintain their credibility.

(Mental Note: Meet Om in person one of these days… Buy him a drink!)

This makes me especially happy, because it tells me we’re on the right track and that some of the stuff I set out to do is beginning to happen.

Last October I wrote the following about my job change (from “MySQL Geek” to “Search Evangelist”):

Instead of hacking away on software bits, I’m going to be working to:

  • make sure our products kick the necessary amount of ass
  • better communicate what we’re thinking about and building
  • incorporate outside feedback and ideas into what we’re doing
  • recruit more smart people
  • While I can hardly take credit for a lot of what we’ve done, I’m very glad to be involved in some capacity. In fact, I can think of at least one example for each of those four things that we’ve done in recent history.

    1. Kick-ass products: Our Image Search and Video Search products. Search for Creative Commons And Y!Q.
    2. Communicate: We do that regularly on the Yahoo Search blog. The Y!Q story is an example of that.
    3. Listen: The 360 preview last week–our guests did 80% of the talking. Comments that come in via the Search blog. We’ve implemented several requested features in our Search Web Services. And there’s some other stuff that you’ll see soon enough.
    4. Recruit: We got Russell. :-) And now the Flickr team. And we’re working on many more, but I obviously can’t talk about them. (Wanna be next? Mail me a resume–preferably your own.)

    What’s this all mean?

    It means we’re (back?) on the right track. And not only are we on that track, we’re moving faster and faster on it. If you read the Threadwatch posting Yahoo’s Efforts to Outshine Google, you might think that it’s all about beating Google.

    They’re a big motivating factor. There’s no argument about that. But it’s really not what gets me up in the morning. To me, there’s nothing more satisfying than hearing (or reading) other people talk about the great stuff they see us doing. When Joyce says “I’m seriously thinking of moving part of my blog, if not the whole thing, over to Yahoo 360” I think, “wow… we’re on to something here.”

    When I run across blog postings that tell the story of how someone just discovered (or rediscovered) a Yahoo service, I can’t help but to smile a bit–especially if it’s one of our Search services. Scoble’s A tale of search engine noise is a recent example. The same goes for SiliconBeat’s CC Search story.

    It means we’re doing stuff that matters. It means people are beginning to notice. I’m not sure what happened in the last week, but the positive noise level about Yahoo on various sites I read has increased quite a bit. It’s been trending up for months now, but it feels like there we’ve just seen a big spike.

    And we’ve really noticed.

    What’s next?

    Someone could just look at this and say, “Wow! You did it!” But this is not a short term exercise. This isn’t about trying to drum up noise in the blog world in the hopes that some of it crosses over to the mainstream press.

    Here’s what I think…

    What people have begun to notice are the early results of a more fundamental change going on at Yahoo. Some have described it as re-writing our corporate DNA. That happens in a number of ways and for a number of reasons, but fundamentally things are changing in a deeper way. New people. New ideas. New products. New markets and opportunities. New features.

    So, back to the question of what’s next… More of the same!

    (Including some stuff you might not be expecting.)

    Mmmmm… Mojo.

    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.