Yahoo Search Execs Blast CFO Comments

    January 25, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

One may feel sorry for Yahoo CFO Susan Decker, whose comments in an interview regarding Yahoo’s place in the search world, ie second to Google, have generated a heated response in the Yahoo Search Blog. Maybe Decker’s comments in her chat with Bloomberg were taken out of context, as some bloggers have suggested.

Yahoo Search Execs Blast CFO Comments
Apparently, Second Place IS The First Loser

Here is what Bloomberg printed in their interview with her:

“We don’t think it’s reasonable to assume we’re going to gain a lot of share from Google,” Chief Financial Officer Susan Decker said in an interview. “It’s not our goal to be No. 1 in Internet search. We would be very happy to maintain our market share.

Bloomberg is a pretty solid and reliable news source. It’s difficult to imagine a scenario where one of its reporters would put together that statement out of context. Decker has not denied making that statement, so it seems safe to take these comments at face value, despite one commenter’s opinion on the Yahoo Search Blog that “Decker was quoted incorrectly.”

Yahoo’s talented search team must have taken them as a slap in the face. Yahoo Search executives Qi Lu, VP Engineering, and Eckart Walther, VP Products, posted a response to the widespread coverage of Decker’s comments rebutting her statement:

There’s been a lot of conjecture and confusion today about Yahoo!’s commitment to being the world’s best search engine-talk which anyone who’s been following the evolution of Yahoo! Search would have realized is just plain wrong.

While some people immediately realized this, we thought it made sense to briefly recap how focused we are in search and our passion to be the world’s leading search engine…

Lu and Walther then listed their reasons for keeping the faith: search relevance is improving since the engine launched two years ago; they have smart, respected scientists working on improvements; Yahoo has hundreds of projects aimed at improving search; and they have opened Yahoo Search with web services for innovative third-party application developers.

The duo then summarized their view of Yahoo’s place in the search world, and it’s not the view that Decker has:

This commitment to being the best should be crystal clear from our investments in talented people, research, innovation and new products. Believe it or not, we are still in the early days of search. As all of us at Yahoo! agree, we’re in it for the long haul, and we’re in it to win.

Maybe Decker, the Search team, and a couple of people from PR and legal need to get together for sushi and hash out a cohesive, unified message about Yahoo and its search intentions. Because right now, their search message is mixed, at best, and that needs to be fixed.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.