Yahoo’s Post-Semel Scorecard

    September 10, 2007

Valleywag believes Yahoo hasn’t done much, a couple of months into the "100 day" plan put forward by new/interim CEO Jerry Yang. Maybe summer isn’t the best time to start the clock on something like that, though.

Without second-guessing whether these were good ideas in the first place, here’s the update on what Yahoo has or has not done from my list of random big ideas posted as An Open Letter to Jerry Yang on June 19:

* Yahoo has not acquired any hot little search startup;

* Yahoo has not acquired Yelp;

* Yahoo has not acquired GoDaddy;

* Yahoo has not acquired Research in Motion, but Microsoft was rumored to be interested;

* I am not aware of whether Yahoo has downsized inefficiencies in management — I’ll leave that to Valleywag. However, some key Yahoos have left for startups like Veoh. This probably means Yahoo will need to show it is serious about attracting good people, by showing the door to less effective managers, and recruiting some high-profile people. Jeremy Zawodny showed good initiative by jokingly attempting to recruit Matt Cutts through his blog. Matt was jovial enough to reply in comments.

* No sign of a partnership with Microsoft;

* The home page is as uninspiring as ever (if you like that sort of thing, is better);

One key move has been to acquire an ad serving company, BlueLithium, to follow on the acquisition of Right Media. Although the latter is not a major deal, the trend is important.

As long as advertisers are disgruntled with current ad networks and "contextual ad platforms," this is an area that new product development needs to focus heavily on. That, plus gobbling up more inventory in a variety of verticals (personals, home, travel, social networking, etc.), will have to be the focus for Yahoo for the remaining few days of this 100-day segment, and the 100-day extension we’ll have to give them, because the wheels grind slowly when it comes to turning around a multibillion-dollar company.

It’ll be interesting to see if Yahoo can integrate new ad buying features (and more relevant inventory) into its Panama platform, or whether they’ll create separate automated platforms for buying ads online based on the emerging "exchange" paradigm that will eventually largely eclipse the old networks and traditional media buying functions.