July 30, 2016
Short honk: How does a former Baby Bell plan? The answer appears to be, “Not too much.” Navigate to “AOL’s Tim Armstrong Says ‘Scale Is Imperative’ in the Verizon-Yahoo Deal.”
Here’s the quote to note:
… Because this has been an auction process, he noted, rather than a direct sale, there has been no time to make specific integration plans between Verizon and Yahoo. In fact, according to many sources, Verizon has had little insight into a number of issues, including the terms of the contracts with key employees, that it will need to make plans for the future.
Is this an example of “Fire, ready, aim”? Will two Xooglers blend to create a viable competitor to Facebook and Google? What happens if 1 Xoogler + 1 Xoogler = 0?
Stephen E Arnold, July 30, 2016
July 7, 2016
I read “Information about DuckDuckGo’s Partnership with Yahoo.” Yahoo is into search DuckDuckGo style. According to the write up:
our latest partnership with Yahoo enables DuckDuckGo to get access to features you’ve been requesting for years:
Date filters let you filter results from the last day, week and month.
Site links help you quickly get to subsections of sites.
Farewell, Inktomi, AllTheWeb, Google, Microsoft. Yahoo, and home brew craziness. has a new findability future. Now about the size of the index? Will Yahoo’s new owner have a fresh idea? Worth watching.
Stephen E Arnold, July 7, 2016
July 6, 2016
I read “Marissa Mayer Says She’s ‘Heartened’ by Interest in Yahoo.” I noted a factoid I found interesting. Here’s the passage I highlighted:
Another question about Yahoo Mail revealed that about 1% of Yahoo Mail users actually pay for the service. But Yahoo Mail is much more important than that, Mayer said. “For every dollar that we make on Yahoo Mail on advertisements, we will make $3 elsewhere in our network on search or on some of our digital content,” she said. “So mail is incredibly important for us because of the frequency it drives and because of the strength it drives throughout the network.”
Email is a net revenue generator. Too bad some of that money is not invested in improving Yahoo email; for example, bulk deletes which are usable, a reasonable search system, and support for log ins from outside the US without wonky behavior. Heartened?
Stephen E Arnold, July 6, 2 016
June 22, 2016
The word “all” in “All the Startups Yahoo Bought in the Last Few Years, and What Happened to Them” turned me off. I persisted and worked my way through the shopping list of outfits purchased by Yahoo since the Xoogler seized the steering wheel. Like Hewlett Packard, Yahoo has found itself in the spotlight. HP may have the marvel of the Autonomy acquisition, subsequent write down, and legal dust up crown. But Yahoo has been more profligate on its multi year shopping spree.
The write up points me to this write up, “Here’s What Happened To All 53 of Marissa Mayer’s Yahoo Acquisitions.” Another “all.” Sigh. The upside of the Xoogler on the bridge was:
When she took over in mid-2012, employees were so enthusiastic about her arrival that one even photoshopped her face on Obama-style “hope” posters and hung them up around the company’s headquarters. Mayer did her best to live up to lofty expectations. She deployed quick fixes to solve Yahoo’s morale problems, including expanding parental leave and hiring high-profile celebrities to run the company’s media division.
The downside? I read:
But what’s clear is that the MaVeNS and acquisitions rescue strategy hasn’t been able to save the company from itself, despite Mayer’s protestations that it was successful. It’s worth looking, then, at exactly why these deals were made, and what has happened since.
Yep, PowerPoint fever, which is a variant of Excel spreadsheet fever. The problem is that the digital representations are not reality.
I learned that the Xoogler took these types of decisions:
- Shut down and “gutted” some of the acquisitions
- Rolled some companies into “existing divisions”
- A few companies are still “kicking”; for example, Tumblr.
I recommend that you work through the companies and the brief commentaries.
The way I read “Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer Increased Spending after Secretly Agreeing with Investors to Cut Costs” undermines my confidence in the behavior of Xooglers. I thought ethical behavior was a core Google aptitude. Was I incorrect in this assumption?
What’s evident is that some Xooglers are outstanding PowerPoint types. The Excel expertise seems to be wanting. I assume the Board of Directors were convinced by the Xoogler’s digital confections. Savvy folks.
Stephen E Arnold, June 22, 2016
June 6, 2016
When Alistair Duff, professor of information society and policy at Scotland’s Edinburgh Napier University, checked out Silicon Valley, he identified several disturbing aspects of the prevailing tech scene. The Atlantic’s Kevah Waddell interviews the professor in, “The Information Revolution’s Dark Turn.”
The article reminds us that, just after World War II, the idealistic “information revolution” produced many valuable tools and improved much about our lives. Now, however, the Silicon-Valley-centered tech scene has turned corporate, data-hungry, and self-serving. Or, as Duff puts it, we are now seeing “the domination of information technology over human beings, and the subordination of people to a technological imperative.”
Waddell and Duff discuss the professor’s Normative Theory of the Information Society; the potential for information technology to improve society; privacy tradeoffs; treatment of workers; workplace diversity; and his preference that tech companies (like Apple) more readily defer to government agencies (like the FBI). Regarding that last point, it is worth noting Duff’s stance against the “anti-statism” he believes permeates Silicon Valley, and his estimation that “justice” outranks “freedom” as a social consideration.
Waddell asks Duff what a tech hub should look like, if Silicon Valley is such a poor example. The professor responds:
“It would look more like Scandinavia than Silicon Valley. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t develop the tech industry—we can learn a massive amount from Silicon Valley….
“But what we shouldn’t do is incorporate the abuse of the boundary between work and home, we should treat people with respect, we should have integrated workforces. A study came out that only 2 percent of Google’s, Yahoo’s, and a couple of other top companies’ workforces were black. Twelve percent of the U.S. population is black, so that is not good, is it? I’m not saying they discriminate overtly against black people—I very much doubt that—but they’re not doing enough to change things.
“We need the best of Silicon Valley and the best of European social democracy, combined into a new type of tech cluster.
“There’s a book by Manuel Castells and Pekka Himanen called The Information Society and the Welfare State: The Finnish Model, which argues that you can have a different type of information society from the libertarian, winner-takes-all model pioneered in Silicon Valley. You can have a more human, a more proportioned, a tamer information society like we’ve seen in Finland.”
Duff goes on to say that the state should absolutely be involved in building the information society, a concept that goes over much better in Europe than in the U.S. He points to Japan as a country which has built a successful information society with guidance from the state. See the interview for more of Professor Duff’s observations.
Cynthia Murrell, June 6, 2016
May 20, 2016
I avoid the Kardashians and other fame chasers, because I have better things to do with my time. I never figured that I would actually write about the Kardashians, but the phrase “never say never” comes into play. As I read Vanity Fair’s “Marissa Mayer Vs. ‘Kim Kardashian’s Ass” : What Sunk Yahoo’s Media Ambitions?” tells a bleak story about the current happenings at Yahoo.
Yahoo has ended many of its services, let go fifteen percent of staff, and there are very few journalists left on the team. The remaining journalists are not worried about producing golden content, they have to compete with a lot already on the Web, especially “Kim Kardashian’s ass” as they say.
When Marissa Mayer took over Yahoo as the CEO in 2012, she was determined to carve out Yahoo’s identity as a tech company. Mayer, however, wanted Yahoo to be media powerhouse, so she hired many well-known journalists to run specific niche projects in popular areas from finance to beauty to politics. It was not a successful move and now Yahoo is tightening its belt one more time. The Yahoo news algorithm did not mesh with the big name journalists, the hope was that their names would soar above popular content such as Kim Kardashian’s ass. They did not.
Much of Yahoo’s current work comes from the Alibaba market. The result is:
“But the irony is that Mayer, a self-professed geek from Silicon Valley, threw so much of her reputation behind high-profile media figures and went with her gut, just like a 1980s magazine editor—when even magazine editors, including those who don’t profess to “get” technology, have long abandoned that practice themselves, in favor of what the geeks in Silicon Valley are doing.”
Mayer was trying to create a premiere media company, but lower quality content is more popular than top of the line journalists. The masses prefer junk food in their news.
April 20, 2016
I think that the Huffington Post is part of America Online, which is part of Verizon, which is supposed to be interested in buying poor old Yahoo.
I thought about that chain of dependent clauses right after I read “The One-Time Ruler of the Web Has Lost More Than Its Mojo — A Lesson for Us All.” The write up does a good job of pointing out that Yahoo has been lost in space for a long, long time. I highlighted this statement:
One researcher tracked Yahoo!’s “boilerplate,” the block of text that describes a company’s self-description found at the bottom of most press releases. In 24 years the boilerplate changed 24 times!
What’s interesting in this mélange of popular and academic statements about the home of the Yahooligans is that the company has lacked vision. Ah, the vision thing. This argument is supported by a statement allegedly made by Helen Keller:
It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision.
Yahoo strikes me as an interesting company. One could argue that Yahoo did try to change to adapt to technology, competitors, and market opportunities. The effort, unlike Google’s approach, lacked the steady flow of cash produced by Google’s online advertising model.
Where did that Google online advertising model originate? GoTo.com which became Overture. Overture became a Yahoo property. The Google was “inspired” by that model. Perhaps one can view Google as a sibling of Yahoo, just a younger, sighted relative?
Stephen E Arnold, April 20, 2016
April 14, 2016
The article on VentureBeat titled As Tumblr’s Value Head to Zero, a Look at Where It Ranks Among Yahoo’s 5 Worst Acquisition Deals pokes fun at Yahoo’s tendency to spend huge amounts of cash for companies only to watch them immediately fizzle. In the number one slot is Broadcast.com. Remember that? Me neither. But apparently Yahoo doled out almost $6B in 1999 to wade into the online content streaming game only to shut the company down after a few years. And thusly, we have Mark Cuban. Thanks Yahoo. The article goes on with the ranking,
“2. GeoCities: Yahoo paid $3.6 billion for this dandy that let people who knew nothing about the Web make web pages. Fortunately, this was also mostly shut down, and nearly all of its content vanished, saving most of us from a lot GIF-induced embarrassment. 3. Overture: Yahoo paid $1.63 billion in 2003 for this search engine firm after belatedly realizing that some upstart called Google was eating its lunch. Spoiler alert: Google won.”
The article suggests that Tumblr would slide into fourth place given the $1.1B price tag and two year crash and burn. It also capitulates that there are other ways of measuring this list, such as: levels of hard to watch. By that metric, cheaper deals with more obvious mismanagement like the social sites Flickr or Delicious might take the cake.
Chelsea Kerwin, April 14, 2016
April 7, 2016
The Dark Web has been seen as a haven by anyone interested in untraceable internet activity. However, a recent article from Beta News, Tor Project says Google, CloudFlare and others are involved in dark web surveillance and disruption, brings to light the potential issue of Tor traffic being monitored. A CDN and DDoS protection service called CloudFlare has introduced CAPTCHAs and cookies to Tor for monitoring purpose and accusations about Google and Yahoo have also been made. The author writes,
“There are no denials that the Tor network — thanks largely to the anonymity it offers — is used as a platform for launching attacks, hence the need for tools such as CloudFlare. As well as the privacy concerns associated with CloudFlare’s traffic interception, Tor fans and administrators are also disappointed that this fact is being used as a reason for introducing measures that affect all users. Ideas are currently being bounced around about how best to deal with what is happening, and one of the simpler suggestions that has been put forward is adding a warning that reads “Warning this site is under surveillance by CloudFlare” to sites that could compromise privacy.”
Will a simple communications solution appease Tor users? Likely not, as such a move would essentially market Tor as providing the opposite service of what users expect. This will be a fascinating story to see unfold as it could be the beginning of the end of the Dark Web as it is known, or perhaps the concerns over loss of anonymity will fuel further innovation.
Megan Feil, April 7, 2016
April 2, 2016
I read “Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer Downplayed the Biggest Threat Facing the Company — and It Could End Up Getting Her Fired.” Another Xoogler management lesson surfaces. According to the write up:
“She [Ms. Mayer, the Xoogler] viewed [Starboard] as a ‘bit player’ because they owned such a small percentage, that this was a standard ploy for them to garner PR and attention,” one person familiar with the matter recounted of Mayer’s attitude to Starboard’s initial criticisms in 2014. “She did not take them seriously, when it first arose.”
What’s with the ignoring of reality? The answer I believe is the concept that when one is smart, the reality the smart person perceives is the operative reality for others. Xooglers are an interesting group. Whether creating new search systems (SRCH2) or planning community journalism (AOL), focusing on Xoogler’s perception of reality can have interesting consequences.
The write up reported:
“She believed that Yahoo was competing with Google and Facebook,” this person said. “She was so passionate about the product, and it created a layer of disbelief she had that anyone would question her.”
How wide spread is this characteristic? I would suggest it is the new black.
Stephen E Arnold, April 2, 2016