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Yahoo and Spin

October 1, 2015

Quote to note: You may have to pay to read “Yahoo’s Got Spin, Not Substance.” The article appears in my dead tree copy of the Wall Street Journal on September 30, 2015, on page c-16 which features a touch of money green ink. The write up is basic: The IRS has not yet granted Yahoo a no tax pass on its sale of its stake in Alibaba. What caught my attention was this quote to note:

Once Alibaba is out of the picture, Yahoo investors have little to look forward to.

Yikes. Does this mean that Yahoo’s semantic search strategy is not working?

Stephen E Arnold, October 1, 2015

Harsh Criticism of Yahoo

September 24, 2015

Kill dear old Yahoo? IBTimes reports on some harsh words from an ivory-tower type in, “NYU Professor: Yahoo Ought to Be ‘Euthanised’ and Marissa Mayer’s Pregnancy Saved her Job.” It seems marketing professor Scott Galloway recently criticized the company, and its famous CEO, in a televised Bloomberg interview. In his opinion, any website with Yahoo’s traffic should be rolling in dough, and the company’s struggles are the result of mismanagement. As for his claim that the “most overpaid CEO in history” only retains her position due to her pregnancy? Reporter Mary-Ann Russon writes:

“Galloway says that Yahoo would not be willing to face the public backlash that would come from firing a woman in such a position of power who has just announced she is pregnant.

“This is not a stretch since there are still far fewer women in leadership positions than men – as of March 2015, only 24 of the CEOs in Fortune 500 companies are women – and the issue with how companies perceive family planning remains a sore point for many career-minded women (Read: Gamechangers: Why multimillionaire ‘mom’ Marissa Mayer is damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t).

“However, Galloway also pointed the finger of blame for Yahoo’s woes at its board, which he said has been a ‘lesson in poor corporate governance,’ since there have been five CEOs in the last seven years.”

Though Yahoo was a great success around the turn of the millennium, it has fallen behind as users migrate their internet usage to mobile devices (with that format’s smaller, cheaper ads). Though many still use its free apps, nowadays most of Yahoo’s revenue comes from its Alibaba investment.

So what does Galloway recommend? “It should be sold to Microsoft,” he declared. “We should put a bullet in this story called ‘Yahoo’.” Ouch. Can Yahoo reverse their fortunes, or is it too late for the veteran Internet company?

Cynthia Murrell, September 24, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Yahoo: Jelly for the Peanut Butter Memo

September 14, 2015

In 2006, I learned that a Yahooligan wrote what is findable in Google as the “peanut butter manifesto.” The alleged author of the peanut butter analysis left Purpleville but thoughtfully updated his write up in 2013. The points which stick to the roof of my mind were: [a] Yahoo was doing too much with too few resources and [b] Yahooligans leaked information outside of Purpleville. Interesting to some, but the Yahoo is not germane to what I do unless the company makes wild and crazy assertions about its excellence in search, its semantic research, and the other topics I keep in the room with my favorite hobby horse.

I read “Straight Outta Sunnyvale: Yahoo Manager Gone after Racially Charged E-Mail.” It seems that another Yahooligan wrote an internal document and revealed truths about the Purple monster. I am one of those individuals who is easily confused. I assumed that the hipsters at Yahoo were in step with the trends.

I noted this passage in the “Straight Outta Sunnyvale” article:

Meghna Virick, a professor of management at San Jose State University, said Mr. Shen’s [former Yahooligan and alleged Straight Outta memo author] prompt departure from Yahoo was “harsh” and a missed opportunity to have a broader discussion at the company about what is permissible. “Yes, it’s embarrassing, and yes, it’s humiliating, but it’s sometimes good to let this stuff surface,” Prof. Virick said. “It’s important to have discussions about it, to treat this as an opportunity to talk about it with the rest of the Yahoo community. Because if [Mr. Shen] felt comfortable documenting it by e-mail, there’s a likelihood that there could be a culture of disrespect.”

Disrespect? Interesting.

Yahoo may not be able to generate robust organic growth, but its staff can crank out the internal documents which contribute to my appreciation of the Sillycon Valley business environment. I also like the meme power of their memos. Peanut butter and straight outta Sunnyvale. Very clever writing in my view.

Asterisks can be powerful. Ah, dear, old Yahoo. “So don’t be a punk.” I am not sure what that means but the phrase speaks to some at Yahoo. I wonder if the injunction will improve the company’s information access technologies. Dog food?

Stephen E Arnold, September 14, 2015

Search Your Yahoo Mail? Yeah, Right

August 19, 2015

While Web site search used to be considered the worst before Google released a high-performing search widget, the title now officially goes to email search.  Nobody wants to search through their email to find a missing email and you are doomed if you even think about using a mail application such as Outlook or Apple Mail.   In part of its rebranding effort, Yahoo is taking measures to fix email search, says the New York Times in “Yahoo Tweaks Email To Make Search More Personal.”

Yahoo has been working for a year to improve email search and now Yahoo mail has implemented the changes.  It now offers auto complete and suggestions when a search term is typed into the query box.  It will also index attachments and links included in emails, so users do not have to find the actual email they were in.  The sorting options have also been updated and social media accounts can now be synced.

The changes are small and the auto complete/suggestions usually revert to basic keyword suggestions, but it is a step in the right direction.  Yahoo does not want to overhaul the mail system too quickly, because, as anyone knows, too many changes at once are upsetting to users.

“Instead, Yahoo is subtly making changes. Last month, for example, it added a small plus button to the bottom right of the window used to compose emails. If you click on that button, you can drag and drop photos and documents from your email archive, pull in an animated GIF from Yahoo’s Tumblr social network, or add the results of a web search.”

Yahoo made a good business choice and is working to improve its email and other applications.  It will be interesting to watch the changes unfold.

Whitney Grace, August 19, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Yahoo: Semantic Search Is the Future

August 16, 2015

I love it when Yahoo explains the future of search. The Xoogler has done the revisionism thing and shifted from Yahoo as a directory built by silly humanoids to a leader in search. Please, do not remember that Yahoo bought Inktomi in 2002 and then rolled out a wild and crazy search system in cahoots with IBM in 2006. (By the way, that search solution brought my IBM multi cpu, DASD equipped, RAM stuffed server to its knees. At least, the “free” software installed.)


Now to business: I read “The Future of Search Relies on Semantic Technologies.” For me, semantic technologies have been part of search for many years. But never mind reality. Let’s get to the Reddi-wip in the Yahoo confection.

Yahoo asserts:

Search companies are thus investing in information extraction and data fusion, as well as more and more advanced question-answering capabilities on top of the collected information. The need for these technologies is only increasing with mobile search, where providing results as ten blue links leads to a very poor user experience.

I would point out that as lousy as blue links are, these links produce about $60 billion a year for the Alphabet Google thing and enough zeros for the Microsoft wizards to hang on to its online advertising business even as it loses enthusiasm for other aspects of the Bing thing.

Yahoo adds:

We are a consumer internet company, so for us there is little difference between our internal and external representations.

My comment is a simple question, “What the heck is Yahoo saying?”

I also highlighted this semantic gem:

At Yahoo Labs, we work in advancing the sciences that underlie these approaches, i.e. Natural Language Processing, Information Retrieval and the Semantic Web.

I like the notion of Yahoo advancing science. I wonder if these advances will lead to advances in top line revenue, stabilizing management, and producing search results that are sort of related to the query.

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Bing Is A Winner…Huh?

July 29, 2015

Bing is the joke of Internet search.  Skilled Web surfers…no, scratch that term.  Nobody “surfs” the Internet anymore, unless you are an older person trying to maintain relevancy.  Skilled Web users Google or play DuckDuckGo, but according to Mashable, Bing might be ringing in as many jokes anymore, “Microsoft’s Bing Isn’t Such A Failure After All.”

Microsoft VP of advertiser and publisher Rik van der Kooi said that Bing is now able to pay for itself, contrary to its launch six years ago when it hemorrhaged cash from the beginning.  Microsoft wants Bing to be even more profitable by its 2016 fiscal year, which started earlier this month on July 1.

“Microsoft should provide more clarity on Bing’s financials with its next earnings release in July. Profitable or not, Bing is clearly moving in the right direction. The service’s improved financial position, combined with recent strides in pushing its share of the search market to 20%, offer the clearest argument yet that Microsoft still has the power to muscle its way into lucrative and mature technology categories and find solid footing there.”

The article recounts Bing’s unprofitable history, culminating in its more recent successes that have funneled more green into the search engine. This includes Apple making Bing the default search on its mobile OS, a renewed partnership with Yahoo, a ten year deal with AOL, and Bing sending map imaging to Uber.  It finishes by calling Bing a contender and it looks like that may be true.  Let’s wait until they start making self-driving cars until victory is declared.

Whitney Grace, July 29, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Yahoo: A Return to Web Search?

July 24, 2015

I have only a hazy recollection of a conversation with Dave Filo, one of the founders of Yahoo. That was a long time ago. Chris Kitze and I had started The Point, which was a curated list of G-rated Web sites. The telephone call was to discuss what we were doing and what Yahoo was doing. We were doing essentially the same thing, which was okay. We aimed at doing the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval thing with our Top 5% of the Internet. The Yahooligans were creating a general directory of Internet sites. Our approaches were complementary. We sold to Lycos (CMGI) and Yahoo did its Yahoo thing until today.

I thought about the manually assembled Web directory and the look at the listings approach of Yahoo. We had a lousy search engine along with categories for the Point. I never thought of Yahoo as being a Web search engine. That came later when Yahoo experimented, licensed, bought Inktomi, and ended up with a deal to get a Web search thing from Microsoft.

Imagine how the headline “Yahoo Wants to Return to Its Roots as a Search Engine” created some associative dissonance for me. Yahoo was a list. A manually constructed list of links. Yahoo was a directory first. Search came later and, in my opinion, never arrived. The write up states:

Yahoo wants to be a search giant once more.

Even the azure chip consultants are struggling with this Xoogler vision. I highlighted this gem from the ground level of consulting insight:

However, Gartner analyst Mike McGuire tells Quartz he thinks Yahoo’s renewed focus on search is “a bit quixotic,” questioning its ability to execute and capture market share.

Okay. Yahoo is a weird 1990s thing which is, I suppose, the last portal standing. Search is a bridge too far for many companies. Maybe that’s why there are just a couple of Web search engines that get the bulk of the traffic and an information highway with some smaller outfits which the high speed drivers zoom right by. When was the last time you stopped at or

I understand the enthusiasm for writing something, anything, that seems new and fresh. But Yahoo does not have roots in search. Consequently it, like many other companies, has disappointed with its approach to information access. Nevertheless, the article goes its merry way just like Yahoo. Sympathetic harmonics at work.

Stephen E Arnold, July 24, 2015

Coveo Partners with Etherios on Salesforce Services

July 7, 2015

Professional services firm Etherios is teaming up with Coveo in a joint mission to add even more value to customers’ Salesforce platforms, we learn from “Etherios and Coveo Announce Strategic Alliance” at Yahoo Finance. Etherios is a proud Salesforce Platinum Partner. The press release tells us:

 “Coveo connects information from across a company’s IT ecosystem of record and delivers the knowledge that matters to customers and agents in context. Coveo for Salesforce – Communities Edition helps customers solve their own cases by proactively offering case-resolving knowledge suggestions, and Coveo for Salesforce – Service Cloud Edition allows customer support agents to upskill as they engage customers by injecting case-resolving content and experts into the Salesforce UI as they work.

“Etherios provides customers with consulting and implementation services in the areas of Sales, Customer Service, Field Service and IoT [Internet of Things]. … Etherios capabilities span operational strategy, business process, technical design and implementation expertise.”

 Founded in 2005, Coveo leverages search technology to boost users’ skills, knowledge, and proficiency while supplying tools for collaboration and self-service. The company maintains offices in the U.S. (SanMateo, CA), the Netherlands, and Quebec.

 A division of Digi International, Etherios launched in 2008 specifically to supply cloud-based tools for Salesforce users. They prefer to inhabit the cutting edge, and operate out of Chicago, Dallas, and San Francisco.

 Cynthia Murrell, July 7, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

How Does a Xoogler Address Search?

July 2, 2015

There are two ways to answer this question.

At Verizon AOL, the approach is to use Bing and the Microsoft ad platform. See “AOL Takes Over Majority of Microsoft’s Ad Business, Swaps Google Search For Bing.” You may have to pay with something other than Greek coded euros to view this article.

At Yahoo, the approach may be to use Google search results, not Microsoft Bing’s. Will Yahoo embrace the GOOG? According to “Yahoo Search Testing Google Search Results: Search PandaMonium”, this may be happening.

The write up states:

I am uncertain to what degree they [sic The author seems to be referring to Yahoo] are testing search results from Google, but on some web browsers I am seeing Yahoo! organics and ads powered by Bing & in other browsers I am seeing Yahoo! organics and ads powered by Google. Here are a couple screenshots.

Will the change have an impact on the relevance of Yahoo search results? Jury is out.

Stephen E Arnold, July 2, 2015

ClearStory Is On the Move

July 1, 2015

The article on Virtual-Strategy Magazine titled ClearStory Data Appoints Dr. Timothy Howes as Chief Technology Offiver; Fromer Vice President of Yahoo, CTO of HP Software, Opsware, and Netscape discusses Howe’s reputation as an innovative thinker who helped invent LDAP. His company Rockmelt Inc. was acquired by Yahoo and he also co-founded Loudcloud, which is now known as Opsware, with the founders of VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, who are current backers of ClearStory Data. Needless to say, obtaining his services is quite a coup for ClearStory. Howe discusses his excitement to join the team in the article,

“There’s a major technology shift happening in the data market right now as businesses want to see and explore more data faster. ClearStory is at the forefront of delivering the next-generation data analysis platform that brings Spark-powered, fast-cycle analysis to the front lines of business in a beautiful, innovative user experience that companies are in dire need of today,” said Howes. “The ClearStory architectural choices made early on, coupled with the focus on an elegant, collaborative user model is impressive.”

The article also mentions that Ali Tore, formerly of Model N, has been named the new Chief Product Officer. Soumitro Tagore of the startup Clari will become the VP of Engineering and Development Operations. ClearStory Data is intent on the acceleration of the movement of data for businesses. Their Intelligent Data Harmonization platform allows data from different sources to be quickly and insightfully explored.

Chelsea Kerwin, July 1, 2014

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

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