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Yahoo Management: Raising the Bar

May 20, 2015

I love it when Xooglers demonstrate how Googley behavior translates into down home management expertise. Two examples this morning:

  • The Wall Street Journal reported that the new Yahoo chief information officer has decided to leave Yahoo for other opportunities. You may have to pay to view the article or you can buy a dead tree version at your local news agent. (Local news agent! What was I thinking?)
  • The Alibaba deal worth lots of money may have hit a speed bump. You can get some of the details in “Yahoo Affirms Spinoff Plan as IRS Comments Trigger Share Slump.” That tax stuff is tricky. Accountants have so much to do and tax issues come up so infrequently.

Yahoo management continues to provide a flow of possible business school case examples.

Stephen E Arnold, May 20, 2015

Yahoo and Microsoft Announce Search Partnership Reboot

May 7, 2015

It seems that Microsoft and Yahoo are friends again, at least for the time being. Search Engine Watch announces, “Yahoo and Microsoft Amend Search Agreement.” The two companies have been trying to partner on search for the past six years, but it has not always gone smoothly. Writer Emily Alford tells us what will be different this time around:

“First, Yahoo will have greater freedom to explore other search platforms. In the past, Yahoo was rumored to be seeking a partnership with Google, and under the new terms, Microsoft and Yahoo’s partnership will no longer be exclusive for mobile and desktop. Under the new agreement, Yahoo will continue to serve Bing ads on desktop and mobile, as well as use Bing search results for the majority of its desktop search traffic, though the exact number was undisclosed.

“Microsoft and Yahoo are also making changes to the way that ads are served. Microsoft will now maintain control of the Bing ads salesforce, while Yahoo will take full control of its Gemini ads salesforce, which will leave Bing free to serve its own ads side by side with Yahoo search results.”

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer painted a hopeful picture in a prepared statement. She and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella have been working together, she reports, to revamp the search deal. She is “very excited to explore” the fresh possibilities. Will the happy relationship hold up this time around?

Cynthia Murrell, May 7, 2015

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Continued Growth and Success at Syl Semantics

May 5, 2015

The article on Yahoo New Zealand titled Syl Semantics Raises New Capital and Appoints New Directors begins by naming the two freshly-minted non-executive directors, Murray Nash and Gene Turner. This is the result of successful capital raising to the tune of a million dollars for the Wellington-based company. Syl Semantics will continue to focus on growing the company with the assistance of the new directors. The article explains,

“Murray Nash is Managing Director of Zusammen, an advisory firm specialising in strategy, finance and capital markets, risk management, and public policy. In 2013 Murray was manager of the Establishment Unit and subsequently the acting Chief Executive of Callaghan Innovation. Murray has been a senior manager in three financial risk management start-ups in New York – supplying technology solutions to global leaders in banking, insurance, asset management and prudential supervision. He has a MComm (Finance) from the University of Auckland.”

Gene Turner’s background is in law and banking. Syl Semantics was created in 2008 and has grown steadily since then, releasing Syl Search in 2011 with great success. Syl Semantics is focused on what they term “Information Intelligence” or the “ability to access and extract value, meaning and learning from information.” James Fowler, the Director of Sales and Marketing, spoke to the ambition and perseverance of the company, which hopes to gain more of a foothold in New Zealand and Australian markets.

Chelsea Kerwin, May 5, 2014

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Mobile Yahoo Is Just Moving Right Along

May 4, 2015

What’s with the Yahoo? I know the company has been struggling with revenues. There have been executive shuffles. The mail service is wonky.

I read “How Marissa Mayer Mobilized Yahoo” in hopes of finding some answers to the mysteries of creating a new password for Yahoo email or configuring MyYahoo settings so actual content appears. I yearn for more information about Yahoo’s advanced search technology. Oh, I thirst for information.

I learned:

Yahoo believes there are signs that Mayer’s bet on mobile is paying off already. Some 575 million of its 1 billion users now access offerings such as the Yahoo app, Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Weather, Yahoo News Digest, and Flickr on mobile devices. Its rate of mobile growth outpaces the industry average. In 2014, the first year the company broke out mobile revenue, it reported grossing $1.2 billion in the category. “We had to build that—the people, the core competencies, the product base, the users, the traffic, and that revenue—from scratch,” Mayer says. “And we did it really quickly.”

Yep, mobile. Search and service stability?

The write up reports?

Employees in the company’s media division can complain that bureaucracy substitutes for a clear sense of direction. One ex-employee reports that people still at the company grumble of months-long waits for required approvals on projects. But at least in mobile, which is a top-priority focus, Yahoo does seem to be moving fast.

Yes, fast. Mobile.

The article states:

Almost every day, she says [Marissa Mayer] , she hears from people who are “surprised” by how good Yahoo’s mobile apps are. It’s time to stop being surprised. For the first time in years, Yahoo is positioned for some kind of future success, whether mild or bold. It’s not the company she inherited, and that’s a victory that no one—not even a cabal of angry investors—can take away from Marissa Mayer.

Well, maybe. What about search? What about that flashy information access technology? What about revenue growth? What about those acquisitions? What about juicy profits?

The answer is, it seems, “Mobile.”


Stephen E Arnold, May 4, 2015

A Binging Double Take 

May 1, 2015

After you read this headline from Venture Beat, you will definitely be doing a double take: “ComScore: Bing Passes 20% Share In The US For The First Time.”  Bing has been the punch line for search experts and IT professionals ever since it was deployed a few years ago.  Anyone can contest that Bing is not the most accurate search engine, mostly due to it being a Microsoft product.  Bing developers have been working to improve the search engine’s accuracy and for the first time ever ComScore showed that both Google and Yahoo fell a 0.1 percentage and Bing gained 0.3 percent, most likely stealing it from DuckDuckGo and other smaller search engines.  Microsoft can proudly state that one in five searches are conducted on Bing.

The change comes after months of stagnation:

“For many months, ComScore’s reports showed next to no movement for each search service (a difference of 0.1 points or 0.2 points one way or the other, if that). A 0.3 point change is not much larger, but it does come just a few months after big gains from Yahoo. So far, 2015 is already a lot more exciting, and it looks like the search market is going to be worth paying close attention to.”

The article says that most of search engine usage is generated by what Internet browsers people use.  Yahoo keep telling people to move to Firefox and Google wants people to download Chrome.  The browser and search engine rivalries continue, but Google still remains on top.  How long will Bing be able to keep this bragging point?

Whitney Grace, May 1, 2015
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How do You use Your Email?

April 28, 2015

Email is still a relatively new concept in the grander scheme of technology, having only been around since the 1990s.  As with any human activity, people want to learn more about the trends and habits people have with email.  Popular Science has an article called “Here’s What Scientists Learned In The Largest Systematic Study Of Email Habits” with a self-explanatory title.  Even though email has been around for over twenty years, no one is quite sure how people use it.

So someone decided to study email usage:

“…researchers from Yahoo Labs looked at emails of two million participants who sent more than 16 billion messages over the course of several months–by far the largest email study ever conducted. They tracked the identities of the senders and the recipients, the subject lines, when the emails were sent, the lengths of the emails, and the number of attachments. They also looked at the ages of the participants and the devices from which the emails were sent or checked.”

The results were said to be so predictable that an algorithm could have predicted them. Usage has a strong correlation to age groups and gender. The young write short, quick responses, while men are also brief in their emails.  People also responded more quickly during work hours and the more emails they receive the less likely they are to write a reply.  People might already be familiar with these trends, but the data is brand new to data scientists.  The article predicts that developers will take the data and design better email platforms.

How about creating an email platform that merges a to-do list with emails, so people don’t form their schedules and tasks from the inbox.

Whitney Grace, April 28, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Digital Economy Growth Engines Lose RPMs

April 24, 2015

Short honk: I read several articles about the financial reports of Facebook, Google, and Yahoo. I enjoyed the explanations about the revenues and profits. Here are the write ups open on my desktop monitor at this moment:

Is there a message to be decrypted from these data? Yep.

Stephen E Arnold, April 24, 2015

Is Yahoo Is Like a 10 Year Old Rescued Boxer?

April 23, 2015

Yahoo is a tired old girl much like my 10 year old boxer. Some days Tess chases a butterfly or bird. She takes five or six steps and then flops down to catch her breath. Other days, Tess just naps and lets the hectic high tech world of Harrod’s Creek drift past her.

Yahoo is like Tess.

I read “Yahoo’s Mayer Buys Herself More Time.” Hiring a Xoogler to run a giant company is not a sure fire management move destined to deliver success. Some Xooglers do okay for themselves away from the quirky, attention deficit disorder, and entitlement charged world of Google. Others struggle.

This Bloomberg story seems to highlight a candidate for a business school case study. I can visualize the opening sentence now: “Marissa Mayer looked up from her tidy pile of Yahoo home page redesigns to learn from her new assistant to the assistant to the assistant vice president that she was one hour late for her 9 am meeting with the heads of ABC, CBS, and NBC…”

Back to the real world of hard hitting journalism. The article reported:

Mayer has proven she has the skill to get what she wants from adversaries, allies and partners. But her negotiation with Wall Street is her riskiest yet. She’s painting herself into a corner if her turnaround strategy fails. If it does, she will have shrunk Yahoo down to a size that attracts an aggressive buyer.

Perhaps the Xoogler at AOL will buy Yahoo? One plus one equals three for some Xoogler fans. I don’t care. I am more interested in the great new world of Yahoo search. Yikes, I have to take Tess for a short walk. She is a tired girl and needs special consideration. Just like Yahoo.

Stephen E Arnold, April 24, 2015

Yahoo News Off the Rails

April 21, 2015

The article titled Purple Reign on The Baffler tells the story of the derailment of Yahoo News. The author, Chris Lehmann, exerts all of his rhetorical powers to convey his own autobiography of having served as a Yahoo News editor after being downsized from a more reputable publication, along with any number of journalists and editors. The main draw was that Yahoo News was one of the few news organizations that were not bankrupt. In spite of being able to produce some high-caliber news, writers and editors at Yahoo were up against a massive bureaucracy that at its best didn’t understand the news and at its worst didn’t trust the news. For example, the author relays the story of one piece he posted on militia tactics of ambushing police by breaking the law,

“Before the post went live, I fielded an anxious phone call from a senior manager in Santa Monica. He was alarmed… for a simple reason: “I haven’t heard of this before.” I struggled to find a diplomatic way to explain that publishing things that readers hadn’t heard before was something that a news organization should be doing a whole lot more of: it was, in fact, the definition of “news.”

One of the saddest aspects of the corporate-controlled news outreach was the attempt to harness the power of the traffic on Yahoo’s site by making all internet users reporters. Obvious to anyone who has ever read a comment section online, web users range from the rational to the bizarrely enraged to the racist/sexist/horrifying. Not long after this Ask America initiative tanked, Lehmann’s job description was “overhauled” and he resigned.
Chelsea Kerwin, April 21, 2014

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at

Quote to Note: Search and Its Infancy

April 19, 2015

Navigate to “Moving Search Forward.” Here’s the Marissa Mayer quote which I highlighted:

We firmly believe that search is still in its infancy – and this partnership marks the next chapter in our exploration of how to make search truly great.

Like Penelope’s suitors, vendors are pretty convincing until Ulysses turns up. By the way, search has been a thing for more than 50 years, and I am getting tired of the “baby” metaphor. Search has plateaued, and it will take more than a former Googler’s rah rahs to make a difference.

Stephen E Arnold, April 19, 2015

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