Yahoo co-founder David Filo, who rarely gets in front of a conference crowd, chatted with John Battelle at the Web 2.0 Summit, aided by Bradley Horowitz, Yahoo vice president of product strategy. Filo is the product focused half of the founding duo. The other founder, Jerry Yang, focuses on the business issues.
You would think after 12 years in the saddle and with billions of dollars in their accounts, the motivation to keep at it would diminish for the founders, but Filo said that the opportunity that lies ahead keeps him motivated, as well as being part of the "revolution."
Battelle asked about Microsoft buying Yahoo. "Over 12 years of our history rumors come and go," he said. On further probing by Battelle, Filo added, "It's pretty safe to say nothing will be announced tomorrow."
Dave McClure, from the audience, asked why Yahoo hasn't acquired Six Apart's blogging tools or Facebook to gain some faster traction in blogging and social networking. Horowitz responded, "We put Yahoo 360 out there and learned a lot from it. 360 may be doing a 180, and change and adapt to address the opportunities." He didn't offer any specifics as to what the 180 degree turn looks like.
Filo added, "We are absolutely interested in blogging, and we hope five years from now to be a major player in that space. We will look at acquisitions."
Yahoo co-founder David Filo and strategy VP Bradley Horowitz
Horowitz dealt with the Google question, that Yahoo is slowing down as Google ascends. He admitted that Yahoo has not done a good job on the monetization side. On the other hand, products are growing (Flickr has grown 15x) and are being knit together.
Filo commented on Google, saying Yahoo has never had a shortage of competitors in its history. "The next MySpace or YouTube is just as much a threat as Google," Filo said. "It's more important to think about how we evolve as a company. One constant is we know things are going to change and the leader in search five years from now might be google us or some startup."
Battelle asked about how Google or Microsoft can outspend Yahoo for acquisitions and monetization deals. "Microsoft could outspend us on anything. It's not going to define our success or failure. In the environment we operate in, we have to build better products and services. We have looked at thousands of companies over years and generally we get the companies we want," Filo said.
On the new ad monetization engine, Horowitz said that there are a few hundred advertisers are on the system. "We are taking it slowly coming up on the Christmas season and want to make sure we get it right. We are cautious but plan to get advertisers converted over in Q4 and Q1 ."