YFace: Yahoo's missing piece

YFace: Yahoo's missing piece

Summary: In the past few days, Yahoo has shuffled the management deck and added Rivals.com to its portfolio.

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In the past few days, Yahoo has shuffled the management deck and added Rivals.com to its portfolio. In addition, rumors of a deal with News Corp. and MySpace to fill Yahoo's glaring social networking hole circulate.

Things have changed yet remain mostly the same. Chief Yahoo Jerry Yang takes on the role of CEO from Terry Semel. Company employees need a morale booster and Yang can help deliver on that front, but the co-founder and board member has also been involved in formulating and executing on the company strategy over the past dozen years. This is from his bio on the Yahoo site:

His focus at Yahoo! over the years has included corporate strategy, Yahoo!'s technology vision, strategic business partnerships and international joint ventures, and recruiting key talent. In addition to serving on the Yahoo! Board of Directors...

What is Yang going to do differently to dampen Google's momentum in search/ads, applications and other areas? Yahoo's strongest asset is its large audience, more than half a billion users worldwide. Much of the usage is via services like email, instant messaging and MyYahoo, as well as various applications like Flickr, News, Groups and Answers.

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But Yahoo is missing a critical piece. The company mission statement is as follows:

Yahoo!'s Mission is to connect people to their passions, their communities, and the world's knowledge.

Yahoo is about making connections, but right now its more of loose federation of Web applications and services--many spokes without a strong hub to hold together a social Web. Yahoo 360 has been a failure as a social network. There is no 'YFace.'

MySpace and Facebook are the big, emerging hubs, and the constant discussion about Yahoo buying Facebook and now the possible MySpace hookup, the lack of a social networking hub is more than apparent. While MySpace is by far the largest, Facebook is a better fit in terms of a broader demographic, its platform strategy and the user experience. But, it appears that Facebook is going through with an IPO unless someone makes a super rich offer they cannot possibly refuse.

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Perhaps Yang can figure out a way to build a hub for Yahoo. It will be a key to his success or failure at harnessing Yahoo's assets for its second decade.

See also: GigaOm: Who should buy Yahoo? Handicapping 5 likely suitors

Steve O'Hear: Facebook and MySpace are like chalk ‘n’ cheese

Topic: Social Enterprise

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  • I could see it working out well

    I don't know if Facebook's demographic is actually any broader than MySpace's demographic though - it's simply a different demographic (many of them being the same types who read and write this blog.) I think the reality of the audience of Facebook and a lot of other Web 2.0 companies is often skewed by the tech community since that's what WE'RE into. I still know FAR more people who use MySpace instead of Facebook. Kind of like I know at least 20x as many people who use AIM or Y!Messenger instead of Gtalk.

    Yahoo has some great sub-properties, but you're right about the main problem - they don't have a central community. Bringing MySpace into the fold could be a great way to fill that void. The tricky part would be integrating MySpace with existing Yahoo communities. Remember all the whining when 'old skool' Flickr users had to switch to Yahoo logins? Notice that Google (ordinarily quick to slap the Google name in front of their acquisitions) hasn't done the same with the massive YouTube community yet?
    RustyShackleford
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    pvhastings
  • API war: right on target

    really excellent piece dan.

    not just Yahoo that's whiffing on this one tho... ditto for both Google & Microsoft as well.

    amazing to me how all 3 companies have done such a crappy job on building an overall web-based user experience. Google is doing modestly well effectively buying Office 2.0 apps & stitching them into their fabric, but still doesn't feel like they've figured it out.

    Facebook not only leapfrogged MySpace & Yahoo, they've pretty much leapfrogged Google & Microsoft as well.

    - dave mcclure
    davemc500hats