Yahoo says it's no longer a digital media company

Yahoo says it's no longer a digital media company

Summary: Yahoo is trying to get its mojo back, and that means rebranding itself as a "technology company". But is it?

TOPICS: Tech Industry

Colleen Taylor at Techcrunch has reported that Yahoo has changed the way it describes itself in its latest 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Yahoo is now labeling itself first and foremost as a "global technology company" in the place where it used to call itself a "digital media company".

She writes that it's a small change but symbolic.

A far better description of Yahoo would be as a "technology media company". It uses sophisticated media technologies to publish digital content and advertising. What's not "media company" about that?

Technology companies develop and sell technologies, such as databases (Oracle), microprocessors (Intel), and software as a service ( What technology can you buy from Yahoo?

Google is a media company and so are AOL, Facebook, Twitter, and hundreds of Silicon Valley companies, too.

Is Yahoo's change of description wrong timing yet again?

Yahoo realized it was a media company a long time ago, hiring Terry Semel as CEO in 2001, a 24-year veteran media executive, chairman and co-CEO of Time Warner.

However, it was a big mistake, because it was too early to think of itself as a media company and it led to Yahoo falling behind in the development of key media technologies such as search.

And it gave away its media technologies for very little money such as licensing its pay-per-click IP to Google, without which it wouldn't have had such a lucrative business.

A wolf in sheep's clothing

Google is a media company, but it prefers to be described as a tech company because it partners with traditional media companies.

In the mid 2000s, it struck deals with The New York Times and other large publishers to manage their online advertising. The front page was full of Google delivered ads, often with a link, "If you'd like to advertise on this site click here" taking you straight to Google. The NY Times had handed over its advertising customer relations to Google — a rival media company!

If The New York Times considered Google to be a media company at the time, which it was, it would have approached such a partnership with a lot more caution.

These days, the NY Times Company [$NYT] and all newspaper publishers see Google [$GOOG] as a media company and a rival.

Even Eric Schmidt, chairman and former CEO, often refers to Google as a media company.

Silicon Valley is a "media valley"

It's a giant virtual Gutenberg machine made up of powerful media technologies that have replaced the innovation of movable type with that of programmable type — the extraordinary ability to publish pages of complex content on the fly and change them in real-time — across a massive distribution network that has enabled the end points to publish back.

It's now a two-way internet, a two-way media internet. Now it gets really interesting.

Topic: Tech Industry

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • YUI

    Yahoo has one of the best JavaScript libraries out there... Only jquery is more useful.
  • I see this whole "media" thing as a sideshow.

    "It uses sophisticated media technologies to publish digital content and advertising. What's not 'media company' about that?"

    Back in its heyday, Yahoo was a portal, email client, web host, etc. All of that stuff associated with the '90s.

    This whole "media" thing (truthfully, I'd rather just call it "advertising") IMO is a side show. As an internet company, they kinda need it to be profitable. But I don't really think it makes a good core product.

    "Google is a media company and so is AOL, Facebook, Twitter, and hundreds of Silicon Valley companies, too."

    Basically amplifies my point - being a "media company" is more a necessary evil rather than a core product. It's one of the few ways to offer what *is* the core product to customers for free.

    Making it *into* the core product is IMO a mistake.
  • Yahoo! is as much a technology company... Google is. In other words, it isn't. It's an advertising company that uses technology to collect users' data. Ms. Mayer is trying her best to turn Yahoo! into Google II.
  • Unfortunately, they sold their soul to MS

    And are dependent on Bing...

    Until they rebuild their search capability, they won't amount to much.

    Given enough time - She could be successful. She knows how Google works, so trying to build that type of organization can do it - but it takes time.
    • Or fortunately?

      Who knows what shape they would be in today had they not struck said deal?
      John Zern
      • said "deal" destroyed their technology base.

        That is what was wrong with it.

        Yes, they were in trouble. But that was due to not investing more in the technology when they had money.

        Can they rebuild now? They will be shackled by that "deal" as it prevents them from competing with anything MS does, or decides to do in the future. So if they invest and develop something close to production, and MS chooses to do the same then MS takes over and shuts out Yahoo.
  • Semantics

    Isn't that just semantics? The key point is that Yahoo got to rebrand and transform itself. This is just stating most people know: essentially Yahoo and Google are technology companies. I would tend to say media companies actually produce content.

    While Google does produce some content, its search technology underlies all the content it produces. This would tend to make it a technology company.

    Well, I just hope that Yahoo is successful whether a technology company or media company. Internet without Yahoo will not be the same