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.
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.
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