First Zod, now Semel. Not that anyone's surprised. The miasma of strategic drift has been evident out by the Sunnyvale disposal plant for quite a while. So what now? Jerry Yang's post is as full of platitudes as the CEO of a struggling public is obliged to be these days. Leaving it to amateur pundits to contribute their own foresightful or lame recommendations. I'll stick these out in public and we'll see how they fare:
- Quit fighting the fight you've lost - search based advertising. As long as the market compares you to Google, you're going to look lame. Just say it: "We let 160 billion dollars of value get built on our back because we didn't understand the Internet." Get it over with, blame it on you-know-who. Now try to define yourselves a fight that you can be seen to win.
- Maybe that's building a grand alliance of destination sites, as I've speculated before. If so, get on with it. There are a lot of decent reasons that high traffic destinations may want more control over advertising than a Google-like system can provide. With a little innovation, you might able to harvest reader information there that could actually make the ads placed be interesting from time to time.
- Yahoo has always had a vibrant communities area, from e-mail to Groups, and managed to handle the Flickr acquisition well, in contrast to Google's botch of blogger. Too often obscured by other hoo-rah, both communications and community generated content are underworked assets. Repeat after me: It's community that keeps people present, not content. Perhaps buyers, and hence advertisers, will be more motivated when they are engaging with socially significant activities. Here's an old motto: Reinforce success, not defeat. Act accordingly.
- Use destination site alliances as an opportunity to triage and scrub your own content origination and packaging. Come on, where's the use in slapping a purple logo on yet another MSM story, and putting it up without any outbound links? If you're not adding value, get out, and cut your expenses. You've got a perfect opportunity to dump the last illusions that Silicon Valley knows how to run a studio system. Blame it on...
- The access provider alliances are going to die, along with the notion that the default home page drives the user value. We're out of noobs for all practical purposes, the valuable eyeballs can now find their own way around the Innernut. Remember, $160b of valuation says so. AT&T doesn't need you, and you don't need them. Unless you're going into the outsourced infrastructure biz bigtime, prepare to take the hit. Blame it on...
- Down in the bowels over there, you've got bright folks working on JSON and other goodly, RESTful stuff that enables mashups and occasionally lets one smell a whiff of platform through the miasma. And you've still got a huge audience that makes that foundation inherently valuable to partners. I don't know exactly how to monetize that, but why don't you let those folks out to play in a serious way? There's a lot of developers and users that might help you find the answer. And wouldn't you hate to have to explain to the shareholders how you let yet another startup build a mega-billion dollar market cap right on top one of your core values? I sure would.
Good luck, guys. I really do mean it.