In its coupling with Microsoft, Yahoo has sent itself down the road to insignificance. Not that it wasn’t going that way already, it’s just the downhill slope has become steeper. Yahoo is now merely a content site, and not a very good one at that.
If you think Yahoo was among the living dead before the search deal was announced, you might think Yahoo did OK. Microsoft-generated cash should fatten its bottom line, though its not the sort of money Yahoo boss Carol Bartz seemed to be holding out for.
(Here’s a video of our new happy couple–Carol Bartz and Steve Ballmer, announcing the deal).
Yahoo cofounder Jerry Yang now looks even more foolish than he did when he turned down Microsoft’s original buyout offer. This isn’t a better deal, except for Microsoft, which is saving billions.
As for missed opportunities, there is still a lot to be done in search, But, Yahoo won’t be doing it. A 10-year hook-up with Microsoft means there may be a whole lot of Binging goin’ on, but takes Yahoo out of the game as a real player. I’d secretly hoped Yahoo would get search right–which Google really hasn’t managed–and come roaring back.
There will be a post-Google search giant. It could, theoretically, be Microsoft. It might be a next-generation version of Google itself. It may be an up-and-comer, if the newbie can avoid being swallowed up. But, it won’t be Yahoo. There is too much left to be done for today’s Google to be where search stops.
Yahoo now begins life as a purple-hued clone of AOL. There is the chance Yahoo could do something radical, but that isn’t in its genes. I suspect there is an opening for more targeted portals, but it might not be a large one.
Yahoo had the chance to be a real leader in social networking, but is still paying catch-up in that space. It seems like there ought to be a way to make a portal and a social networking site work better together. But, I see the evil word “synergy” rearing its head and that is always enough to make me turn and walk away. Forced synergy never seems to work very well, in my experience.
I think there is a brief window for Yahoo to become an interesting company once again. There is no reason, based on recent experience, to believe Yahoo can pull it off. I mean, look at the new Yahoo homepage. There really isn’t a whole lot of there, there, is there?
I’d like to find some real hope for Yahoo being interesting again. But, I just can’t.
David Coursey tweets as @techinciter and can be contacted via his Web site.