free html hit counter Bartz: Yahoo Was "Never a Search Company". Me: Bullsh*t. - John Battelle's Search Blog

Bartz: Yahoo Was "Never a Search Company". Me: Bullsh*t.

By - August 07, 2009

Sorry, it’s late, and I just saw this piece in the NYT. But for Bartz to say that Yahoo was never a search company is simply not true.

Yahoo was the original search destination, and a place folks first learned to “search” for stuff on the Web. As the original directory of things worth paying attention on the Web, Yahoo was – and remains for many – the definitive place to start a search query. And also, in the history of Yahoo, let us not forget the entire homepage was redesigned around search just three years ago.

Feh.


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13 thoughts on “Bartz: Yahoo Was "Never a Search Company". Me: Bullsh*t.

  1. jr says:

    I believe what she meant to say was “at war with Eurasia”.

  2. Prefabrik says:

    Yahoo is a “high-tech” company, it was founded by two guys from Stanford in Silicon Valley. it WAS and WILL continue to be seen as a tech company first and foremost. It’s not a media company. I’m rather confused by the rush by tech companies to portray themselves as media companies, MS tried once a few years ago, Yahoo tried once a few years ago. Now Yahoo is trying again. What’s the problem here? Profit earned by MS or Google could bury the meager profit number from even the biggest media conglomerates. Why ditch your gold mine to chase a silver mine? There is really some attitude problem here. Perhaps all the nerds who populated the tech companies still feel intimidated by the flashy empty-minded crowd from the media companies who used to intimidate them in high school?

  3. DRS says:

    I’m not sure Yahoo knows what they are any more but hopefully Bartz can figure a path back to growth and leadership in tech. They may not be a search company today but before Google ate their lunch (and everyone else’s) they were the original Web Search in my mind. But that seems a century ago in internet time.

  4. Ron says:

    I guess this boils down to what the definition of “is” is. In the beginning Yahoo defined search using a directory structure to refine content for the user. On the flip side, if Google (and their simple UI) define search then Bart’s is right, Yahoo isn’t a search engine.

    Let’s face it, from a business perspective the advertising dollar will make or break Yahoo. And advertisers pay a premium for real time interested buyers of products and services.

    The ability to understand the spending habits of the human on the other side of the computer has always been the key to the successful leadership of any media or search company. Is this called search?

    Google stumbled upon the concept of advertising by accident, and they still don’t understand consumer behavior ten years later. Search is in it’s infancy stages and the future will usher in new UI technologies that will redefine consumer experience.

    Ms. Barts is taking a cerebral approach to solving Yahoo’s business problems – good for her!

  5. Me to Yahoo board of directors:

    Fire Carol Bartz.

    Signed:
    Jeremy Goodrich
    Former Employee & then contractor and now competitor to Yahoo Answers…who also happens to have the 2nd fastest growing social network (comScore, June 2009, based on May US data)…

    …seriously: if Carol doesn’t think Yahoo is a search company after the BILLIONS they wasted on search related tech and acquisitions and talent…

    she needs to be fired. Now.

  6. Tom Nocera says:

    Carol was hired with one goal to get a deal done with Microsoft. Now that the deed is done, I suppose she can try to frame or redefine Yahoo! anyway she pleases – for the time being she’s calling the shots – for better or worse. Glad to see you take a firm stand and call attention to bullshit from whatever source.

  7. Michael R says:

    Beyond being totally inaccurate it is deeply offensive to the thousands of Yahoo Search employees who work their ass off to create an incredible search experience with relatively limited investment dollars compared to the competition.

    Carol was clearly uninterested in search from the day she arrived – she has yet to even talk directly to the search group. You would think that the division generating >50% of your profits would be a group you want to talk to. Instead she sends her HR people to discuss retention packages. Not exactly the kind of leadership one would expect.

  8. I used to work for AOL and back in 1999/2000, a somewhat similar event happened: AOL stopped internal development of search and slipped in Google as the backend. (except in that case, Google paid upfront $ plus a revenue share). AOL’s executives figured that search was sellable asset, just like all other content areas on AOL, since they controlled the on-ramp to the web. Little did they know they were sowing the seeds of their brand’s collapse.

    It was a wrong move in many ways. One of the biggest was that internal AOL content teams paid ZERO attention to SEO. And the proof is now in the pudding. Most key AOL-branded sites are largely invisible on Google, meaning a slow death. Even AOL-owned MapQuest is dying a slow death after falling from #1 on Google SERPs for the word “maps”.

  9. jenkins says:

    She’s lying.

  10. Understanding as little about the company as she does, she has no business destroying its primary business model.

    But if the Microsoft-Yahoo! deal goes through, let’s hope Carl Icahn hangs on to his Yahoo! shares. He deserves to watch their value decline further.

    If he had kept his mouth shut in the first place and backed Jerry Yang, he wouldn’t have seen his share value go down.

  11. ajolie1 says:

    I’m starting to feel the same way about Bartz as I did about Semel: puke city.

    Now I am certain Yahoo has no hope of ever being a major definer of the Internet.

    RIP Yahoo.

  12. Kabin says:

    I still don’t get it: why announce a concession before announcing some progress? They are in full retreat mode first. Microsoft is advancing. Google is advancing. Facebook is advancing. Yahoo retreats. It doesn’t even retrench. It retreats.

    Where is the niche they will define? The market they will corner? Do they even understand why their sports section is popular? Could it be that their fantasy league user group is large, and they don’t have competition from MSFT and GOOG?

    I don’t think Ballmer will still be paying Yahoo in 10 years. I don’t think Yahoo will be here in 10 years. Every single quarter they make money from strange one-time results. Sale of Google stock. IPO of Yahoo Japan. Sale of this, fluctuation of that currency, etc. Their investments fail to pan out, their founders haven’t produced anything in years (they were never tech geniuses) and yet they’re still around, presumably bossing Bartz around.

    Look, Yahoo didn’t have the sense to buy Google when it was offered to them. They didn’t have the sense to sell to Microsoft. They are playing accounting games quarter after quarter. They don’t even have a reason for people to *not* use Google or Microsoft or Facebook or any other destination. Forget what that tells users or even potential employees, what does it tell advertisers? What demographic can they reach that cannot be reached with another site. Search ads are great: they can be very well targeted to particular demographics. Broadcast ads are far less targeted, far less timely, and thus have a lower cost and higher irritation. So, they will shed users, confuse advertisers, and then what?

    Bartz, thanks for captaining a sinking ship. At least this way Yang doesn’t have to be the fall-guy. Bartz will retire, a la Semel, and the employees and investors will be holding the dead weight.

  13. Greg says:

    I have mixed feelings about this. Clearly, search has been important to Yahoo, but what if we rephrase her comment to “Yahoo was never very good at search; it was never a core competence.” I can kind of buy that. Search was originally an after-thought to the directory. Yahoo was so bad at search that they outsourced to Google and then bought Inktomi. I don’t think Yahoo as a stand-alone would have been innovative enough to succeed in search, at least not to the extent they want to. So there’s something to be said for cutting bait.