A Lunch At Yahoo

Today I took a break from writing and drove down US 101 60 or so miles to Yahoo, a trip I've made at least a dozen times in the past few years. The ostensible reason for the visit was a casual, no agenda lunch with Yahoo communications chief Chris Castro…

yahoo.gifToday I took a break from writing and drove down US 101 60 or so miles to Yahoo, a trip I’ve made at least a dozen times in the past few years. The ostensible reason for the visit was a casual, no agenda lunch with Yahoo communications chief Chris Castro and Yahoo search chief Jeff Weiner. But it quickly turned into that wonderful digressive riffing which continues to make braving Bay area freeways a worthy endeavor.

I’ve found the folks at Yahoo to have an increasing appetite for new ideas, quite a switch from a few years ago when the company was hunkered down in protect mode, like much of the Valley. They want to grok RSS, blogs, mobile, desktop search – and beyond. Jeff is on fire about where his unit is going, and I have to admit the things he spoke of and showed me, much of which unfortunately I can’t report on yet, were pretty damn cool. Suffice to say Yahoo is continuing and strengthening its approach of driving search results based on intent of the user, and in particular discerning what the “task” is the user is attempting to do, then helping complete that task. Such a focused goal has pretty significant implications for where the company is going next, and how it will handle platforms in general (beyond the web) and commerce in particular. Its integrated approach requires a lot of threading of disparate data feeds into one grand unified experience, and I think after so many years of banging on this problem, Yahoo’s experience is starting to bear some fruit. One example is their recently debuted local search – which incorporates a platform approach that allows users to create reviews and such, another is their product search (which has cool narrowing features – doing that is not as easy as it looks), not to mention their shortcuts.

More to come when I can say more…

6 thoughts on “A Lunch At Yahoo”

  1. Interesting paper from the Yahoo! team (www2004 conference) – “Understanding User Goals in Web Search.”

    Key part of the research was to develop a system to understand not just how people search but why.

    I’ve posted the google result list below as the web’s decay has resulted in some navigation links no longer working (1st result)


    Enjoy all 🙂

  2. Yahoo! definitely seems to be in more of an innovation mode now. Yahoo! seems to be a little more adventurous too now with its search – having changed the UI and having added several new elements to their SERP including the “Also Try” section in recent times …

  3. John:

    Sounds cool. I do not understand why you “can’t say more”. Why would they call you over for a “casual lunch” – unless they wanted some publicity?

    Or maybe you under an NDA or something?

    Or maybe you just misunderstood them!


  4. After having had all of my auctions cancelled not once, but twice, for TOS violations, I am not impressed with Yahoo! Auctions. The first was when I listed an item, with picture, which violated a copyright. I can understand this being a problem for businesses who do not want their copyright infringed upon, but how is one to know which company allows you to use their name and picture (which in my case was supplied by a wholesale company; description word for word and picture) and which doesn’t? Tiffany doesn’t seem to mind and neither does Minolta, Avon, etc., but some do and how is a seller to know who is on the not allowed list if one is not provided? After contacting the complaining business and explaining I did not know I had violated their copyright as I used my wholsaler’s information (please feel free to use the description and pictures for your online auctions), they were kind enough to contact Yahoo! Auctions and my account was reactivated, however, the listing fees for the administrative cancelled auctions were not refunded. The second time was two days ago. All auctions were cancelled with no explanation other than a violation of the TOS. I emailed Yahoo! Auctions for an explanation and received a response advising me to read the TOS and Guidelines. After reading and reading some more, I still cannot find the violation. Another email to Yahoo! Auctions requesting specifics only to receive an email telling me that a violation had occurred, once again referring me to the TOS and Guidelines. Big help! It would seem that Yahoo! Auctions, at it’s descretion can zap your listings when a violation has occurred without explanation and keep your listing fees. I have contacted an attorney and have been informed that since they did not provide the service; listings were for a specific period of time for which a fee was paid, they are not allowed to keep the monies paid for which services were not rendered. I am sure I am not the only one who has had this experience and if I can find others who have lost monies to Yahoo! Auctions for administrative cancellations for whatever reason and not had their monies refunded, I will be contacting my lawyer about the possibility of filing a class action lawsuit. Oh, by the way, this email address is no longer valid. Not only does Yahoo! cancel auctions, it also closes your email and instant messenger accounts at the same time.

  5. Yahoo looks like they will move past Google in a lot of ways by developing individual portals like “Hot Jobs”.

    I like the way they are able to cross promote these individual portals from the main Yahoo Site.

    I think by promoting these channels they will be able to build great profit centers this way.

    The future of search will be M$’s with the change in the OS and browserless search of the web, hard drive, blogs, email plus attachments in addition to news sources.

    This will leave those who do not partner with M$ little market share or hope in the search business.

    Yahoo is a M$ partner, so I think they will be a default search provider within the M$ browserless search platform.

    Google is in trouble unless they change quickly, the data mining model will be less important as M$ builds privacy controls into the OS.

    This spells trouble for those who depend on page view data from toolbars, Yahoo knows this or they would not have introduced the “Yahoo anti Spyware Toolbar”

    I see M$ and Yahoo marketing into this great desire for online privacy that spyware and adware vendors have created.

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