Is Yahoo even worth trying to save?

Yahoo does not have the best technology, nor the best content. Yahoo does not have the best users, nor the most. Yahoo is close to irrelevant on mobile – the future of computing – and has flubbed every effort to be social.

Yahoo is the Detroit of web properties. Once big, once thriving, it helped create a future it can never be part of.

Nice take on Yahoo by Brian S Hall at Techpinions.

Ever since Marissa Mayer took over as CEO at Yahoo, every move they have made is getting levels of attention from the press otherwise reserved only for the reigning giants of the industry, such as Microsoft, Google, and Apple. Startup acquisitions, product relaunches, new products – heck, even a logo redesign – have all been discussed at length by technology media, and received as signs of the stirring of a comatose titan…but why?

Much of this might have to do with the misattribution of the causality of success, and laying all the blame of failure or success in the hands of one person. Horace Dediu of Asymco spoke about this on the 94th episode of the Critical Path podcast, entitled ‘The Limits of Executive Power’, which was recorded right after Steve Ballmer resigned/ was fired from Microsoft. Here’s a blog post by him on the same. Here’s the part of the article which I feel delivers the gist of the point relevant here:

[A company] is composed of people, processes and priorities. And nothing else. The CEO is but one person, admittedly one with a high degree of authority. However, that authority is not unlimited. A change of leadership in a company may have some impact on a larger set of people, at least in the short term, but the bulk of existing resources, institutionalized processes, and priorities set by customers and cash flows limit what any one person can do.

It seems that we now believe in Yahoo because we believe in Marissa Mayer – but can one executive in such a massive company even have such control over the entire organization? Steve Jobs after his historical return to power at Apple back in 1997 is the only one that comes to mind who, in recent times, has demonstrated the level of control that such a comeback would require.

Here’s another interesting tidbit from the Techpinions piece:

Yahoo’s present valuation is about $40 billion. Analysts estimate that Yahoo’s stake in Alibaba is worth about $36 billion, maybe more. Meaning, Yahoo as the world understands it is worth $4 billion.

Think of that. Yahoo mail, weather, finance…Flickr, Katie Couric, fantasy sports, David Pogue, display advertising…and every other Yahoo service and property – oh, and Tumblr – is worth no more than one SnapChat, and less than half a Dropbox.

In football terms, that pegs Yahoo at just under 30 Gareth Bales.


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