(so admittedly this is a rather rough post that came out of some comments i was writing up over on a TechCrunch post about the Jerry Yang intvw at D conf... thought i'd just them up here as well)
first, let me start by noting i think the Yahoo SearchMonkey initiative is generally a good direction to be heading towards. however, i also think there is a lack of executive cluefulness on tech strategy at Yahoo, as evidenced by the conversation with Kara @ D conf. maybe Jerry just hasn't had enough time to cleanup from Terry's previous "strategy", but regardless i think neither he nor Sue have succeeded in setting a clear direction forward that is game-changing enough to give board members / shareholders reasonable fiduciary leeway to let them continue [mis-]leading the company.
maybe it's time for others with more cogent strategy to step in & give it a shot.
in particular, there was a telling quote from Decker about what the "focus" of the business is (or lack of one, really) that i think reveals the heart of the matter...
Sue Decker, on Yahoo core biz focus:
"we focus on homepage, search, mail & mobile".
i guess Jerry & Sue would argue 4 priority areas isn't a lack of focus, but sure feels like that's at least 1 too many, if not 3 too many. and curiously there's no mention of a transactional focus area, which given all their traffic & content properties & brand familiarity seems like a big missed opportunity -- one that others like eBay, Amazon, & Apple are taking advantage of.
anyway, here's my take on those 4 areas...
1) HOMEPAGE aka "sell the shit out of [limited] premium web portal real estate". not really a great long-term business, imho. short-term monetization is good, but long-term control is limited & therefore not likely good strategic bet. the "home page" will fragment, become personalized, distributed. switching costs are low. Feeds & distributed news flow will be the model. not sure if Yahoo's display advertising biz also fits in this box, but if so that might also be significant... sounds like what Ballmer wants. still not sure it's most valuable asset long-term.
2) SEARCH: barely keeping significant #2 market share in search, but still pretty darn good monetization compared to the rest of their biz. on absolute basis, great biz to be in.. tons of cashflow, even their declining market share in overall growing market probably not bad biz. just sucks on a relative basis to look over at GOOG and think what could have been. good near- to medium-term asset, if they don't keep losing too much share to the GOOG.
3) MAIL: tons of usage, but crappy monetization. see my earlier posts for how to monetize the social graph data in the inbox. imho, this is one of the more interesting assets that currently hasn't been realized in revenue. YahooGroups fits in here as well, which is just a travesty that there hasn't been more attention in past few years. i have a friend there who may pull the bacon out of the fire, but it's a big task given how much they've squandered over past few years. long-term, this has significant potential, but only if they really use it for something that creates user / 3rd-party value.
4) MOBILE: i don't really understand this part of their biz. maybe some traction here outside US i'm not aware of. (i'll refrain from commentary here, since i'm clueless)
anyway, just feels like there could be more being done with using Y! Platform as distribution play to get to all their users. we'll see...