The recent news about the Yahoo & Microsoft deal really brings into question what Yahoo brings to the table for the internet community anymore. Once a really cool, innovative company, Yahoo doesn’t seem to really be making moves towards continued significance in the future. Switching from “powered by Google” to “powered by Microsoft” just doesn’t look like a path that actually helps.
I remember using Yahoo as my search engine back in the day, as well as being in the whole Yahoo ecosystem (webmail, My Yahoo, Flickr, etc). Then came Google. And then came a deal with Google, and so disappeared any thoughts of using Yahoo as a backup to search. Slowly the founders of the startups they picked up started leaving to do more exciting things. My Yahoo all-in-one portal slowly has been replaced with services that are more relevant and offer me more. What was once a daily visit to get all my information was downgraded into perhaps a quarterly visit in order to make sure old contacts have an updated email address. My information stream is now powered by RSS, twitter, and other technolgies that make my life easier, by startups who continue to evolve with the Internet. Does anyone even have anything in their recent memory where they thought Yahoo released something innovative? Even if they have, Yahoo has become stale, and no one cares.
In the end, Microsoft offered something that fit Yahoo a bit better, thus buying marketshare as they really set up for the search fight. Yahoo missed the boat by rejecting the buyout talks with Microsoft and then doing nothing. After all the publicity and back and forth, they could have leveraged that plus some innovation to make people shout Yahoo once again, and break back out into the search market, or at least pick a path to relevance again. They still have marketshare, but the question remains as to how long that position lasts. The real question is what creative startups out there will take advantage of the situation to carve out a nice piece of the market and make people shout their name?