Category Archives: yahoo

Microsoft walks away from Yahoo! – now what?

As mentioned before I’ve been fascinated by the play by play evolution of the attempted takeover of Yahoo! by Microsoft. A few days ago I started having a feeling that the deal will not go through. Even when the rumors of a higher bid started surfacing I still didn’t believe the deal would happen. And today Microsoft announced that it withdraws its offer!

I think that’s good longer term for Yahoo! even though it will hurt the stock in the short term. It might have actually helped rallying the troops behind Yahoo! even though we lost a bunch of good employees. It’s now up to the leadership to send strong signals to the employees asap and get them fired up.

Steve Ballmer seems to be very nervous about the recent (partial) outsourcing of search monetization to Google and has included a few remarks on that topic. I’m surprised Valleywag didn’t point out that these bullets were directly addressed to regulators rather than Yahoo!.

It’ll be an interesting Monday. For sure.

New turn in the Microsoft/Yahoo! saga coming soon?

Microsoft’s attempt to purchase Yahoo! and the ensuing public moves and counter moves have been fascinating. It is a major milestone in the history of the Internet and witnessing it from within Yahoo! is very interesting.

The fact that all of this is happening in a very public way is indicative that the shareholders are an important piece of the puzzle. The tone and message sometimes remind me of two kids that are fighting.

We’re currently at the stage were Microsoft threatened to lower the bid and blamed Yahoo! for not even talking to them. Yahoo! denies this and says the offer is too low and that they are willing to talk.

And tomorrow Yahoo! will announce Q1 ’08 earnings. There are basically two possible outcomes:

  1. Results below expectations: Shareholders will get even more nervous and will push hard for accepting Microsoft’s bid. Microsoft can close the deal by increasing the bid slightly. This is preferable to lowering the bid which might have the same result but is more risky.
  2. Results in line or above expectations (with positive outlook): Shareholders are willing to give Yahoo! another chance and Microsoft will have to raise the bid and potentially go into a proxy-fight to push the acquisition through.

Given that Yahoo!’s senior management has been on a roadshow confirming the Q1 and 2008 forecast I would be surprised if earnings came in below expectations. This would totally ruin the management’s credibility.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s announcement and the after-hours market.  Microsoft’s next move will probably follow several days later. Valleywag determined the last possible date for a result in the case of a proxy fight to be mid-august.

Happy Birthday Gmail

April 1st marked the 4 year anniversary of the launch of Gmail. This was a life changing event for me as it is the main reason I’m with Yahoo! and still in the US.

The launch on April Fool’s Day was genius. It generated a ton of buzz especially after it became clear that the product actually exists. Back then Google was all about search which made an email product launch very unlikely. Some people were confused or didn’t believe the story for weeks.

I have a Gmail account but don’t really use it. I don’t think I have logged in for the last 4 weeks (I’m going to now though). I work for Yahoo! Mail and know that product inside-out, every key-shortcut, search modifier and also some hidden features . And I truly prefer it to Gmail from a user experience point-of-view.

Thanks Google for mixing up the email space!

MSFT/YHOO – How much is in it for me?

There are rumors that Microsoft will increase the bid for Yahoo! from $31 to $34. Which prompted me to calculate how much money I could make from this transaction based on the stock options that I own. Let’s assume for the sake of this example that the transaction closes by end of October 2008. There are 2 different scenarios:

  • No accelerated vesting of options
    All vested options are under water at $31 and $34. So no difference.
  • Accelerated vesting of options (100% when the deal closes)
    Some unvested options are actually in the money. The potential gain is almost 50% higher at $34 than at $31 and makes it into the low 5 figures.

The second scenario is dependent on the double trigger outlined in the change in control severance plan. It’s formulated loosely enough that I’m not holding my breath.

Note: ESPP, stock and RSU have been excluded from this calculation.

Flash/Flex not fit for Rich Internet Applications?

For any product or service, I’m trying to use the Yahoo! version rather than a competitors product given that I work for Yahoo!. This includes Search btw. I had given up on Yahoo! Maps a while ago as the interface seemed to be getting in my way on a regular basis. They just converted from Flash to Ajax and the experience is so much better! It loads really fast too.

This is huge for Yahoo! Maps and I expect to see an increase in engagement and even unique users. Count me in!

But it’s also a major blow to Adobe in the battle between Ajax and Flash/Flex for Rich Internet Applications (RIA). Are there any widely used web apps out there that are still built in Flash? I guess there is Yahoo! Finance (when are they switching?). Google Finance is using Flash only for their charts and I think the difference between the two shows in the feel of the apps.

Kudos to the team! Keep up the great work. Google is still a bit ahead with their superior version of drag-your-route.

Top 10 of 2006 – Yahoo! Ties Google

The ‘best of’ and ‘top 10 of’ 2006 are cropping up everywhere. And I like it! At least until I get tired of it. The Best of Copyblogger will become the reference for every aspiring blogger. And while reading I couldn’t resist keeping score (number of titles containing the given term):

  • Firefox: 2
  • Google: 2
  • Yahoo!: 2
  • Search: 1
  • Web 2.0: 1

Yahoo! ties Google and Firefox! And Ajax, YouTube and MySpace are nowhere to be found…

Why Google Wins With Answers Move

Yahoo! Answers is celebrating the shutdown of Google Answers claiming victory.

Personally I like the fact that Google is brave enough to make this move. Looks like they read (and understood) the Peanut butter manifesto;)

And while lots of blogs are asking which Google product should be killed next, no one is doing the same for Yahoo!.

Keeping a product alive even without active development ties up resources. Getting rid of unsuccessful products or products that are not in line with the strategy makes these resources available for other projects and products.

Yahoo! announced a reorg yesterday that will lead to the sun-setting of some products and the reassignment of resources. Which products is not clear yet or at least hasn’t been communicated.

The great Seth nails it:

Ignore people like me who scream and yell about how much they love it and how much potential there is. Just kill it. That’s what fashion companies do.

This also applies to changes made to products. I’m not saying ignore the user. But a certain percentage of users will always complain because they refuse change. The grant vision for a product can be too big for some users to understand. Yahoo! TV‘s relaunch received a ton of negative feedback from existing users. But what if the audience doubles in the next 6 months? Some existing users will move on while new users will like the new format. Were the changes still wrong? I trust the product team and am convinced that they’ve put a lot of thought into the changes. Let’s check the user numbers again in a few months and see who was right…

Update 28/12/06: Greg Linden agrees:

Old products never die, but they should. To innovate, it is not enough to love creation. We must also love destruction.

Cell Phones Going Mobile

I’ve seen a trend here in the U.S. (a slow evolution, can’t tell when it started): More and more people start calling ‘cell phones’ ‘mobile phones’. Is this the States catching up with the rest of the world? ;) Or is this limited to the Silicon Valley?

In related news: I accessed Yahoo! Mail on my RAZR for the first time (actually twice this weekend). I was stuck somewhere and had to look up some information. Useful although a little slow (I was using the browser). We still have a long way to go with the mobile phones. I know that mobile applications are going to be big (ask the kids) but don’t quite get it yet myself…

It is still early days for mobile applications. And the market is very complicated with the variety of phones and providers. I hope Yahoo! keeps investing in this field even if the returns are small right now. It will be really hard to enter the market later.

Search Keyboard Shortcut – Ctrl+k or Ctrl+e

To focus the search field in the browser chrome:

  • hit Ctrl+k in Firefox 2.0
  • hit Ctrl+e in IE7

I love consistency ;) . See also my gripes about tab switching.

Btw, the Yahoo! live search in Firefox is pretty cool. I don’t think there is a shortcut to focus the search box in the Yahoo! toolbar.

The always useful F6 is another great one to know. And try F11 is you don’t know that one. And obviously Alt+left arrow (who needs backspace!?!) and Alt+right arrow.

IE7 is Here – Yahoo! Branded Version Installed

Microsoft has released IE7 and pushes it out via Windows Update – a bold move. Yahoo! has released a branded (optimized) version of IE7 which I installed.

During the installation I realized that I didn’t set a system restore point. There is no cancel button once the installation is running. And Windows Update was installing at the same time. Luckily everything went well and I’m back online after a restart.

IE7 comes with tabs but I can’t figure out the keyboard shortcut to go to the next/previous tab (Ctrl+Page Up/Down in Firefox). At least Ctrl+t and Ctrl+w are working. The menu bar is hidden by default (Yahoo! version only?) which gives you more screen real estate.

The upgrade process requires a verification of the Windows license. This might lead to IE6 sticking around on more computers than most webdevs hope for.

I will probably continue using IE 7 and Firefox 2.0 on a daily basis.

Also see Firefox 2.0 rc 3

Zoë Email Application

I’ve been playing around with Zoë while exploring alternative email applications a while ago. I never really got into it even though the concept is really interesting. Last time I used it is 1 year ago!

In the meantime I have given up on installed email applications. I don’t like to be limited to one computer. I want access to all my email anytime and anywhere. The new Yahoo! Mail comes pretty close to desktop experience while not inheriting its limitations. But I’m biased…

I wonder if anyone picks up the Yahoo! Mail web service and implements a Zoë clone with it… Is anyone actively using Zoë? I think it’s time to uninstall for me…

I’m so glad you made this mistake.

Larry Page said [via Google Blogoscoped]:

“I’m so glad you made this mistake. Because I want to run a company where we are moving too quickly and doing too much, not being too cautious and doing too little. If we don’t have any of these mistakes, we’re just not taking enough risk.”

Terry Semel and Yahoo! are also encouraging risk taking. Can’t immediately find a good quote online.

What does it take for employees to act accordingly?