I've seen numerous folks commenting on Om Malik's recent posting about Yahoo: How Yahoo Got Its Mojo Back. In it he credits several things (including me and Russell--thanks Om!) for a resurgence of interest and appreciation for what we've been doing these last months.

And what it also has a couple of guys, I like to call them blog evangelists, who knowingly or not, have brought the right kind of attention to the company. Russell Beattie who recently joined Yahoo has been blogging furiously (much to my annoyance) about Yahoo and its wireless efforts. In normal course of events, Yahoo would have issued a press release, and many of us would have paid little or no attention. Jeremy Zawodny is the other and has helped the company focus on some of the newer social media trends. I have never met him, but if his blog is anything to go by, then perhaps he is spreading the open media religion at Yahoo. The blog-evangelists unlike press relations folks, only write when there is something important to say. That is if they want to maintain their credibility.

(Mental Note: Meet Om in person one of these days... Buy him a drink!)

This makes me especially happy, because it tells me we're on the right track and that some of the stuff I set out to do is beginning to happen.

Last October I wrote the following about my job change (from "MySQL Geek" to "Search Evangelist"):

Instead of hacking away on software bits, I'm going to be working to:

  • make sure our products kick the necessary amount of ass
  • better communicate what we're thinking about and building
  • incorporate outside feedback and ideas into what we're doing
  • recruit more smart people

While I can hardly take credit for a lot of what we've done, I'm very glad to be involved in some capacity. In fact, I can think of at least one example for each of those four things that we've done in recent history.

  1. Kick-ass products: Our Image Search and Video Search products. Search for Creative Commons And Y!Q.
  2. Communicate: We do that regularly on the Yahoo Search blog. The Y!Q story is an example of that.
  3. Listen: The 360 preview last week--our guests did 80% of the talking. Comments that come in via the Search blog. We've implemented several requested features in our Search Web Services. And there's some other stuff that you'll see soon enough.
  4. Recruit: We got Russell. :-) And now the Flickr team. And we're working on many more, but I obviously can't talk about them. (Wanna be next? Mail me a resume--preferably your own.)

What's this all mean?

It means we're (back?) on the right track. And not only are we on that track, we're moving faster and faster on it. If you read the Threadwatch posting Yahoo's Efforts to Outshine Google, you might think that it's all about beating Google.

They're a big motivating factor. There's no argument about that. But it's really not what gets me up in the morning. To me, there's nothing more satisfying than hearing (or reading) other people talk about the great stuff they see us doing. When Joyce says "I'm seriously thinking of moving part of my blog, if not the whole thing, over to Yahoo 360" I think, "wow... we're on to something here."

When I run across blog postings that tell the story of how someone just discovered (or rediscovered) a Yahoo service, I can't help but to smile a bit--especially if it's one of our Search services. Scoble's A tale of search engine noise is a recent example. The same goes for SiliconBeat's CC Search story.

It means we're doing stuff that matters. It means people are beginning to notice. I'm not sure what happened in the last week, but the positive noise level about Yahoo on various sites I read has increased quite a bit. It's been trending up for months now, but it feels like there we've just seen a big spike.

And we've really noticed.

What's next?

Someone could just look at this and say, "Wow! You did it!" But this is not a short term exercise. This isn't about trying to drum up noise in the blog world in the hopes that some of it crosses over to the mainstream press.

Here's what I think...

What people have begun to notice are the early results of a more fundamental change going on at Yahoo. Some have described it as re-writing our corporate DNA. That happens in a number of ways and for a number of reasons, but fundamentally things are changing in a deeper way. New people. New ideas. New products. New markets and opportunities. New features.

So, back to the question of what's next... More of the same!

(Including some stuff you might not be expecting.)

Mmmmm... Mojo.

Posted by jzawodn at March 27, 2005 11:10 PM

Reader Comments
# Hanan Cohen said:

I have tried to switch, I really tried, but every time went back, and just because of one bug/feature.

The syntax of the advanced search is not displayed in the search box. I want to use the advnacd search screen, learn the Yahoo! search syntax, and not return there anymore.

Did you consider this?

Can you tell us if this feature will be available in the future?




on March 28, 2005 12:56 AM
# AustinPowers said:

here's a question: why is it a yahoo search blog? why not a yahoo blog? is yahoo search the most important product at yahoo? the other products don't have much happening? don't need a voice?

on March 28, 2005 02:00 AM
# Dossy said:

Mail me a resume--preferably your own.

Aww, but that's the best way to "fire your boss" -- send his/her resume out until they get a job offer they can't refuse, and leave. :-)

on March 28, 2005 05:51 AM
# Andres said:

You are doing a good job, no doubt about it, and even if I had allways admired Google, Yahoo! is recovering smartly from (which I consider) mistakes from the past. As you say this is not all about Google - Yahoo, but a search company, more than any other brand, needs a personality, and you are recovering it. Congratulations!

on March 28, 2005 07:03 AM
# Bubba said:

make sure our products kick the necessary amount of ass?

How about Firefox support as a good starting point...then again, I guess you have to be behind someone in order to kick them in the rump.

on March 28, 2005 08:28 AM
# AV said:

Yes, Jeremy you are doing a good job. Integrating RSS reading into my.yahoo.com has made yahoo my home base for browsing.

Now, if only you could convince the yahoo music folks to get it to work with Firefox. I have a special IE instance running just to hear music from launch!


on March 28, 2005 10:21 AM
# AV said:

Yes, Jeremy you are doing a good job. Integrating RSS reading into my.yahoo.com has made yahoo my home base for browsing.

Now, if only you could convince the yahoo music folks to get it to work with Firefox. I have a special IE instance running just to hear music from launch!


on March 28, 2005 10:21 AM
# Steve Romej said:

I, too, find myself using more Yahoo products lately. I had predicted Google would somehow grab Flickr; it was nice to see that go into Yahoo's court. The Yahoo Mail upgrades will also be nice, but the whole service would benefit from the Ajax approach.

...Just tried Yahoo Search for 'blur6ex' and actually discovered a few more sites that use my blog software. That's actually pretty cool, as Google seems to have missed these.

on March 28, 2005 11:38 AM
# James Day said:

Carolyn, don't use Yahoo groups. I personally avoid them because of the interface issues (interface meaning the whole package, including ads and such, not just the content part of the page).

If the groups are heavily into sharing information and building an information resource, you might consider a wiki instead. If not, alternative mail-based options are around.

Yahoo is doing good things but it's still easy to end up with a sub-optimal overall user experience.

You have 17,000 people. That's a lot of talent to search for and either find or build a better product. Use that talent. Then let Yahoo compete. That's the way market feedback works. The competition isn't only Google. It's also the people using the products, if the interface doesn't go in productive ways.

I recommend avoiding any product where you don't get complete control of the data of your group. That control is a key part to your ability to change hosting provider without losing any of your data. It's an in-built limitation of Yahoo Groups, in effect, though I assume not in intent, part of the old lock-in game AOL has been well known for playing with email as a retention tool. You don't have to play along with it - dodge it next time.

Try always to remember that you're not powerless in the face of the company hosting a service. If it doesn't listen, listen to yourselves and do what's necessary. There's no need to be victims and grumble when you can act instead.

For Yahoo and others, such changes are what develop into their next hot property, if they work well. Maybe some short term loss (though loss of unhappy customers isn't necessarily bad) but benefit overall.

on March 28, 2005 12:52 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


I, too, was surprised by the groups change. I'm not sure what to think about it at this point.

on March 28, 2005 03:57 PM
# Jay Fienberg said:

I'm a fan of the Yahoo services I use, and, over the last few years, it's been great to just keep getting better services/features without so much hype.

I thought Y!'s response to Gmail was a great example--Gmail was getting lots of hype for offering 1G, and had all kinds of "influencers" talking about it. But, Y! just upgraded the space allocation on its email accounts, made its email search better, etc.

I think that approach is a differentiator right now: Y! ain't the hippest-hyped thing, but it's consistently good and getting better across a lot of domains.

That's a quality that makes people want to use Y! services long term. And, that's one of the reasons why Russell and you are having an interesting effect--the stuff you write isn't competing with a load of hype coming from a million other sources.

btw, my current big wish from Y!: new Y! messenger for Mac with more features, and (long term) integrate with Jabber.

on March 28, 2005 04:55 PM
# TDavid said:

On a positive note I'm very excited about the new things Yahoo has been doing and I've been writing about it (mostly) positively on my blog. Jeremy, Russell and whoever else that has had an impact in getting the word out about these new Yahoo developments and making these things happen should definitely be commended.

My problem with Yahoo has been a history and execution thing; it goes back several years ago to when they decided to make pay-for-placement such a hot issue (and mandatory for many sites which were even a hint of commerically-oriented). That's only a minor bitch compared to the fact that their results weren't then and have only marginally improved since as being as relevant as Google.

Sure, there are examples of Yahoo being more relevant than Google and Jeremy has pointed them out in his blog a few times but on the whole, the vast majority of users use Google's search because it's just plain more useful, sorry.

If it's producing relevant results and not the almighty dollar that's important than Yahoo still has much work to do in this department regaining their cred from the pre pay-for-listing days.

I personally think Yahoo spends too much time and resources focusing on the portal-related minutia rather than the all important search relevance and this under-emphasis (in the past more than recently anyway) has hurt the focus and accuracy of its search results over time. But I do think things are improving in this area, so it's not all doom and gloom.

Still, I have to chuckle when I read statements on Yahoo like this: "More than 99% of web pages in the Yahoo! Search index are included for free through Yahoo!'s web crawl process."

Technically I'm sure the numbers show that this is accurate, but there are many, many good sites that fall into that exclusionary 1% because the webmaster of said site didn't pay some mandatory yearly listing fee or wine and dine the Yahoo spider.

This type of exclusionary listing criteria left unchanged won't likely ever help Yahoo improve because, hey, Google will list a good, useful, relevant site within days of it going live if the right people/sites link to it and ... there's not any need to pay for a submission. Never.

People who are searching don't care if a site paid a listing fee; they just want relevant, useful search results.

Pay for listing is a huge cash cow for Yahoo so it's not going away, but that was door that opened for Google to step right on through and past.

It's been catchup ever since.

on March 28, 2005 07:52 PM
# The Foundation Guy said:

Nothing like a bunch of VSIP Valley types caught up in a mutual stroke job...

The market and VC community don't have a lot of good places to throw cash, these days. Accordingly, your stock price (and Google's) have been going up.

I was at your location, last week. You guys are doing some good things - such as the Flickr acquisition (and others I won't discuss here).

However, in the words of an old robot, "Danger, Will Robinson"...

Please don't ever believe that it's because you're so "dialed-in"; that type of "manifest destiny" thinking has brought down better companies.

Last year, we bought 1m shares of Whole Foods Market.

As the VSIP crowd in the Valley swells, again (I can't say I miss the 250,000 thousand fewer people), I believe it's a better play.

I do wish you folks well, but, please, get a f***ing clue.

on March 29, 2005 05:54 AM
# James said:


I work at Yahoo! and would love to pass along your feedback to the Yahoo! Groups folks before you decide to move your group. Please contact me at backpackerjaime-zawodnyblog@yahoo.com

on March 29, 2005 07:38 AM
# Scott Johnson said:

I think that my semi-conscious personal feelings about Yahoo were that it was a busted dotcom company struggling to make in in the post-boom era. But more recently, I see it as a strong company that isn't really struggling too much and still has quite a bit to offer. And this blog and Russell's have certainly helped to change my mind about Yahoo. I still use Google for search and email, and that probably won't change for a long time. But Yahoo is certainly looking like a feasible alternative lately.

on March 29, 2005 09:04 AM
# Donny Lairson said:

I feel slighted by would be bloggers and enterpers alike these days at all the talk over what Yahoo is doing for search ang Blog intergration in 2005. Well we were doing this in 2003. Just released Version 2 of our software last week, which is a completely new style platform.

Frankly it scares me that Yahoo can sit back and wait and see what ideas are working or not and then claim them as their own when it see a positive effect.

We don't allow TV and radio stations, Cable companies to Gain 30% market share. Why would we allow a Search portal?

Site Pro news has a lot of insider power. Lots of web builders read the list. Including me of course.

So I have to put up the challenge of why keep honoring those who came second, but came with big power?

Frankly Blogging has been fairly Ugly software before now. We built Corporate Blogging from the start. We knew that Flash and Blogging would have to go to together. We build working with Yahoo right into the software, but not for the convience of current and future Yahoo users. Not to help them sell advertising on our words. We also built in the MyMSN link and a indepentant company CompleteRSS which works with Google.

I don't have a team of coders to crank out code at the rate that suits me but at this point I feel we are still ahead of Yahoo. I fear we will be over taken later this summer with the speed and resources available to them.

I think all we can do is keep doing what we are doing. Keep pushing Congress to pay more attention to Search engine's controlling what people see and when they see it.

Don't think for a second that the push into blogs doesn't have political implications. Bloggers brought down Dan Rather. Thats scares the old guard. Then we get a big push to intergrate the Big three into Blogging. Trust me this will become about Who's blog is being seen before its over.

For that I would like to put up a test for Jeremy. I will buy him a domain, give him a copy of our software. Let him try out for himself what we have to offer. Give us a month of hand holding to walk him through some of the stuff that is VERY different from what folks are used to. Like Multi-point navigation linking. Clean Url-virtual directory structuring. Built in search linking. Content-Site structure seperation.

The Software is free to everyone. But for him I will go the extra mile Buy him a brand new domain and he can take the test drive like a first time blogger would have to. No links pointing to your site helping you build market or none of that.

If he gets nothing else out of it he has a domain name to walk away with.

You have my email and I would be happy to contact you via phone. http://www.firebasesoftware.com/

on March 29, 2005 09:26 AM
# Donny Lairson said:

Just to add to that. Because I was looking at his notes on his main site. We offer a branded solution so that you can hand out to other bloggers. Making the Zawondny blog a download from your site.

Of course that is if you like it.

on March 29, 2005 09:44 AM
# Donny Lairson said:

We develop features and quickly. For the most part the features are free. Some modules like our Meta-Search that is paid module.. Frankly because it makes money for the blogger or blogging group. We can build features quickly because of the Multi-Anchor-point navigation system.

Searching and indexing large quanities of information is not as big of a challenge as 99% of the coders make it out to be. Its really a matter of reading the fine print on how to access DB's properly.

Our Keyword research tool Goes through 300,000 keywords and phrases in around .03 seconds looking for "partial matches" like search for "an" and it would find the word "and" Finding the number of occurances of that word was another issue one that we are addressing on the Storage side and not the search side which will increase our speed even further. We are partnered with all the "Second Tier" search engines with excecption of LookSmart.(They just haven't return my call, email, Smoke Signals....)

That's the kind of service I expect from Overture(And Get).
We have the orginal developer of Jayde who provides us with Crawled results via Exactseek(Although we turn them off most days because their XML tends to break they have a major upgrade in April coming that will increase their speed and db size by 600%)

on March 29, 2005 09:59 AM
# Garrett said:

Will Yahoo be making 360 open source and giving back to the community from which it benefits? That way, people could install 360 on their own servers.

on March 29, 2005 10:59 PM
# TwoFeathers said:

Even though all of the extras are cool toys It still boils down to how revelent my searches are. Neither MSN or Yahoo searches are still are up to par with google


on March 30, 2005 09:50 AM
# Mike said:

Both Yahoo's and MSN's search results are way more relevant than Google's. So much of Google's search results are SEO-spamming junk.

on March 30, 2005 12:47 PM
# Mitch Wright said:

Yahoo! acquiring Flickr was great, but I find it amusing that there are still Google AdSense ads on Flickr pages.

on March 30, 2005 02:43 PM
# BC said:

I recently read an article about how
Yahoo is competing with Google and the author of it touts how "Yahoo's Mojo" is helping them succeed.

Here is my response...
As the founder of one of the largest groups on Yahoo!Groups, I have to
tell you that YAHOO IS LOSING ITS MOJO, big time!

Yahoo gained mojo by attracting millions of members through the content-intensive Yahoo!Groups (which it bought from Egroups).

They are petering their mojo away with a new focus: Style-Not-Content!

Case in point: the surprise "New Look" of YahooGroups is AWFUL.
Foisted upon us, it simply replaces real content with white space.
They are burying the content down low on the pages and replacing it with ever more levels of distracting advertising.

Obviously, Yahoo has no use for Mojo anymore.

As Group owners, we bring bazillions of eyeballs to read Yahoo! ads, but they treat us like dirt. No support, no recourse.

What incentive do we have to build a future with Yahoo?

What stupid stunt will they pull on us next?

What kind of mojo is that?

Best Regards,
Founder of a 5000+ member Yahoo Group

on March 31, 2005 07:31 AM
# Mike said:

Nobody uses Yahoo Groups for anything serious.

on March 31, 2005 11:02 PM
# Sam needs a website evaluation pretty bad... said:

Pretty cool. Thanks for sharing

on March 4, 2008 05:55 PM
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