I knew it would happen. Someone would latch onto my story about Yahoo! Finance and extrapolate to the whole company. It's human nature.

Henry Blodget writes, among other things, the following:

Perhaps the enormous success the company achieved in its first five years has permanently infiltrated its DNA. Perhaps the first thing every Yahoo thinks when he or she wakes up every morning is "I am a Yahoo! I am rich, brilliant, and cool. Now, let's see where I'm having today's four-hour lunch." Perhaps what motivates Yahoos these days is dreams of more visits from such inspirational business leaders as Tom Cruise ("My manager told me that next year Terry's working on Tom Hanks!"). Perhaps the secret fantasy of many Yahoos is that, someday, they'll finally be cool enough to be invited to the Oscars.

It's so tempting to do that--to use my example as evidence for all of Yahoo being doomed. We all like to simplify and generalize.

But the reality is that there's a ton of cool stuff going on here. Many groups are kicking ass, releasing great products, and getting users excited. The stuff I rant about is what particularly bugs or excites me. It's a look into slices of what's going on around here, but it's hardly a representative sample.

Yahoo! Messenger now has voice calls with prices lower than Skype. Yahoo! Music Engine is still hard to beat if you're not of the iPod cult (sadly, I am). The new Yahoo! Mail still has a line of people waiting to get in, and it's not even done yet. There's a ton of great stuff coming out of the Search groups. In fact, you're going to hear more about it very, very soon. Heck, even the home page may get a new look.

I was just talking to Tom a few minutes ago about how hard it is for people outside a large organization to understand that there are many different realities in existence on the inside.

What motivates most Yahoos I know is trying to make cool stuff: products and services that their friends, family, and pretty much anyone wants to use. That doesn't mean it's always gonna be an easy ride. Most Yahoos weren't here five years ago, so I don't buy much of that DNA argument.

The day I start thinking we're doomed is the day I start looking for another job.

Posted by jzawodn at March 23, 2006 12:04 PM

Reader Comments
# John Q. Public said:

Heh, poor old pump&dump Blodgett. At least you gave him a diversion from his full time job of obsessing over GOOG tea leaves and chicken entrails.

on March 23, 2006 12:44 PM
# Hey There said:

The problem is that you're not the only one at Yahoo saying these things. Most of the people I know at Yahoo are looking for new jobs. They are beaten down. Sue Decker came out and said that you're happy to be number two. How do you think that made the employees at Overture feel. Do you think that made them more or less excited to be a part of Yahoo. That spread between #1 and #2 is getting wider. It's sure to get wider with every employee departure, every stock sale, every $500 bottle of wine, and every vacation home bought in the Hamptons.

on March 23, 2006 01:41 PM
# TDavid said:

You wrote: "The day I start thinking we're doomed is the day I start looking for another job."

Yahoo is a long way from doomed, but 2005 sure went a lot better than 2006 has gone so far. Can you argue with that, Jeremy?

on March 23, 2006 01:57 PM
# Andrei said:

I agree that Yahoo! produced many wonderful things like Yahoo music.
But why Yahoo did nothing in social networking? you have many really strong people in that area in Yahoo Research. You have strong software engineers, efficient search technologies. But nothing is done in social networking, how did Yahoo missed it? This market is taken by many new small start-ups, but not Yahoo

on March 23, 2006 02:08 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

AC: nice try. Would you care to guess how much unused vacation time I have?

Are you annoyed that I fly or that I write about it?

on March 23, 2006 02:42 PM
# Josh Bancroft said:

From one BigCorp blogger to another, I feel for ya. Sometimes I'm afraid to post what I'm thinking, not because of how the blogosphere will react, but for fear of being misunderstood by someone at Intel who doesn't "get it".

I'm not out to hurt the company I work for - I want it to kick ass, and see the stock price go up! But fear and paranoia just come with the territory, I guess.

I echo your sentiment - if I thought my company was doomed, I'd be out the door.

on March 23, 2006 02:42 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

TDavid: yeah, 2005 was a good year indeed.

on March 23, 2006 02:44 PM
# Steve said:

There’s no other way to describe Henry Blodget then a complete f$#king idiot. He’s the biggest money losing Wall Street analysis ever. His reckless behavior with other people’s money should have sent him to jail.

on March 23, 2006 02:45 PM
# TDavid said:

I actually like the flying sidetracks so I hope you keep them coming. It's cool seeing some pictures of different places and hearing of the cockpit stories. Don't think I'd ever go up in one of those things, it looks nausea inducing, but I enjoy reading about the flight stories. Sort of adds a nice, unique twist to this blog.

on March 23, 2006 02:46 PM
# Henry Blodget said:

I have to say I think it is both brave and smart of Yahoo! to allow Jeremy to blog negatively about the company (and brave of Jeremy to do it). I have to believe there is now a greater sense of urgency within Yahoo! Finance than there was yesterday, in part due to Google but also in part due to the public humiliation of being an embarrassment to fellow employees. If the "cost" of this "blog away" policy is a few pile-on blog postings like mine, then that's a cheap way to get people motivated.

on March 23, 2006 02:57 PM
# search-engines-web.com said:

Yahoo is Amazing in every way except for SEARCH

It is Extremely sad to see a once giant by a long shot decline in just a few years

And what is so strange is that at Yahoo's peak they were using the directory as the defaut SERPs

many searchers never got to the point of the Altavista-Google-Inktomi "add-on"

The "Web 2.0" resources are luxurious and practical - but the SERPs just can't compete with Google, and sadly are on a decline after the pinnacle last year

How could Yahoo allow itself this fall from Glory - a few years ago, it dwarfed the search competition in shares.

Has any effort been made to objectively analyze without EGOs --- what was done wrong, or NOT done during Googles ascension a few years ago??????????

on March 23, 2006 03:01 PM
# Dimitar Vesselinov said:

Philip Greenspun on flying and software engineering:

"Most computer programmers, including a fair number of my students, aren't that interested in a code review from an expert. They are satisfied with mediocrity, a warm cubicle, and a steady salary.

Pilots, on the other hand, want to be better. They understand that being better means staying alive, they recognize that they could do better, and they are eager for feedback and suggestions."

on March 23, 2006 04:11 PM
# Neal Lachman said:

The only comment I have to this post is, "no comment".

Yahoo! is a great place to do stuff. I have posted a comment on Henry's blog on Henry's post.

on March 23, 2006 05:17 PM
# Derek J Balling said:

Yahoo Messenger... let me see, is that the product which:

- Ignores the Mac community, but then every four years swears "No no, we've seen the light" and pretends like it's going to start caring again, releases a new version, looks SO promising, and then re-tasks the engineer elsewhere?

- Has a messenger service so clogged with spam that the instant I sign on, I get spam (which messenger has very very helpfully stored up for me... sigh) from about 50 people trying to sell me imitation brand-name sneakers or, best of all, other "choice" yahoo IDs?

- Keeps a server-side log of every single instant message any user ever sends to any other user, so the feds can subpoena them, all in the name of the children (or, more likely, so the chinese gov't can demand them, in the name of oppression).

... yeah, I'll pass on that example of "Yahoo Greatness", thanks.

on March 23, 2006 05:42 PM
# Mike said:

Even the world's coolest projects face hurdles from clueless managers.

on March 23, 2006 08:46 PM
# Sina said:

I can honestly say that I'm really impressed with some of things Yahoo are doing at the moment. Yahoo Music is a fantastic business idea, and I think the extensive media and entertainment coverage puts Yahoo a ways ahead of MSN and Google.

One project I particular enjoy is the MindSet search feature. It's not just a good idea, but an indication of some of the cutting-edge search algorithm research that's being done. The team of engineers working on Yahoo search really are incredibly well qualified. I might be wrong, but I really believe that the future of search lies in time-based graphs of the web. Algorithmically characterizing the web's topological evolution is a very interesting problem, and I look forward to seeing what the Yahoo engineers come up with...

on March 24, 2006 03:32 AM
# Sina said:

Just wanted to add, I think search-engines-web is being a bit shallow. I'm not a big fan of Yahoo search results as they stand, but I think they are really paying attention to this at the moment. They have "objectively analyzed" the situation and hired some of the best researchers to develop new ranking methods.

on March 24, 2006 03:36 AM
# Dan Isaacs said:

heh. like you would have to "look" for a new job. nice. :)

on March 24, 2006 07:11 AM
# Mahlon said:

I don't know everything that's happening internally, but as an outsider, it's pretty clear that Google's leading a new wave of innovation. Yahoo and Microsoft have allowed their core products to get stale while they milk their cash cows.

I'm thinking Yahoo maps and Mappoint vs. Google maps, Yahoo Mail and Hotmail vs. Gmail, Yahoo and MSN Messenger vs. Gmail Chat, Yahoo search vs. Google search, Overture vs. Adwords, and now Yahoo Finance and MSN Money vs. Google Finance.

I'm sure there's more cool stuff coming from Yahoo and Microsoft, but the focus and ethic at Google seems different.

Google's zen-like approach is to build and refine useful products and figure out how to monetize after there's a solid, differentiated product. Because Yahoo and Microsoft need a business case first, they're now both behind the innovation curve.

After all, if a product is making money, what's the business case for investing to replace it with something revolutionary?

on March 24, 2006 07:26 AM
# Jay Liew said:

Good morning yall!

I read this blog pretty regularly, and I don't know who Henry Blodget is.

Jeremy, I have to agree with you that it is only human nature. I say this from experience in real life work (and non-work) environment. In situations as such, I've learned that it works to my benefit to tune-out personal attacks and naysayers, and only pay attention to arguments based on facts.

A quote comes to mind, I don't remember who said it (or how it is phrased word for word), but it goes something like this: You can measure "the" size of a person by the little things that make him angry. Ergo, to be the "bigger" person, learn to /ignore the irrelevant.

I've learned that there is very little to gain, in arguing with naysayers. My time is worth more than that.

You think the world is flat? Well gee! GOOD FOR YOU!! (and I get on with my life)

on March 24, 2006 09:08 AM
# gaby de wilde said:

That was a revolutionary thing to say mahlon.

Lets add, working for google one would get fired for saying such evil things. Google doesn't do self criticism. They are more about being fantastic as yahoo.

You brought up a great topic. It's a bit disturbing to see salary's that size. It shows clearly how the money is entirely waisted. "maybe take the week off and buy my own jet?"

But in the opinion that is my own (thank you) A company working at email in 2006 is a dinosaur? When can I visit the yahoo space center? This is a very real technology? Are you going to sell me moving pixels again?

Where is my tricorder? my VISOR? my Interface suit? my Mobile holographic emitter? my Universal translator? we didn't even get the emergency beacon. :(


It's not talk it's tech that is cheap today. #_#

on March 24, 2006 09:09 AM
# Seyed Razavi said:

I can't remember the last time I used Yahoo for anything or the last product release Yahoo did that got me excited. Its not that Yahoo doesn't have a good product, its just I either find Google's offering hits the spot or I don't need the product category at all.

But... I can't help sense that Yahoo spent the late 90s with its head up its arse trying to be the next Time Warner or something.

It used to be cool, man, and then it became a slick corp media trendy crapfest. And thats an engineering term.

Face it Jeremy, Yahoo is just the Microsoft of the Internet age. Enjoy the money and suck the corporate teat of respectability.

Disclaimer: Some of the above may be nonsenense.

on March 24, 2006 09:26 AM
# OV said:

As an employee of (the former) Overture, I am disappointed that YSM does not get as much attention as rest of the company despite Overture being the best acquisition (financially) Yahoo has ever made.

Hell, why did Tom Cruise fly up there to speak at Sunnyvale instead of just getting on 5 North and dropping by Burbank? :)

on March 24, 2006 11:27 AM
# Bob Smith said:

I actually heard you were looking for a job at Google. True? Also, its pretty apparent Yahoo's overactive PR engine had you throw in positive mentions of the company. It's okay, even Scoble gets the smack-down. Too bad we can't have an honest Yahoo blogger...

on March 24, 2006 02:05 PM
# Jeremy L. Gaddis said:

Hey Jeremy,

I switched to YME and subscribed to the Unlimited service after reading "Goodbye iTunes, Hello Yahoo! Music Engine" many months ago. Can you pass along a feature request to the appropriate guys?

I'd like to request that the software be modified so that "synchronize device" actually does. I suppose that, in a way, it actually does, in that it does one-way synchronization. For example, everything in "My Music" is copied over to my MP3 player.

What would be nice is that if, whenever I *delete* files from "My Music", those same files would be deleted from my MP3 player. I don't transfer much in the way of music to my MP3 player, but I do use the podcasts plugin and subscribe to a great many of them. It's a huge PITA to have to delete them from "My Music" *and* delete them from my MP3 player. If I simply delete them from my MP3 player, they get copied back the next time I synchronize. I've actually gotten to the point where once a week or so, I just delete *everything* from my MP3 player, then fire up YME and let it all synchronize again.

Other than that, it's a great product and a great service and we're very satisfied with it!


on March 24, 2006 08:45 PM
# Joe Hunkins said:

I'm sorry to see Jeremy's bold stab taken too far out of it's intended context though this might generate great debate about a broader topic -- that Yahoo and Google are similar in many broad respects but not even same ballpark in total company valuation. 109 billion vs 45 billion. Why?

* Search quality roughly equivalent according to objective measures.

* Traffic similar (though not search traffic in which Y lags)

* Yahoo considered clear leader in Web 2.0 awareness

* MOST IMPORTANTLY, YPN is still in beta and will likely soon take a chunk of Google's online publisher revenue stream (about 40% of G total revenues) as will MSN's new publisher programs.

Wait ... No free lunches at Yahoo Cafeteria? THAT must be the problem!

on March 25, 2006 11:44 AM
# Another Ex-Yahoo! said:

Poor old Derek J. Balling! It must be a big burden to carry that drudge along in such a long sad lifetime. Learn it from me, man, and let it go. Enjoy your life at Vassar College, or wherever you will land.

Jeremy, good post! Though I don't agree with some of your posts, I respect and admire you very much. Keep up the good work at Yahoo!

on March 25, 2006 11:46 AM
# Joe Hunkins said:

>>> Too bad we can't have an honest Yahoo blogger.

That is total bullshit Bob! He comes out with a frank and gutsy post and you accuse him of dishonesty?

on March 25, 2006 11:56 AM
# David Jackson said:

Jeremy, your original post was honest and courageous. But this follow-up misses the point. From my perspective, as the editor of the Internet Stock Blog which looks at these issues from a stock market perspective and regularly covers YHOO stock, the issue is whether Yahoo's recent focus on monetizing its large audience went hand-in-hand with neglect of the end-user experience and complacency that led to lack of product innovation.

Note that all the examples you give in this post -- voice-enabled IM, music, web email, search -- are products in which Yahoo originally led and is now trying to catch up with more innovative competitors.

The issue is particularly accute because finance is so important and such a lucrative category that the kind of mismanagement you describe inevitably raises red flags about the overall management of Yahoo. There's just no escaping that.

on March 25, 2006 01:46 PM
# www.uusee.com said:

yes ,I agree with it .please say my web .and we can change our minds.

on March 25, 2006 05:08 PM
# C said:

search-engines-web.com: Yahoo! actually used Google for years, did you not know that? How can you have a domain about search and have so little knowledge. Yahoo! has essentially gave Google free eyeballs for years. Yahoo! did not have it's own search engine until a couple years ago. Give it time and will gain market share, not by stealing eyeballs from google, but by keeping the eyeballs within the yahoo! ecosystem.

on March 26, 2006 03:01 AM
# Joe Beaulaurier said:

Wow. Three links in one post. I'm very appreciative and happy to know we have readers of your caliber. Thanks!

on March 26, 2006 07:24 PM
# Eric said:

I didn't interpret is as "Yahoo being doomed", but I think it isn't isolated to Yahoo Finance. Yahoo is doing some very cool things and releasing new products - what you highlighted was the failure to maintain your older products.

Yahoo Finance is just one example. But today you also mentioned Yahoo Groups - this service desperately needs a re-vamp, are you really going to wait for Google to beat you to it again, and get their own Groups product to the point it surpasses yours?

What about Geocities, as the quintessential example? Yeah, static web pages are kind of old school - but people do still use them. Google Pages is a pretty slick application - offering 20x the storage. Right now Geocities is so poorly designed by today's standards that its a stain on the Yahoo brand. There's probably a half dozen other Yahoo services that fit the same description.

Yahoo used to appear very innovative - but these days it seems like Yahoo is either sitting on its laurels or playing catch up, at least from an outsider's perspective. When was the last time Yahoo was first to the market with any new or re-invented product? The biggest news coming out of Yahoo in the last year was the companies they bought rather than any products they released. And while those acquisitions do point to a promising future as a mecca-of-the-social-web MySpace killer, I don't actually see any of that over the horizon yet.

So I don't agree Yahoo is doomed in any sense of the word, but I think it's understandable where that perception might come from.

on March 28, 2006 06:55 AM
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone. My current, past, or previous employers are not responsible for what I write here, the comments left by others, or the photos I may share. If you have questions, please contact me. Also, I am not a journalist or reporter. Don't "pitch" me.


Privacy: I do not share or publish the email addresses or IP addresses of anyone posting a comment here without consent. However, I do reserve the right to remove comments that are spammy, off-topic, or otherwise unsuitable based on my comment policy. In a few cases, I may leave spammy comments but remove any URLs they contain.