peanut butter Over the weekend someone sent me email that, among other things, said roughly: "Iím glad to see that APIs weren't on the list of things Brad Garlinghouse wants to get rid of. That means you're safe, right?"

I thought about that for a few seconds and the replied with something like this:

If part of Yahoo's problem is that it tries to be everything to everyone (and it is), then APIs are part of the solution. By offering up web services that encapsulate the core things we're really good at, we'd be able to stop trying to be everything to everyone. Why? Because others would have the raw materials needed to come in and fill the gaps (or the "long tail", if you prefer). We'd be part of the solution without necessarily having to do all the work.

That's how I see it.

Now, if you're one of the people who's asked me what I think about all this... here's my answer: Brad is very right about some things and terribly wrong about others.

Posted by jzawodn at November 20, 2006 11:42 AM

Reader Comments
# Ken Norton said:

"Brad is very right about some things and terribly wrong about others."

One thing he's wrong about is peanut butter itself - it's delicious. Who doesn't like peanut butter?

on November 20, 2006 12:17 PM
# Dan Isaacs said:

Peanut allergies are fairly common. If you have a child, he has a friend who's parents obbsesivley read product labels.

Z, care to elaborate in public on the things he got right? :)

on November 20, 2006 01:49 PM
# Joe Zawodny said:

The thing that makes me nervous as a Yahoo! investor is all of the apparent redundancy in services. Would you care to offer your two-cents on why this is (or not) a good thing?

on November 20, 2006 01:56 PM
# NVS said:

If u point one finger on others, all the other fingers point at you.

Yahoo is faltering undoubtedly on the community featuries mainly because the community products are not embracing the web2.0 techs and the latest aquisitions with right intensity and in-time.

Frankly how many are using the dull and pale MyYahoo. Its time to re-define MYYahoo. How many are using the 360's. How many are using VOIP of Messenger and why does it takes ages to get the calendering right.
Why can not mail be lightening fast keeping the same scale and volume.
Brad has to ask the questions himself and take it from there.

on November 20, 2006 03:03 PM
# Dave McClure said:

i'm sure brad's right about a few things, but i think if Yahoo could just monetize better a lot of problems would go away.

(but corporate politics isn't likely to be one of them ;)

on November 20, 2006 03:51 PM
# Michelle said:

I have to agree with NVS. When I was at Yahoo, it constantly bothered me that so many properties/products were good in their heyday, used by people now, but still haven't been updated in years. Calendar and My Yahoo are at the top of my list for that. It's all well and good to say "it's coming", but you can only say something is coming for so long before people get tired and move on.

The company is pushing away their loyal user base without attracting new people.

How many social bookmarking tools does the company have now?

on November 20, 2006 04:06 PM
# Wally Punsapy said:

Yahoo! should start with a Web 2.0 mashup of that peanut butter and jelly:

- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dfLNa5mqQ0

I agree with you: some good, some bad.

on November 20, 2006 05:31 PM
# Michael said:

"Brad is very right about some things and terribly wrong about others."

It's funny that you say that, especially when Garlinghouse complained about employees "phoning it in" because that's what your comment seems like. That's such a weak statement. What's he getting right? What's he getting wrong? What would you do instead?

Love or hate what Garlinghouse said, at least he had the courage to say something bold. It seems like he wants everyone else in Yahoo to have the same kind of courage.

on November 20, 2006 06:17 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Michael:

I don't claim to be qualified to know what I'd do in his or Terry's shoes. From what I can tell, managing a large group of peopole at a big company is no fun.

He's right about the slowness, matrix hell, lack of ownership and accoutability, and so on. The whole executive team seems to know that. Terry has spoken aobut it internally.

I have no idea what they're doing to fix it. But I hope we'll see results soon.

Brad is wrong about some of the apparent redundancies. Flickr and Photos serve almost entirely different audiences. And both are wildly successful. Pointing at them as an example of "what not to do" is just stupid in my book. I'd wager that less than 0.5% of Yahoo users are "confused" about Flickr vs. Yahoo! Photos.

Really.

Jeremy

on November 20, 2006 07:10 PM
# Jackson said:

So, to continue the analogy, you are saying Yahoo should just grow peanuts. that way some companies can make peanut butter, others can sell roasted peanuts, and some can mash them up in Snickers bars. So then does Yahoo start charging for the APIs? It is hard to sell advertising on an API.

On a related (and corny note), Flickr should be renamed to 'peanut gallery'.

on November 20, 2006 07:31 PM
# Jon said:

Well, one redundancy that I am confused about is the whole My Web, Bookmarks, delicious thing. I'm a light user of these services... just a handy way to tag sites that I might want to search later. But I have no idea which is doing what. What is the difference between http://myweb.yahoo.com and http://beta.bookmarks.yahoo.com/? Should I be using delicious more?

And I think the Flickr vs Photos issue does run deeper than you let on. Answer this question... I just took some great pictures on a trip, and I want to share them with my friends. What service should I use? You say that they serve different audiences, but I don't know which audience I'm in, because I have some stuff on Flickr and some at Photos. At this point, it just seems like I'd end up using the one that I come across first. That doesn't seem like a good thing.

on November 20, 2006 07:51 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

If I didn't work at Yahoo, I'd be worried about that one too. Luckily, I happen to know that the redundancy won't exist forever. Sadly, that's all I can say about it right now.

on November 20, 2006 08:11 PM
# Michael said:

Thanks for the response Jeremy. It's interesting to hear your opinions on the problems. Despite his position, Garlinghouse didn't really offer much in the way of solutions to the problems either, other than generalities like "decentralize" and "lay people off." You might find it interesting to read the response from an infamous employee of an even bigger company with arguably bigger problems: http://minimsft.blogspot.com/2006/11/peanut-butter-manifesto-for-microsoft.html.

As for redundancies, I think you have a point about there not really being redundancies, but there are definitely *apparent* redundancies. Again, whether they are real or not can be debated, but there is certainly a perception. Personally I used Photos before I discovered Flickr, and I was thrilled when Yahoo acquired Flickr. Similarly, I had just start using Y360 when I discovered delicious, and was encouraged by that acquisition as well. In both cases I had already stopped using the old Yahoo product even before Yahoo acquired the new ones. So maybe you are right that there is no real confusion for users. I'm also a Picasa user, but my use of Flickr made me completely ignore Google's new web photos feature. Similarly, delicious caused me to have no interest in Google's bookmarks feature. So even if there was some confusion caused by the products, they certainly provided value in Yahoo's competition with Google.

on November 20, 2006 09:32 PM
# John said:

How do you define success? You state that: "Flickr and Photos serve almost entirely different audiences. And both are wildly successful." Flickr is profitable. Photos has a lot of users, but it is not profitable. If Photos was doing so great, why is the whole product being moved to Yahoo! Bangalore...

Brad *is* right about some things, but he is part of the problem, not part of the solution. He is the Michael Scott of Yahoo! (NBC's The Office).

"You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time." - Abraham Lincoln

Brad's time is running out...

on November 20, 2006 11:52 PM
# Yumio said:

Hey Jeremy,
Remember me? Its Yumio. Its nice to see that the frustrations that led me to leave Yahoo! a month ago is now fodder on Valleywag and the Journal. My hunch though is that the PBM (Peanut Butter Manifesto) (we're using acronyms, right? this is Y! afterall) will be something that will be intensely talked about for 3 months tops, and then gradually forgotten. That was the case with all the other mgmt fads that we went thru the last 2 years I was there. Just don't merge Y!Answers with Groups. Please.

Yumio

on November 21, 2006 06:30 AM
# ashkan karbasfrooshan said:

As someone who used - and then dumped your API - you might be interested in this:

http://www.watchmojo.com/web/blog/?p=864

Cheers, please do not take this personal, I actually own stock, but this small example shows how once again, your attempt at beating Google in search fail when it could have won.

on November 21, 2006 09:17 AM
# Travis said:

As I read the memo, this thought kept jumping out at me:

The Memo: "decentralize"!

Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Decentralization generally involves intentional redundancy. Having Photos and Flickr is a decentralized approach. Having multiple silos is decentralized. Having just one photo-service is centralized. Eliminating redundancy means having one-centralized place to have that something. He says "decentralize" more than once, but he otherwise appears to mean just the opposite.

on November 21, 2006 09:40 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.