In yet another mystifying move, Yahoo’s board fired Carol Bartz and ended her three year tenure as CEO. Over the last three years, Bartz has had to clean up after the less than stellar leadership of both Jerry Yang and Terry Semel led to revenue slowdowns, management bloat, product missteps, and who knows what else.
While I’m saddened to see Bartz go, I’m more aggravated by the ridiculous articles and blogs regarding Yahoo’s past, present, and future. Note to the mainstream press…Yahoo IS NOT Google. Yahoo is NOT Facebook.
Yahoo IS an Internet icon, a portal destination, an information and communications hub, and is chalk full of popular services and offerings. Often seen as less innovative than Google, Yahoo has made meaningful contributions to Hadoop and has recently open sourced Traffic Server which was acquired as part of the Inktomi acquisition.
I see two paths for Yahoo; Baidu and Apple.
Baidu has grown into a formidable challenger to Google. For Baidu to take the next step they must enter the Western marketplace and Yahoo would be the perfect vehicle to make this a reality. A cash and talent infusion by Baidu would reinvigorate Yahoo giving it new life to innovate and disrupt its way to revenue growth. It would also mean an end to Yahoo’s partnership with Microsoft (or would it) as well as new competitive efforts across traditional and mobile solutions.
Apple is a dominant force within the mobile/tablet community and Yahoo would make the perfect destination for their users. With one brush of the pen, Yahoo would be folded under the Apple brand and would change the perception of Yahoo from old/dying to new/exciting. Apple could use Yahoo as a platform for iCloud services and revamp Yahoo’s offerings to work seamlessly within iOS and OSX. Additionally, Apple could use Yahoo to offer new and innovative Cloud services and accelerate the adoption of HTML5.
In the end, Bartz will come-up a winner in this mess as her honesty and toughness is refreshing. However, the future for Yahoo may be bright as long as the Board realizes it’s time to turn the reigns over and sell the company. Let’s hope they don’t turn down an offer like they had from Microsoft again and Yahoo finds a new home!