Where does Yahoo! head next?

Yahoo!There's been much curiosity and speculation about what's been happening here at Yahoo! over the past few months. Roughly 100 days into our business review, I’m ready to start sharing some of the framework for where we see the future of Yahoo!.

After I last posted in July, we gathered senior leaders from across the company to develop a vision that we believe is truly different from that of the past. We conducted an intense review of our business, examining everything from our strategy and culture to our competitive position and how the marketplace is evolving. We knew we had to change not only our business, but also how we prioritize and make decisions. We had to shift from a siloed mentality to a more collaborative organization that marches toward a common horizon. We had to determine which businesses to invest in, and which to begin to exit or de-emphasize.

What we ultimately saw was massive untapped potential and the opportunity to achieve things few companies on the planet could accomplish. As audacious as that sounds, we believe it’s entirely within our reach with a lot of hard work and discipline, greater focus, tough decisions, a shift in culture, and faster execution. And what will drive us? Creating incredible experiences for our customers.

Based on our analysis, we’ve made important decisions. We defined a strategy that revolves around making Yahoo! indispensable to an ecosystem of consumers, advertisers, publishers and developers while tapping into three key differentiators: generating and leveraging insights, deploying open platforms, and becoming partner of choice. While these have long distinguished us, we intend to do more with them going forward. We will do so by measuring how much more “relevant” we can become for each member of our ecosystem. We believe centering around “relevance” will become a unifying focus for us and drive increased value in everything we do.

We’re placing our bets in three big multi-year objectives. Let me walk you through them, what they mean, and what kind of actions support them:

  1. Become the starting point for the most consumers: We’re defining “starting point” as being the sites that help you better manage your life and connect you to what matters most to you. Services like our Front Page, My Yahoo!, mail, search, and mobile all fulfill that role, while properties like news, sports, and finance (for example) serve as anchors from those starting points. We’ve made it our mission to provide kick-ass experiences in both of these categories to inspire the most consumers to begin their day with us. It’s critical for us to continue to invest and innovate in these offerings so that we can power and delight these consumers. Recent moves like the new Yahoo! Search, the new Yahoo! Mail, and our acquisitions of Zimbra and BuzzTracker should give you a sense of what we mean. And by tapping into our insights, we think we can significantly increase our relevance (why serve up World Series content to you on our front page when what you’re really interested in is Dancing with the Stars?).
  2. Become the must-buy for advertisers: What’s key here is our transformation from selling inventory on primarily the Yahoo! network to becoming an advertising company that delivers comprehensive, integrated, and targeted solutions on Yahoo! and beyond. Through our acquisitions of RightMedia and BlueLithium, we think we’re on track to becoming the industry’s leading open ad network. We’ll provide advertisers with the benefits of more insights, open competition, and scaleable tools and platforms. We think our momentum is building. Panama’s global rollout is nearly complete, our display business is showing signs of growth, we’ve signed on more great publishing partners, and we’re encouraged by the traction we’re seeing in our new strategy.
  3. Deliver open, industry-leading platforms that attract the most publishers and developers: We have phenomenal technology platforms and data infrastructure, and it’s time to share. Besides building on open API for critical platforms, we’re looking at many different ways to open Yahoo!. We’re excited about what could happen when a motivated community of publishers and developers starts plugging into our most popular services. Imagine how efficient your Yahoo! Finance experience could be with portfolios integrated from your brokerage. Or how personalized your Yahoo! homepage could be with a cool third-party widget. The possibilities are endless and “open” is all part of a new way of operating at Yahoo!.

Our new decision-making framework also informed what we’d no longer invest in. To start, we’ve de-emphasized our focus on subscription music in favor of ad-supported music, migrated Yahoo! Photos to Flickr, we intend to transition Yahoo! 360 to a more integrated Yahoo! “profile” experience, we’ve closed Yahoo! Podcasts and plan to shut down a number of one-off services, and we’re currently assessing our options for our Kelkoo comparison shopping service in Europe. We’ve identified still more areas and we’ll continue to work through them.

While our recent actions and initiatives provide the breadcrumb trail for Yahoo!’s future direction, you should now have a clearer sense of the new path we’ve charted. We’ve scripted our strategy, sharpened our organization, determined how we’ll prioritize, and zeroed in on our big bets. We’re in the midst of our transformation and seeing some initial progress. There’s hard work ahead, along with a large and growing market opportunity. If we execute as planned, I’m confident we’ll be creating substantial long-term value for our users, advertisers, publishers, and developers – and, of course, for our shareholders.

Jerry Yang
CEO and Chief Yahoo