Yahoo CEO Downplays Search, AOL Deal
Over sixteen months after Microsoft’s first offer to Yahoo, many people in the tech world are still watching them, waiting with bated breath. Will they or won’t they? Although Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz has spent a lot of time lately downplaying the possibility, she stops short of saying there’s no possible deal with Microsoft in an interview with Fox Business (via paidContent) this week:
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Instead, she focuses on Yahoo’s strong properties that dominate their verticals—finance, sports, etc. She says that the social fragmentation of the has confused many users, and Yahoo is still a simple, centralized place for them to go for many different interest areas (not to mention email).
Meanwhile, back in the search business, Bartz is careful to stress that Yahoo is so much more than search. In fact, she goes so far as to say that Yahoo search is primarily designed to serve people who are already on their site, using it in other areas, who want to look something up. Their market share, solid at 20%, “meaningful” and they want to hold on to it—but, again, she stopped short of saying they want to grow their share.
The anchor points out that Bing beat Yahoo for one day (according to one stat service), to which Bartz replies:
I’m actually glad Bing was that strong. They didn’t beat us by much, it was one day, I think it’s gosh maybe it was in Omaha someplace, I think it was some small area. [The stats were global, however, they may not have been accurate.] I’m glad Google has competition.
One day is one day. It does not a trend make. But we don’t want anybody getting a toehold [in the market]. . . .
[Yahoo is more than just search.] We have a much bigger job than this narrow area.
She also goes on to put the nails in the coffin on the old rumors of a deal with AOL: “No, not any time in the forever future. . . . Yahoo is a much stronger property in a different direction. There is no sense confusing all that.”
As Danny Sullivan points out, all these protests that “we’re so much more than search,” are an obvious effort to downplay Yahoo’s failure to grow or win back significant share from Google. Meanwhile, they make Yahoo sound like it’s also not that interested in search in the first place.
What do you think? Is that what Yahoo really wants to say, or is this their “active compensatory feature”? (And if so, should they maybe take up drums? An awesome prize* goes to anyone who can name the movie I’m alluding to here!)
* Prizeiness and awesomeness of prize subject to subjectivity and available only where availability and legality permit.