Jerry Yang

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I would not be surprised to see Yahoo sold to Jerry Yang and the Texas Pacific Group (TPG) fairly quickly. Yahoo, with lots of schmutz on its shoes, is still one of the top 5 tech brands in the world. And what is a brand but a vessel into which we poor meaning. Organized meaning. Yahoo’s fix requires an Is-Does. What a brand Is and what a brand Does.

Is it a portal?
Is it search engine?
Is it an advertising company?
Is it a web content publisher?
Is it a technology company?

Does it provide news?
Does it provide entertainment?
Does it provide organization?
Does it provide results?

Yahoo needs to retrench and make tough decisions — and that will only happen if the property is sold. A public company with lots of shareholders, Yahoo will get its Yahoo! back with new leadership, some old leadership, tough love, and a brand plan. And when I say brand plan I don’t mean a new logo, new color palette and an replacement agency for Goodby, Silverstein and Partners.  I mean an organizing principle for marketing.  A plan that inform every decision made by the company — from hiring to firing to what new mobile services to launch.

When dimensionalized through obs and strats, a brand plan creates marketing clarity. TPG doesn’t speak like this, but they know how to make it happen. It’s about time. Peace. 

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Jerry Yang is stepping down at Yahoo (without a named successor) and PepsiCo has removed long-time ad agency BBDO in favor of white hot TBWA/Chiat Day.  Change is in the wind.  Yahoo needed to do something, though I’m not sure removing Yang does anything. The number 1 website in terms of traffic, they still do not know what they want to be. The next CEO had better have a focused strategic vision beyond “I wouldn’t have f’ed up the Microsoft deal.”

 

As for TBWA/Chiat Day picking up PepsiCo, it is the second black eye they have given BBDO in the last couple of years; taking Visa was the first.  Both these agencies are on a par if you ask me with the slight edge going to TBWA thanks to good leadership (Tom Carroll and Lee Clow) and the ability to do striking, simple work.  But “Life Takes Visa,” though a fine line, hasn’t yet been actualized.  

 

These two changes are incremental, certainly not seismic. And so are they changes at all? Nah.

 

But ladies and gentlemen, change is in the wind and it is to those who take advantage of it – with tight strategic understanding – that the spoils will fall.   

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A Senior Moment?

Rupert Murdoch seems to be having a senior moment. One day he’s meeting with Jerry Yang in an effort to align News Corp with Yahoo and Google, the next he’s talking about working with Microsoft to take over Yahoo. Either way it sounds as if he’s trying to get someone who knows the space to handle his Fox Interactive Media, owner of MySpace. 

 

I’m getting the impression Mr. Murdoch is more interested in “the deal” than the “vision.” Frankly, he knows how Microsoft makes money, so I’m betting that the Microsoft play is where he’s likely to land – if he does land. And that’s debatable given some of these tactics. Maybe his recent dinner with Jerry Yang was strictly intell gathering. If it was, I bet Roy Bostock was not at the table.

 

PS. I wrote some time ago that Mr. Murdoch’s purchase of The Wall Street Journal, would lead to creation of the world’s biggest business social net. That would have been vision. 

PPS. For a fun look at a Visual Guide to the Yahoo Mating Dance, click on the Dan Farber link: http://www.zude.com/index.htm?pg=MAIN&btnbar=3&pgid=62208041108532417674

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Mission Yahoo

The moving forward strategy for Yahoo has been something I’ve pondered the last couple of years as Yahoo the portal, start-page, search engine company has been losing steam.  In a post a few months ago, I noted Yahoo should invest its money in the best online beat writers out there and make Yahoo the premiere content source on the web. Get the best sports writer, fashion writer, political analyst, etc. and using the language of the web and bloggers, turn Yahoo into the “first” read of the Web. In thinking this way  I ceded search to Google, but I have always been a “content is king” guy.

 

Jerry Yang today announced his intent to not go quietly in the area of search, introducing Buzz which will improve Yahoo’s search capability and the richness of its results. This is a fight, and a focus, they should have had a couple of years ago. Yahoo is still all over the place. Ford makes cars and trucks and can’t get out of its own way. Imagine a company that has 3 or 4 missions. 

 

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