Wired looks at why Yahoo failed to beat Google

Wired has put up a fairly interesting article that looks at Yahoo’s battle against Google. According to Wired, Yahoo could own Google today if it hadn’t botched a buyout bid five years ago. Yahoo CEO Terry Semel offered to buy the younger startup for $3 billion, even though his staff believed Google was actually worth at least $5 billion. $5 billion was too close to Yahoo’s own value for Semel’s comfort, though, and the buyout never happened. After Google turned the offer down, Yahoo moved to plan B and decided to try beating Google at its own game instead of simply taking it over. However, Wired says Yahoo “fumbled, bungled, and mishandled its execution at every step,” allowing Google’s market share (and stock price) to soar past.

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    • StashTheVampede
    • 13 years ago

    Disclaimer: I just started employment at Overture, after the Yahoo acquisition completed.

    After the acquisition was complete, we immediately saw new faces and bosses for the engineering area. “Yahoo’s” engineering setup was different than Overture and their management heavily reflected that (namely, the lack of QA on a huge chunk of “core” yahoo products). My department head went through the span of 4-5 bosses in under a year. Each time we found out a new boss, he always would state “He’s going to stick around.”


    The integration of Overture and Yahoo (Panama, as stated) is still a huge cluster fuck. Yahoo’s billing/records keeping setup is heavily based off a commercial financial package and Overture’s wasn’t. Moving these two very different systems together is a MASSIVE undertaking that would make any PM cringe (for the technical details).

    Yahoo was stuck:
    1) Integrate the two systems, put them under one roof and drive a fully branded company
    2) Leave the two systems alone, let them get changes independent of each other.

    1 is the logical choice — every buyout or merger does this. 2 is simply NOT an option, you MUST go with 1 if you want to keep the same company running with the same people.

    I *was* slated to be a part of Panama (on the Overture side), but left well before the ink dried. I know plenty of people working there still and they still are working on Panama.

    • wesley96
    • 13 years ago

    Yahoo! was originally a directory, not a search engine. In the old days, if you wanted to SEARCH, you went to Alta Vista. But then the ‘search’ part got more relevant and Yahoo decided to add that feature later on.

    • anand
    • 13 years ago

    Yahoo still has a few areas where I think they are superior to Google. Yahoo Local is much much better than Google’s attempt. Yahoo Maps, in my experience, is more accurate at placing addresses than Google Maps (I do think Google’s interface is better but I’ll take better accuracy over better interface).

    Anyway, I’m all for competition. Google kickstarted the other big players into improving themselves which in turn spurs Google to also improve itself.

      • indeego
      • 13 years ago

      I like yahoo mail much better than google mail. Far less spam. Far more options.

      I’ve never used yahoo as a primary search, and never will. Their news section is decent, and that’s about all I can recall using on yahoog{<.<}g

        • Vrock
        • 13 years ago

        I’ve had a Yahoo! mail account since 1997, and I get tons of spam. Much more than my Gmail account. YMMV.

          • willyolio
          • 13 years ago

          yeah, i get no spam whatsoever in my gmail accounts. i guess it depends on what you sign up for using those emails…

            • indeego
            • 13 years ago

            I get roughly 20-40 spams a day in gmail. I was an early adopter and I think gmail was vuln to harvest attacks back in the day? Their options for spam and mail features in general leave much to be desired:
            – I cannot setup a whitelist.
            – I cannot access my contact list after starting a message.
            – In late 2005/early 2006 my mail was inaccessible probably 1/10 times I attempted.

            I get Zero spam in yahoo. By zero, I mean I think there was one week where I got small amounts of spam, and then nothing. In 6 years that is damn good, never seen it rivaledg{<.<}g

        • mongoosesRawesome
        • 13 years ago

        yahoo mail feels bloated to me. i like the google mail interface much better. neither address has spam get through the filters.

      • sativa
      • 13 years ago

      I use finance.yahoo.com ALL the time. Great resource.

    • albundy
    • 13 years ago

    can imagine why?

    almost 3gb of gmail space, google images, firefox shell integration, etc.

    yahoo…well, who really yahoos? they have a fun online gaming selection, but thats it.

    • Chrispy_
    • 13 years ago

    Go to yahoo and you’ve, throughout it’s history, been forever bombarded with adverts, extra features, news, offers, spammy flash animations – it’s like an AOL page, almost. I dare anyone in the UK to get to Yahoo.com. What if you don’t WANT to be automatically redirected to the UK page?

    Google, on the other hand is still the cleanest search engine around, irrespective of it’s quality search results.

    1). Google Logo, yes you are on the right page.
    2). Big obvious text box to enter your search query.
    3). Minimalist options, lots of bandwidth-friendly white space.

    • steelcity_ballin
    • 13 years ago

    Last I checked, Google doesn’t have fantasy hockey. Nuff said. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • 5150
      • 13 years ago

      Game over man, game over!

      • DreadCthulhu
      • 13 years ago

      Yep, Google doesn’t waste space on useless stuff like “fantasy sports.” ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • d2brothe
    • 13 years ago

    Good article. I do remember a time when Yahoo was THE search engine, and google was unheard of. Those were the days, but I really doubt Yahoo is as finished as the article makes it seem.

      • Freon
      • 13 years ago

      Eh, I never remember Yahoo being /[

        • ScythedBlade
        • 13 years ago

        Altavista was a meta-engine … barely any “normal” non-tech person heard of it … Yahoo! had TV ads …

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