Yahoo! reorganises – will it help?

ZuluZulu doubts it.

News reports claim that the latest reorganisation buy the massive internet portal signifies a rethink by Yahoo and the web community at large about content on the web.

The departure of television veteran Lloyd Braun from Yahoo Inc. underscores a shift, or at least a major hiccup, by major Internet companies away from creating costly original content.

Braun, who once ran primetime programming for the Walt Disney Co.’s ABC network, left Yahoo this week after his role was greatly diminished in a companywide reorganization that placed his group into a newly created division.

Yahoo’s hiring of Braun to run the new Yahoo Media Group two years ago sparked speculation that the online company was itching to become, in effect, a TV network on the Web, producing its own shows to attract eyeballs to its lucrative Internet advertising.

After all, Braun was responsible for ABC’s nascent turnaround and the genius behind its hit show “Lost.” Analysts saw great symbolism in the consolidation of Yahoo’s far-flung media sites — music, video, finance and news — into a new Santa Monica office that was once home of fabled movie studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

But two years ago, no one foresaw the rise of sites such as YouTube and MySpace, which became huge companies by aggregating user-generated videos and creating communities where people could network. YouTube was eventually bought by search giant Google Inc. for $1.76 billion, while MySpace was snatched by News Corp. for $580 million.

Err… obviously not. But hell they should have. Anybody that poured over internet usage paterns 6 years ago would have told you what the web gurus like Tim Berners Lee were saying for ages AND that was blidingly obvious anyway.

The web is an ultra democratic medium. Anybody can publish cheaply. It’s less of a one to many medium (broadcast) and more like point to point. The first killer apps on the web were search engines and email. Did any of these highly paid guys spend some time to think about it why this was so?

I mean Yahoo had a very succesful email service, search engine, intstant messenger, Yahoo! Groups, Geocities – what did these extremely succesful services have in common? They all enable web users to find, communicate, and create content. Who cares if most IM conversations are inane or most Geocities websites are junk. Yahoo! paid nothing for this content or conversations. And websites like blogs.marketwatch.com agree:

“About 30% of the pageviews on the fast-growing new-media newspaper company Topix.net come from community comments.

The figure tells you something about what the Internet generation wants to consume online.”

 

Yahoo dispels first mover myth

Could Yahoo’s! management not also extrapolate on this logic??

Braun also had to curtail ambitions to produce original shows for the Web. Replicating the TV network model would be prohibitively expensive, especially if such shows could only be viewed on a small computer screen.

Yahoo did create several new video and other programs, including news dispatches from war journalist Kevin Sites. The company also recently launched a series of live music performances similar to those featured on rival AOL’s site.

But in a twist, one of its most popular shows, called “The Nine,” features host Maria Sansone counting down nine notable user-generated video clips found on other sites such as YouTube.

And the new chiefs at Yahoo don’t inspire much confidence. The LATimes report:

The new rising star is Sue Decker, the chief financial officer, whose promotion Tuesday positions her, analysts say, as the heir apparent to Semel. As head of a new group that caters to advertisers and online publishers, she will oversee Yahoo’s biggest moneymaking ventures.

“What we’re doing is aligning ourselves with our strategic priorities,” Semel said in an interview.

Yahoo said it was searching for an executive to run a second group focused on users. The audience group includes search, communication products, online shopping and media properties.

Farzad Nazem, Yahoo’s chief technology officer, will lead a third group that is focused on providing technology for the other two businesses.

If Yahoo has any sense, the person who runs the audience group would have the most say. Without careful attention to their users and what they want to do, Yahoo will be adrift.

Read more about the problems of being an internet portal.

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