. . . Wednesday June 25, 2008

Do What You’re Great At

This post is 3 4¬†years old, but I still think it’s the right advice for Yahoo.

When you’re growing up, it’s good to try a bunch of stuff. Then as you get older, you can figure out what you’re great at (or at least realize where the potential is) and focus on that. Maybe you can even be the best.

Yahoo is grown up. They know what they’re great at. They are great at news. When it comes to news, they absolutely crush Google.

So here’s a whacky idea my Yahoo friends. Why not define yourself by your news services and the other stuff where you destroy the competition?

Then when folks ask you about Google, you can honestly say they are neither big nor good enough for us to even worry about at this point.

Be aggressive. Keep adding features. Roll up blog networks and anything that even smells like a decent news aggregator.

When I am in my email, give me news. When I make a homepage, give me more news choices and tools. Don’t settle for first place. Crush everyone. Be the place I browse for news, search for news, share news, annotate news, IM news, SMS news, listen to and watch news, eat and drink news, shoot news into my veins, snort news off the tits of more news. News goddammit, news. And while I’m there, give me entertainment too. Be the portal. There I said it. Be so dominant as the web’s start page that you can give me the choice of search engines.

Search is the dominant thing on the web. No doubt. No doubt at all. But if you add up everything other than straight up web search, that’s still a lot. How can leading in so many of those other areas send one down an internet drain?

Search is, for better or worse, your me too feature. You’ve got a damn exclamation point in your logo. Let Google keep the question mark. That battle is over. Don’t bring chains to a fight if you’re better with knives. Bring extra knives. News, entertainment and information is what you’re great at. You’re old enough to know that.

Update: Of course, by now, the search game has been ceded. But I still think Yahoo has done a poor job properly wrapping their news and finance properties into a nice, unified package. They’ve also acquired poorly. It should be all about consuming information and entertainment. And most important, they’ve got to lose the inferiority complex and start acting like a big player (even if that’s a lot less true than it was when I first wrote this post).

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