There was a time Yahoo owned the Internet. Now it can’t even filter spam properly from its for-pay Yahoo Mail, something Google does for free, and well, with Gmail. Yahoo keeps trying to lurch back to the glory days when it was the portal everyone went to, not realizing that few use portals now. Search and social have replaced them. Long time tech journalist Cringely details the fall of Yahoo, its current flailing about, and thinks the only solution is for Yahoo to sell everything, become a tech version of Berkshire Hathaway, and forget about trying to compete with Google, Bing, and Facebook.
However, that would require a complete reversal of what it’s doing now. Between Alibaba and Yahoo Japan, if Yahoo sold them, it would have $50 billion in cash to invest. It could become a player again, albeit in a very different way. The alternative is its current slow death.
Three years into her tenure as Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer has tried a lot of things to improve her company’s prospects but she hasn’t changed everything. Her current path seems to be spinning-off the Alibaba stake to get activist investors off her back, then spinning-off Yahoo Japan when those activist investors realize they can suck the same blood a second time, then finally Ms. Mayer will be in command, 2-3 years from now, of a slimmer, trimmer, and I-guarantee-you totally worthless Yahoo. That’s because you can’t use an old turnaround playbook for what’s essentially a new market.
Yahoo can’t go back to its former greatness because that greatness is no longer available to be got.
Their corporate objective is unachievable not because Yahoo isn’t smart enough but because their intended destination no longer even exists.