Yahoo Challenges Apple with a Cocktail of Mobile Publishing Tools
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design choices that, in my eyes, make the individual stories harder to read than they should be. It’s now clear to me that I was missing the point, since Livestand wasn’t really designed for usability. It’s a technical demonstration, aimed at publishers as much as consumers.
“I don’t think we want to be a social news reader,” says Fernandez-Ruiz. “What we want to be is a partner for a lot of publications to gather magazine-style content onto the iPad easily. Where Livestand has not been positioned, as some of the competitors have done, is as an app that gets a bunch of stuff from a number of places, but the brand of the publisher is gone. On Livestand, you will notice that the publisher brand is very obvious everywhere.” That’s precisely because Yahoo sees Livestand as the prototype for a series of independent apps; it’s like a brochure for the Yahoo-powered tablet magazines of the future.
The Data Asset
As everyone knows, it hasn’t been smooth sailing for Yahoo over the last few years. The company still runs a huge display-advertising business. But as a child of the first era of dot-com innovation in the 1990s, it hasn’t managed to adapt swiftly to the social networking and media-sharing revolutions. Its stock value has slipped, its advertising revenues haven’t kept up with those of competitors Google and Facebook, and there’s been a lot of turnover in the top ranks. Ex-CEO Carol Bartz was ousted last fall after a fractious split with Yahoo’s board, and was finally replaced this month by former PayPal president Scott Thompson, just before the departure of co-founder Jerry Yang.
The new CEO hasn’t yet laid out his vision for the company. But he did say this week, after the release of the company’s quarterly earnings report, that Yahoo’s proprietary data may be its “single most underrated, under-appreciated and under-used asset.”
Which fits with everything Fernandez-Ruiz told me. “Regardless of what the strategy is for Yahoo, you are going to need storage,” he says. “You are going to need a big data platform. And that is what we have been doing [in the Platform Technology Group]—solving those hard technical infrastructure problems and reducing the technical debt that has accrued over 15 years.”
While Yahoo might look from the outside like a consumer company, Fernandez-Ruiz summarizes, “We also have a lot of B2B businesses, and they all have the same mission, which is to increase segmentation, increase monetization, increase CPMs, increase sell-through. If you multiply all these things together, that’s where the money is for us and for publishers. So in the grand scheme of things, [Cocktails] is a natural outcome. I agree, it’s transformational to our business. But it is a necessary condition for our business going forward.”