Inside Yahoo’s Refocused Empire: Back to Technology

by Jordan Richardson on October 22, 2012

Under new CEO Marissa Mayer, Yahoo has been slowly making moves to refocus its energy on technology. That means a move away from media and toward the foundations that brought it to the dance in the first place.

Headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, Yahoo’s name is really an acronym for Yet Another Hierarchal Officious Oracle. The company sprang from Jerry Yang and David Filo’s designs on building a directory of websites in hierarchal fashion, moving away from the searchable indexes that were prevalent. Yahoo was born in 1994 and the domain for was created in January of 1995.

From those humble beginnings, Yahoo went through an awful lot. It added a web portal and grew in the 1990s. Its stock went up during the dot-com bubble period and went down when the bubble burst. By 2000, it was using Google as its search engine but started to develop its own search technologies. It also started to overhaul its email services in an effort to compete with Gmail.

Unfortunately, Yahoo’s bluster seemed to point it in the wrong direction. Its development of web properties like Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Sports led to some well-trafficked portals, but its lack of forward motion has left said properties looking relatively outdated.

Enter Mayer and her designs on refocusing the Yahoo empire.

After 13 years at Google, it’s safe to say that she developed some tricks of the trade. According to sources both inside and outside the company, Mayer’s plans lie strictly with revamping and redeveloping an onus on tools and technologies.

With her predecessors working hard on content deals and delivering media via the likes of ABC News and CNBC, Yahoo fell to the backdrop on those offerings.

In attempting to reverse the trend and move Yahoo back to the front page, Mayer has been rifling through potential acquisitions that should theoretically boost company fortunes. Included on the shortlist are the likes of PubMatic, Millennial Media and start-up Caterva.

Yahoo has plenty of money on hand to pursue these acquisitions, too, and has made no bones about big hires. Mayer has thrown money at ad technology systems guru Henrique de Castro (new chief operating officer) and Ken Goldman, while renewing a focus on advertising that her predecessors had given up on.

Yahoo has seen a steady decline in users, despite ranking among the top portals in the world with 700 million mobile users visiting a Yahoo site each month. With Facebook and Google ever-present, this is a trend that Yahoo is hoping to reverse. And if Mayer’s decisions pay off, the once dominant web portal could find itself back on top again in a big way.

Mayer will make her first public comments on Monday when Yahoo reveals its quarterly finances.

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