Ghost Sites of the Web

Web 1.0 history, forgotten web celebrities, old web sites, commentary, and news by Steve Baldwin. Published erratically since 1996.

June 27, 2008

Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Windows 98

Windows 98 is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month. While few people remember this OS with any particular fondness, it ran on millions of machines, and I'm sure that there must be a handful of people (perhaps on a tropical atoll) who continue to use it today.

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How to Read a Yahoo Reorg Memo

How to Read a Yahoo Reorg Memo

I was inspired to provide a machine-to-human translation of Yahoo's memo detailing its attempt to save itself. This post originally appeared on the pages of Silicon Alley Insider.


SUNNYVALE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO - News), a leading global Internet company, today announced changes to its organization aimed at improving its products, technologies and execution.

Translation: Our products are undistinguished, our technologies are iffy, and our execution has been egregious. We're going to throw all the chess pieces in the air now, and hope they magically rearrange themselves in a way resembling a credible strategy.

The moves support its strategy to be the starting point for the most users, the must-buy for the most advertisers and the platform of choice for developers.

Translation: We haven't evolved from a portal, we still depend on "bulk tonnage" media buys, and we're desperately hoping that outside developers will do something interesting with Yahoo before Carl Icahn and his buddies bail out and send the stock to $10 a share.

Key Elements

Yahoo! announced are the centralization of consumer product development to enhance the company’s ability to release products worldwide; the creation of a U.S. region focused on bringing products to market for users, advertisers and publishers; formation of an insights strategy team; and enhancements to the technology infrastructure to optimize the use of data and improve coordination between product and engineering teams.

Translation: Somewhere along the way we lost track of where our people worked, what they did, who they reported to, and why we even hired them in the first place. We haven't developed many consumer products that have been of any interest to users recently (because we've been so busy talking up advertisers and publishers), and have been so focussed on on the Far East, where has been making us money (at least on paper), that we plain forgot that it kind of matters what we do in the U.S., hence the new group. As far as our new "Insights Strategy Team," we're hopeful that they can come up with a more interesting strategy than this tired portal-start-page business, which nobody takes seriously in a Web 2.0 world.

“These moves accelerate the ability of our deep and talented team to build great products, grow our audiences and improve monetization globally,” said Jerry Yang, CEO. “They are designed to put us in an even better position to leverage our leading global audience and capture the opportunity we see in the convergence of search and display advertising.”

Translation: Peek-a-boo: I'm Jerry Yang and miraculously, I'm still here! By the way, our whole game is dependent on the dubious proposition that display ads (which don't work) can be turned into gold by making them stalk you as you surf around the Web. It's inevitable that some sorehead will eventually point out that this idea is a chimera but we'll all be outta here by then.

Business and Product Changes

The company is creating three new teams that will report to President Sue Decker. An Audience Products Division will assume responsibility for companywide product strategy and product management.

Translation: We still think of our users as "an audience" that should be talked to, not listened to. After all, the main thing that keeps us going is big brand spenders who really don't care about all that fancy-dancy "conversation" stuff.

It will be led by Ash Patel who previously managed the company’s Platforms & Infrastructure group. A U.S. region with accountability for all go-to-market activity in the U.S. will be led by Hilary Schneider, who previously headed the company’s Global Partner Solutions group. Finally, an Insights Strategy team will assume responsibility for centralizing and executing a common strategy for the use of data and analysis across Yahoo!. The company plans to name this group’s leader within the next few weeks.

Translation: We're enshrining "Failing Upward" as our new company slogan.

“The changes we’re making today will help deliver superior global products for users and enable faster and better decision-making,” said President Sue Decker. “This is a logical next step in light of our success last year in moving to a more centralized approach to developing world-class marketing products. We have planned these changes deliberately over the past several months to clarify responsibilities and to capitalize on the scale advantages while allowing for fine tuning to meet local market needs.”

Translation: I'm Sue Decker and I speak in mind-numbing generalities. I don't expect you to know what the heck I'm referring to when I speak of last year's "success... in moving to a more centralized approach to developing world-class marketing products" but trust me: we're on the right track. Oh, and we weren't panicked into making these changes by everything that's happened since February. We've been planning them since 1997.

Technology and Infrastructure Changes
Yahoo! is making changes to its technology organization, led by Chief Technology Officer Ari Balogh, to better position the company to execute on its strategic priorities. Principal changes are developing a world-class cloud computing and storage infrastructure; rewiring Yahoo! onto common platforms; and creating a stronger partnership between product and engineering teams.“Since my arrival at Yahoo! earlier this year, we’ve carefully evaluated the best possible configuration of our technology group to support our business strategies,” said Balogh. “I’m excited by the depth of our team which—combined with the talent we continue to recruit—will execute even better under this new structure.” In order to expand its cloud computing capabilities, the Company will form a Cloud Computing & Data Infrastructure Group, charged with developing a computing infrastructure that balances scalability with cost effectiveness. It will move all consumer-facing platform teams to the Audience Technology Group, led by Venkat Panchapakesan. In addition, it is putting new leadership in place behind Yahoo!’s search group, naming Prabhakar Raghavan to direct search strategy and Tuoc Luong as the interim leader of the search product team. Both Prabhakar and Tuoc will also continue in their roles as the leaders of Yahoo! Research and Search Engineering respectively. In addition, David Ku will lead the Advertising Technology Group within Search. Yahoo!’s Marketing Products Division, Connected Life and Corporate Marketing groups will continue to operate as they do today.

Translation: Lots of fun changes afoot in the engine room! We can't tell you what the heck cloud computing has to do with our unchangeable portal strategy, but maybe we can finally develop some kind of product beyond Flickr that people would actually pay for so we're covered when the banner ad bubble pops. Hey - did you notice that we haven't actually mentioned any layoffs in this memo? Don't worry: they're coming, and it's more than likely that the grunts, not the execs, will take the brunt. Why cut fat when you can cut muscle?

About Yahoo! Inc.

Yahoo! Inc. is a leading global Internet brand and one of the most trafficked Internet destinations worldwide. Yahoo! is focused on powering its communities of users, advertisers, publishers, and developers by creating indispensable experiences built on trust. Yahoo! is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California.

Translation: We still live and die by raw, undifferentiated traffic. Just about everything we do is duplicated by competing services, so the "creating indispensible experiences" phrase is there strictly for laughs. We still have a hell of a memorable domain name, however, and it's for sale at a price that I'm sure you'll all find reasonable.

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