Yahoo Optimization Help

Yahoo Acquires OnTheAir, Betting Big on Mobile

Ever since former Googler Marissa Mayer took the reins at Yahoo, observers have been speculating about the venerable but beleaguered search engine’s new direction. A look at the company’s first two purchases since the new CEO came aboard seems to indicate a big bet on mobile apps.

Let’s take a quick step back in time to late October of this year. That’s when Mayer made her first acquisition since arriving at Yahoo. The purchased company, named Stamped, produced a recommendations app by the same name. James Niccolai, reporting on the story for CFO World, noted that the app was developed by former Google employees and had even received financial support from Google Ventures. Mayer visited Stamped shortly after the purchase and tweeted that she was “happy to be reunited with Robby and his team.”

Stamped was an iPhone app that I like to think of as an “external memory.” It let users keep track of restaurants, books, movies, and other things they like, and let their friends know about them. I say “was” because at the time of the purchase, Stamped reported that it would be discontinuing the product at the end of the  year. Users can download a PDF copy of their data. Niccolai noted in his article that they were planning to build a “big, mobile, and new” app for Yahoo, but didn’t supply details.

Yesterday, Yahoo made its second acquisition since Mayer became CEO: a video chat start-up named OnTheAir. John Ribeiro, reporting the story for the IDG News service, noted that “Yahoo sources said the acquisition was for talent, and that the OnTheAir product will not be continued.” Four of OnTheAir’s five-member team hold degrees from Stanford, the same college from which Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin (and Marissa Mayer, for that matter) graduated. The remaining member of the team, according to his bio, held an interesting job before joining OnTheAir: he worked at Google on infrastructure that supports Gmail and Google+.

Perhaps it’s too soon to call it a pattern, but the similarities between these two purchases can’t be ignored. Mayer acquired two companies that included former Google employees; both firms worked on creating useful mobile applications; and both acquisitions focused on gaining the talent as opposed to the company’s actual products. Clearly, Mayer thinks Yahoo’s future involves making mobile apps.

This shouldn’t surprise anyone who was paying attention when Mayer participated in her first earnings conference call since accepting the position of Yahoo CEO. Juan Carlos Perez, reporting on the call for Computerworld, highlighted her interest in the mobile field, and her desire for Yahoo to do more, and better, in this area. “We’ve made progress, but Yahoo hasn’t capitalized on the mobile opportunity,” she said; Perez noted that she felt “it has ‘underinvested’ in its mobile front-end development.”

Furthermore, according to Perez, Mayer believed that Yahoo’s “mobile product lineup is too fragmented, with more than 76 different iOS and Android applications. ‘Our top priority is a focused, coherent mobile strategy,’ Mayer said. This will involve a significant beefing up of the company’s mobile staff.” Clearly, Yahoo took two steps in that direction by purchasing Stamped and OnTheAir.

So what are the next steps? It’s possible that Mayer will acquire one more company that fits the pattern before the end of this year, but I don’t rank that as a high probability. Rather, I expect this month to be devoted to the new guys settling in and brainstorming, with Mayer dropping some hints (to them, not us, alas) as to where she’d like to see Yahoo’s mobile apps going.

Where, exactly, is that? Count on it not being games, at least not right away (if ever). My guess is that she wants to see these mobile apps fit together in a coherent package, but continue to be useful as standalone applications. I wouldn’t be surprised if Yahoo comes up with something reminiscent of the iPad’s or Windows 8′s approach – done much better.

On the other hand, I don’t see Yahoo getting into its own hardware. I could see them creating custom mobile app packages for specific devices, and working with the manufacturers to install them on smartphones and tablets. It’s also entirely possible that this time next year, we’ll see at least three versions of some impressive Yahoo mobile apps: one for Android, one for Apple’s App Store, and one for Microsoft’s app store. It’s worth noting, at this point, that Yahoo has almost all the pieces it needs among its various products and purchases to build its own full-service computer software package; about the only thing missing is its own web browser. Or it could easily bring all these services together to build a better social site than Facebook (though the less said about Yahoo Groups, the better). We’ll just have to wait and see what Mayer and company cooks up at Yahoo, now that there are some more veteran chefs in the kitchen.

Author information

Terri

Terri

The post Yahoo Acquires OnTheAir, Betting Big on Mobile appeared first on SEO Chat.

Will Local Search Matter More on Yahoo?

At least that seems to be the conclusion drawn by Stephanie Hobbs over at Search Engine Land. She pointed out that Mayer was most recently involved at Google with heading up its local, maps, and location services. Her hand was evident in Google’s purchase of Zagat, the launch of Google+ Local, and even in the development of Google Maps. As Hobbs explained, Mayer lives and breathes local, knows the increasing importance of local search, and is an expert in creating innovative user experiences in the space. So what does that mean for Yahoo? Let’s consider Yahoo! Local for a second. It was pot…

Mayer Boosts Yahoo Morale with Google Techniques

Kara Swisher does a great job of covering all the changes. After being spotted in Yahoo’s cafeteria getting her own lunch, Mayer added a weekly all-hands Friday afternoon meeting to the schedule. At the first of these meetings, she announced that the food at Yahoo’s URLs Cafe in Silicon Valley would be free from now on. For those who don’t know, Friday afternoon all-hands meetings and free food in the cafeteria are classic Google staples. And more seem to be coming. Mayer seems to be planning big changes to the layout of Yahoo’s work areas and buildings. The idea would be to foster a more col…

Yahoo Layoffs Beginning This Week

Kara Swisher broke the story at AllThingsD, citing unnamed insider sources. Though Yahoo employs around 14,000 people, she noted that thousands of employees could be laid off. The layoffs are apparently the upshot of a series of meetings Thompson held with top management at the end of March. What will Yahoo look like after the layoffs? Swisher described the goal as a drastically slimmed-down organization with a focus on media, advertising and new but unclear ‘future’ initiatives. To that end, the layoffs will mostly affect those employed in the product, research and marketing units of Yah…

Jerry Yang Resigns from Yahoo

Yahoo’s announcement of Yang’s resignation notes that Yang also resigned from the boards of Yahoo Japan Corporation and Alibaba Group Holding Limited. It also includes this excerpt from a letter Yang wrote to Roy Bostock, Yahoo’s chairman of the board: My time at Yahoo!, from its found to the present, has encompassed some of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of my life. However, the time has come for me to pursue other interests outside of Yahoo! Yang also expressed enthusiasm for the appointment of Scott Thompson as Yahoo CEO two weeks ago. Yang’s resignation crowns a tumultuous f…

Yahoo Hires PayPal President for CEO

You can read Yahoo’s official announcement here. It’s interesting to note that Thompson was a dark horse for this job; many outside observers didn’t have him on any of their lists. He clearly brings a different perspective from his predecessor, Carol Bartz, who was abruptly fired a few months ago. Let’s start with his background. Kara Swisher notes that Thompson is a genuine Internet geek. He became president of PayPal in early 2008, coming to that position after serving as the company’s CTO, charged with handling its information technology, product development, and architecture. He worked …

Yahoo Backing Off of Asian Interests?

The New York Times offers the most complete coverage of this story. As currently being considered, it would not be an outright sale. The complicated deal would net Yahoo about $17 billion in cash and allow it and its partners to avoid having to pay taxes on it. According to the Times, the terms of the deal involve Alibaba and Softbank (the major stakeholder in Yahoo Japan) setting up new subsidiaries consisting of both cash and operating assets which Yahoo wants to run. Yahoo would swap out most of its stake in Alibaba and all of its stake in Yahoo Japan for these subsidiaries, effectively se…

Yahoo`s Biggest Worry: Alibaba, or Facebook?

A Washington Post video reported that China’s Alibaba is preparing to make a bid for all of Yahoo. The Chinese e-commerce company, run by Jack Ma, has long wanted to buy back the 40 percent stake that Yahoo owns in it. The bid, for $20 a share, would value the venerable search engine at $25 billion. Eric Jackson, a major Yahoo shareholder and founder of Ironfire Capital LLC, thinks that price is too low. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Jackson let an investor revolt back in 2007 that led to a change in the CEO. But despite his reservation about the low price, in the video, Jackson n…

Yahoo Site Explorer Merged With Bing

The death of Yahoo Site Explorer has even inspired a eulogy over at SEOMoz by Michael King, to say nothing of write-ups at Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Land, among other places. The tool was born in September 2005. What is it about the closing down of a five-year-old tool that brings on nostalgia in SEOs? Quite a bit, when the tool was YSE. Many SEOs started their career with this tool. It was free, after all, and at the time it came out, users couldn’t get the kind of information it offered without paying through the nose. Not only did YSE give you complete information on your own …

Yahoo Site Explorer Merged With Bing

The death of Yahoo Site Explorer has even inspired a eulogy over at SEOMoz by Michael King, to say nothing of write-ups at Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Land, among other places. The tool was born in September 2005. What is it about the closing down of a five-year-old tool that brings on nostalgia in SEOs? Quite a bit, when the tool was YSE. Many SEOs started their career with this tool. It was free, after all, and at the time it came out, users couldn’t get the kind of information it offered without paying through the nose. Not only did YSE give you complete information on your own …