E-Commerce 2.0: Interview with Salim Ismail, Head of Yahoo! Brickhouse

On the latest edition of our podcast show, Read/WriteTalk, Sean Ammirati sat down with Salim Ismail, the head of Yahoo‚Äôs Brickhouse. In this role, Salim is exposed to hundreds of proposals from Yahoo employees each month for products to be developed. One of the most interesting trends these days is “e-commerce 2.0” and Sean asked Salim: “what‚Äôs Yahoo‚Äô s role in eCommerce 2.0?” Salim responded:

“If you look at the walled garden of content today, whether its eBay or Monster.com or Overture, etc. They basically create and get a lot of value from the ownership of the data. As we get to the UGC (user-generated content) world where users own their own data, what happens to a Monster.com if anybody can publish a job announcement off the website? It then gets syndicated and anybody can aggregate that. The value that they believe in ownership of the data will disappear and where you will get value as a service to layer on top of them.

So let’s look at eBay as an example. eBay gets its value; its market count is one of its great things. One is the ownership of all the auction data that they have. And they own that monster list of hundreds of millions of auctions per hour. The second is the payment services provided by Paypal. There’s a lot of value provided by that. And the third is the reputation system that they already arrived at. Some sort of sense of fairness in the marketplace and so on.

If you take away or if you start publishing offers to sell off their blogs, or off their Myspace profiles or Facebook profiles or whatever. What happens to eBay? You can now setup and you can compete with that system. And somebody can set up a competitor to Paypal and leverage that. Whereas today, it‚Äôs very hard to do that.So that‚Äôs one example, one angle on it.”

When you look at Yahoo’s huge user base, its leading Y! Finance service, its widgets platform, what they’re doing with RSS, products like Shoposphere, you get a sense that Yahoo is well placed in “e-commerce 2.0”. And judging by what Salim said above, startups like edgeio could be prime acquisition targets for Yahoo.

In our Yahoo Top 10 in July, we noted that Yahoo has just started to scratch the surface in e-commerce 2.0 – with experiments like Brand Universe and Yahoo Shoposphere. The latter has a concept called ‘me-commerce’ and uses “Pick Lists” to let users share their stuff on the Shoposphere and Yahoo! Shopping – using email and RSS feeds. Yahoo Shopping also has an API, which is being used by companies like ShoppingPath.com, a shopping comparison service.

Check out the Read/WriteTalk podcast with Salim Ismail and let us know in the comments here what you think of Yahoo’s future in e-commerce.

Image credit: David Sifry

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