Home Yahoo! Plans Return to its Portal Roots

Yahoo! Plans Return to its Portal Roots

Jerry Yang, founder and CEO of Yahoo!, the world’s third most trafficked collection of web sites, yesterday laid out his plan to investors (and in a blog post) to revitalize the company. Yang wants Yahoo! to become the “starting point” for consumers on the Internet — or in other words, return to the portal strategy that made it the most popular starting place for web surfers in the 90s.

Yahoo! talked about creating the “sites that help you better manage your life and connect you to what matters most to you.” According to the New York Times Yahoo! is rapidly losing ground to Google as the sort of web starting point that they want to become.

“What [Yang’s] fighting against is how much Google has usurped the role of the portal… Google is increasingly winning loyalty for its other services too. It claims iGoogle — its customized home page — is its fastest-growing product. And many sites now say they are getting more traffic from iGoogle than the pioneering My Yahoo service. Gmail, while smaller than Yahoo Mail, is growing faster.” — New York Times

Many think the key for Yahoo! is social networking. I think social networking is something that will exist on the horizon for Yahoo!, but they first need to get their platform strategy in order. As we wrote in July, the platform is the killer app of today’s web and Yahoo! needs to get on board. Words yesterday from Yang indicated that they will be doing just that, opening up more APIs and creating a platform that allows third-party developers to plug into their “starting point” properties.

“We have phenomenal technology platforms and data infrastructure, and it‚Äôs time to share. Besides building on open API for critical platforms, we‚Äôre looking at many different ways to open Yahoo!,” wrote Yang. “We‚Äôre excited about what could happen when a motivated community of publishers and developers starts plugging into our most popular services.”

That echoes the sentiment we expressed last July, when we said that a Yahoo! platform “should be a major part of their plans going forward.” After the platform, social networking is the next step (this is obviously a reverse approach than the one that sites that were social networks first, such as Facebook, have taken). Yahoo! wants to connect people to what matters most to them — these days that means they will have to figure out how to connect people to one another.

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