Marissa Mayer's Yahoo Still Searching for Revenue Growth a Year Later
"You go through a phase where you set a plan, and then you have to start putting the pieces together," said Gartner analyst Weiner. "At this point I have no idea what Yahoo is. A portal? A social network? A media company? A search engine?" If Mayer has moved the needle for Yahoo, Weiner said in early July, she's done it "very slightly." "To me, the thing that she's achieved the most is the increase of her own celebrity. ... All these other bits and pieces have yet to coalesce into any formal strategy. I don't think, a year later, that we're any more clear as to where Yahoo is at or where it's going to be." He points out that Yahoo is a "huge source" of original video content and that it does this very well. But there's no way to watch this content through any of the popular television platforms. In a time when so many people watch TV with a second screen in their hands, he says, this is a type of failure."Turning Flickr into something cool and relevant is the kind of achievement I'm looking for," he said, "and I've yet to see it." Jack Gold, principal analyst with J. Gold Associates, agrees that Yahoo's greatest challenge right now is deciding what kind of company it is. What does Yahoo do well enough, asks Gold, that consumers without a Yahoo email account will want to visit it instead of others? Gold answers his own question by observing that Yahoo's greatest failing is that it still doesn't do anything markedly better than its competitors. "Marisa Mayer has been working to identify Yahoo's strengths, weaknesses and sustainable advantages, so far with mixed results," Gold told eWEEK. "I believe she has done well at paring down the number of markets Yahoo is trying to address. But she still hasn't produced a winning market position in any particular venue. Though she has stemmed the bleeding." He continued, "In this day and age, that means you'll struggle for user mind share—and revenues. So, Mayer has much work yet to do in establishing Yahoo as a brand in some area that no one can approach." In discussing Yahoo's ability to leverage partnerships, Mayer has called Yahoo a "very friendly" company. It currently has multi-year "significant partnerships" with Microsoft, Facebook and Google. "The way we think about this is, how can our services and our content be brought to the many different platforms and places where our users use our products?" Mayer asked during Yahoo's first-quarter 2013 earnings call, April 16, in regard to partnerships. "I think it's a great opportunity for us, and it's one that we continue to explore and think about as we release new products and as we think about where we might be able to add the most user value in the future."
Flickr is one of Yahoo's better-known properties, and under Mayer it received a design overhaul and began offering users 1TB of free data. Weiner would like to see Flickr have the "influence and power" of an Instagram.