Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz will be speaking today at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. I’m here and will be live blogging her remarks, when the session begins.
Bartz is set to speak at 2pm Pacific, and she’ll be interviewed on stage by John Battelle. Live blogging to start shortly. There’s also a live stream here.
John: Can you tell us what is Yahoo?
Carol: I can. I mean maybe it has taken me 2 years, but I got it. The question has interested me because I think Yahoo is a really simple story. Content, communications, media, technology, that’s Yahoo.
John: When you started at Yahoo, was it that?
Carol: I think Yahoo has frankly always been that. It was better at times, but I think it has always stood for those words. You have to talk about technology, the great tech that allows our science that personalizes the web. You have to talk about media, communication, like IM. I think it went a little off the tracks when people called it a search company.
John: You solved that (audience laughs).
Carol: Yes, search is important, think she said like 1/2 the traffic. Algorithmic search is touch, paid side is a big science problem. We’re still doing a lot of that by the
John: Can we get past that old view of the kid on the internet that some might have (he said much more, sorry couldn’t catch it all).
Carol: She was being interviewed on CNBC when Yahoo went public, coindcidentally. Interviewer asked her what she thought about that company with the funny name, and she was supportive. And thus it was kind of meant to be that she defends them now. Yahoo has stood for fun on the internet. Has it had tough years, sure, I don’t think you’re a good company if you don’t face some tough times.
John: Vision of the future. Are they coming for Yahoo but not just because their mail is there, or their portfolio (suggesting they could go elsewhere).
Carol: I believe very well wehn people come to Yahoo they know they are there and why. It’s been a trusted friend, place to find out what’s going on today, sports, news, we’re number one in all those categories. Thinks the Yahoo home page has been static too long, they need ratings and rankings that people in the Web 2.0 sphere that they want.
So number one to get back into this game of very interactive and a great experience. Second point, that experience through our science and technology get better. When screens are smaller, you can’t waste pixels. To do that, you have to really understand what they’ve been doing, in obviously a very private way, but serve up personalized content, ads. We serve about 6 million different combinations of front pages per day, based on what individual users want.
If there’s a breaking story, oil spill, no one is going to register they’re interested in — but our editors know it needs to be on every page.
John: This seems like what some ad networks have been trying to do for years. Is that fair to what Yahoo is thinking (missed some of this, sorry).
Carol: You’ll reach a point as a small site where you can’t scale without the science. So we want to help the ecosystem. We serve up 18 billion (think billion, maybe millions) ads per day.Not ony having our own content, crowdsourced content, that’s science — and that doesn’t scale for most companies.
John: Will you export a service that helps others serve up their own content and do what you do on your home page.
Carol: Yes, we’re looking at helping people manager their content and their ecosystem.
John: Is this a product now?
John: So you’re not announcing “ContentSense.” Let’s talk about Google. You said to me once that Google had to grow a Yahoo a year. Is that an enviroment you aspire to.
Carol: Well of course. Who wouldn’t aspire to be a Google. But we’re not a Google. We’re a Yahoo. Part of her first year was explaining that Yahoo wasn’t Google.
John: And that why drop search?
Carol: Not for that reason but becasue it was the right reason for tech, cost issues. But if you go outside Silicon Valley, people arent’t confused. They go “Yahoo.” They don’t ask those trick questions.
John: Yahoo’s approach to social. You’ve deeply integrated Facebook. Now adding Zynga and Twitter. Are you working with others or reserving the right to create a Yahoo social graph?
Carol: Social is a word that’s been around for a long long time. We’ve been social. The cavemen were social. The idea that social exists in one place on the internet, social is about interaction. There’s a kind of interaction that Facebook does. But email, IM, ads — people might as well sit in front of the newspaper if they want to sit in front of a static screen. We’re not tring to copy anyone but enhance the user experience on Yahoo in a Yahoo fashion. Not that they’re not going to go to other places, but they’ll go to Facebook and Yahoo, Google and Yahoo, not one or the other.
John: Do you want to make like a Yahoo Connect that can sit on my right shoulder and take it around.
Carol: One of the things we should have done long ago was take anyone’s login, Facebook or Google’s, allows easier for users and play in the ecosystem. I think Facebook is very clever, the identity on the left shoulder, but that isn’t exclusive, the rest of us have other identities.
John: It strikes me you could create a Yahoo value added identity that could change how I interact on the web.
Carol: We could do that. But right now challenge is we have so much data, siloed in sports, siloed elsewhere, for us to even get our own data in the grid, in the cloud. that’s one of the first things we need to do. We can worry about the steps you’re talking about when we get our own data house in order.
John: Talent, lots of team vented about people leaving Yahoo or being shown the door. We have quite a war for talent going on. Are you going to give raises like Google?
Carol: No. Jokes actually it’s 15.
John: Why do those engineers come to Yahoo?
Carol: Been in Valley since 1983. I’ve watched this talent race in this 60 mile circle for 20 years. You can never beat an IPO if it’s a really interesting job. People want to make a difference. Interesting job, with tools to do, and problems to solve. We don’t have an IPO. But we have stock, I think that’s going to go up, even if I’m not supposed to say that. There’s are plenty of fascinating jobs at Yahoo.
John: There have been rumors of a buyout to take Yahoo private.
Carol: I love being a public CEO. Once you understand what the job is, the complexity. Do I like every analyst? No. Every employee? No. My husband, not every day, I don’t even like myself every day.
John: But what about the rumors?
Carol: I forgot that was the question.
John: Is it not going to happen? Whatever’s best for the company yada yada
Carol: You could be a public CEO, see?
Q&A: Tie up with AOL? What would it take to get rid of Alibaba.
Carol: We have no interest in getting rid of Alibaba.
John: But they want to get rid of you I read.
Carol: Do you believe everything you read? For AOL can’t comment on public rumors etc etc. In 1995, Yahoo did great thing (think she said) in giving control to Alibaba made a billion dollar investment into multibillion payoff.
John: Do you get credit for that?
Carol: Yes. And increasingly we get credit for our strategic decision to invest in Chinese internet without the risk.
Q&A: To clarify, would AOL make sense?
Carol: It’s always easy to do would could should, and I won’t.
Q&A: Relationship with Groupon and your aquistion strategy?
Carol: Hope you notice today we announced coupon strategy with 20 companies. On aquistiions: get talent & tech, content and to acquire users, those are the three strategies.
Q&A: Question on Associated Content and content strategies.
Carol: I’m so interested in tail content. You brought up a good point, how do you ensure the quality. One reason they liked Associated was the tech behind sourcing and managed 400,000 writers. When you sit through a demo of their backend, it’s fantastic. Just assume it’s not John (Batttelle) by the way who’s not on sabbatical.
John: Jokes about pay.
Carol: We pay well for good stuff.
John: What about Demand.
Carol: Glad it puts a spotlight on a viable growth engine for the internet.
Q&A: Plans for Yahoo widgets on TV.
Carol: The good news about coming to Yahoo, people might criticize I didn’t know the internet. but I know how to get things done and development, and I love what the small widget team has gone. Now all the internet TV stuff is changing, so we’re wondering if an API makes sense or other ways to work. We’re continuing to push that, and things could change, because the landscape has changed.
John: Going to give you quick words and you give a response. Below, the word he asked an answer:
- apple – beatles
- twitter – tweet
- microsoft – partner
- facebook – competition
- hp – where’s leo
- google: great company
And that’s it.