Is it just me, or does Yahoo have a thing for Twitter? Watching Yahoo’s moves this year is like watching a kid fall head-over-heels for the prettiest girl in class. He scribbles her initials inside his notebook and tries to impress her at every turn. She never seems to reply, at least not when the rest of the class would see it, so he just keeps trying harder. And harder. And harder.
Here’s what I’m getting at: Yahoo has spent 2009 making a series of moves that suggests it really has a thing for Twitter. Most of these moves have been made out of the spotlight’s glare, but altogether they leave an unmistakable trail of evidence that, at minimum, Yahoo has great admiration for Twitter. And they could mean much more than that. Consider the evidence….
Don’t know what Yahoo Meme is? Well, the closest comparison is Twitter. It’s a micro-blogging service where users post updates that can include photos and/or video. Meme supports reposting and following other users to stay abreast of their updates. Sound familiar?
Yahoo Meme launched a few months ago, but only in a Portuguese version. TechCrunch reported Wednesday that Yahoo recently launched a Spanish-language version with little fanfare.
Singh is the architect of Yahoo BOSS and was just named one of MIT’s Young Innovators Under 35. It means something when he starts messing with Twitter.
Yahoo Home Page
When Yahoo announced its new home page last month, one of the new features is a Twitter-like status update tool that lets you post short messages to your Yahoo account.
The new home page also has an “Updates” tab in the left navigation, which mimics the Twitter experience in a couple ways — showing you updates from your own “connections” (like followers on Twitter) or from all Yahoo users.
What you post as your status on the Yahoo home page will also show on your Yahoo profile, which was redesigned several months ago and now features, you guessed it, a Twitter-like invite to answer the question, “What are you doing now?”
Yahoo Mail is the company’s most popular property, and Yahoo has been bent on making it more social this year. In June, Yahoo announced several new features with Twitter-like sharing in mind. One of those is the ability to update your status from inside Yahoo Mail.
Know Your Mojo
There’s no real purpose for Know Your Mojo to exist that I can see, other than to give Yahoo another way to show its affection for Twitter.
Just yesterday, Yahoo was spreading the word about Important People, a new tool that’s “so beta it’s not even alpha.” What is it? It’s a tool that tries to determine “the most influential people tweeting about a specific topic.”
And how did Yahoo spread the word yesterday? Via Twitter, of course.
Important People is being considered for inclusion in Sideline, a desktop application that Yahoo developed to let Twitter users monitor hot trends and other keyword searches in the Twitter stream.
What’s It All Mean
When new CEO Carol Bartz came on board this year, she promised what I previously called a back to the future approach to Yahoo’s properties. She promised Yahoo would “create community from isolated sites.” Adding social elements to Yahoo Mail and the Yahoo home page makes sense given Yahoo’s huge user base. But, as you can see above, a lot of these new social touches aren’t just about getting social in a general sense; they’re either directly about Twitter or mimic Twitter very closely.
Is Yahoo interested in buying Twitter? (Who isn’t?) In May, Yahoo CTO Ari Balough told the Reuters Global Technology Summit that the company is looking at buying companies that will help Yahoo be a bigger player in social media. “It’s a good time to be buying now…. I can guarantee you there will be some acquisitions, and we will do some stuff in-house.”
People have been speculating about Yahoo buying Twitter for some time. Back in February, John Battelle suggested that “Yahoo might see Twitter as a way to get back to the days of Flickr.” In May, an opinion piece on CBSNews.com made the case for Yahoo to buy Twitter. But both of those, along much of the other speculation, were written before the Yahoo-Microsoft deal.
What’s been said since the deal? Not much.
In last month’s Yahoo earnings conference call, there were several mentions of Yahoo’s plans to be more social. But the word “Twitter” wasn’t mentioned once, not even in passing. If Yahoo has any designs on Twitter, it’s playing things close to the vest (as it should).
But perhaps in this case, Yahoo’s actions speak louder than its words.