The July 20, 2016
An Open Letter to Yahoo
Under the category of better-late-than-never: The Almanack obsesses over
things that are qwerty, but occasionally, a dramatic example of anti-qwertyness
catches our attention. So it is with Yahoo.
Yahoo is an organization that should be competing for 'good enough' in many
sectors. It's not as old as AOL or Vista, but it was early on the scene, and
it was a vast improvement over its predecessors. It's not a giant, by Silicon
Valley standards, but it is certainly large, and smaller armies have shown
critical mass. Its mail client is as good as any and better than most, as is
its search engine. The old, wonderfully flexible Yahoo home page anticipated
the Droid interface by more than a decade, and it put just what you want in
front of your face. Yahoo finance is a slicker tool than what most of the
So why is Yahoo for sale, searching for a White Knight, a savior, an identity?
We don't have a team of investment bankers or business analysts to call upon,
but a wild guess from the sidelines is the strategic team went looking for a
Big Score. Because we are not investment professionals, and we do not know the
individuals involved, there is no point in mulling over the deals that didn't
pay off. But we do have some strong opinions about how Yahoo could make, an
honest living playing 'small ball'.
Don't compete with Google or Amazon, cooperate with them. Focus on the
end-user. Get rid of the awful chaos of the new home page, delight us with a
slick page of news streams, entertainment, game portals, social links,
financial links, and time-sucks that we can manage. If you run out of things
to offer, ask a hundred millenials. Drill into money-holes like Amazon and
iTunes and PlayStore with one-click pass-through, but keep the user in
control. Make it so easy to set up the page an 84-year-old can do it, and
secure the hell out of it all, because WE DON'T KNOW HOW TO DO IT OURSELVES.
After 25 years of access to the Web, we still don't have a decent password
manager. Give us one that keeps all our passwords, for all our devices, not
just one-browser-at-a-time. The new phoneclick-signon is clever, arrogantly
Yahoo-specific, a solution in search of a problem.
There aren't many entities we trust, analog or digital. So far, Yahoo is not
compromised, just schizoid. Get sane, get cool again, make us believe we can
trust you with our secrets.
For those of us who have dreams of bloggerdom, sell us a good, cheap,
do-it-yourself or do-it-with-help or do-it-with-tools website with our own name
and address on it. Take care of the silly accounting and housekeeping, make it
easy to find stuff, and sell it at cost plus a few cents. You'll make a
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