How Marissa Mayer can still save Yahoo

E-mail readers of this column don’t have an easy way to leave comments so of course they send them straight to me, which is easily done simply by hitting reply. Other bloggers are smarter than I am and don’t use their actual e-mail address for the feed. The trend this morning among my e-mailers is to see the hiring of Marissa Mayer at Yahoo as some kind of trick by Google. Ms. Mayer is Google to the core, readers say, and she’s going to Yahoo simply as a commando to pick and choose future Google acquisitions.

No, she isn’t.

But I can’t write just a two paragraph column so I’ll go on to suggest what I think Ms. […]

New Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is no Sorkin hero

If Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, The West Wing) was writing the story of Yahoo and he got to Marissa Mayer’s surprise entrance yesterday as Yahoo’s latest CEO, here’s how he would probably play it: the brilliant, tough, beautiful, charismatic engineer defies her Google glass ceiling and, through sheer vision and clever example, saves the pioneering Internet company. That’s how Sorkin would play it because he likes an underdog, loves smart, well-spoken people, and revels in beautiful if slightly flawed characters and happy endings. But in this case Aaron Sorkin would be playing it wrong.

To be clear, were I in the position of Yahoo’s board I would probably have hired Marissa Mayer, too. On paper […]

Absence makes the heart grow fonder and other weird thoughts

How many times yesterday did you do a web search that led you to a Wikipedia page that then didn’t load because of that site’s SOPA protest?  I didn’t notice the effect immediately but once I did I was later able to go back through my browser history and see that I tried and failed to open a total of 13 Wikipedia pages so far.  Whether you give a damn about SOPA or public protest, this experience has given me a whole new respect for the role Wikipedia has come to play in my life and probably yours.

As a result I made a small donation to Wikipedia around lunchtime then cursed it the rest of […]

By |January 19th, 2012|2012|81 Comments

Siri may infringe old Excite patents

I was watching this Bloomberg video the other day featuring Shawn Carolan, the venture capitalist who backed the Siri electronic personal assistant startup then sold it to Apple. His was the closest I’d heard to a technical explanation of how Siri works and it surprised me because it sounded a lot like technology I remembered from years ago at Excite, the long-defunct search engine.  Please look at the video and then meet me in the next paragraph.  The part that excited me (no pun intended) is about four minutes in.

Okay, he said they used linguistic techniques to map blocks of words against 10 possible domains of expertise to figure out what the heck you are asking Siri to do, with the real […]

By |January 14th, 2012|2012|73 Comments

Prediction 6: Thompson's no Yahoo

Let me be clear about this just in case my clever headline makes no sense: I think the Yahoo board punted by hiring Scott Thompson, who is either a stooge for Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang or a convenient placeholder until the company can be sold.

I have nothing against Thompson, who did an able, if very vanilla, job at PayPal, but there is nothing — nothing — that distinguishes him as a new media executive. With a wildly dysfunctional outfit like Yahoo, he’ll be in over his head from the first day. I hope for his sake there’s a golden parachute rip cord available for pulling.

His best hope — and it isn’t much of a hope […]

By |January 4th, 2012|2012|36 Comments