Sunday, October 21, 2007

Welcome to the Ecosystem

This takes me back to the biology lab, drawing pictures of various bits of reproductive paraphernalia while surrounded by locusts, rats and tadpoles.

Find your place in the Ecosystem.

I know I said I was running away, but I thought I ought to explore a strange phenomenon that seems to be going on around Yahoo! Although I haven’t been around that much, I have been popping in now and again to see what is going on. On each of these visits, I seem to find a 360 friend who is baling out or an email pointing me to some petition blog.

It seems that we are all involved in some evolution. I could have decided to sit down and check if I was to retain my reversible thumbs, see if I was growing some extra appendages or find out if I could imitate the cat by licking my important little places. Instead, I decided I should explore what was going on. (Note 1)

It seems that the 360 community is being stirred up by whispers from the Yahoo ivory towers as Jerry Yang and his merry band of faceless pixies announced Yahoo!’s financial results for Quarter 3 2007.

Jerry Yang, co-founder and CEO of Yahoo According to Forbes, the 432nd richest man in the world worth $2.2 Billion.

Given the rumours and the various mails and messages going around, I thought that I should see if this all made any sense. (Note 2)

With any set of corporate results, the raw measure of how good or bad they are is the effect on the share price. On Wednesday morning the share price jumped - but as it says in that CNN article “The results won qualified praise from Wall Street analysts, though most acknowledged that Yahoo still has a lot of work to do to revive its business.”

It seems that as far as the Wall Street analysts are concerned, all is not well inside of Yahoo! (Note 3)

The problem is that Yahoo! has seen the amount of money it is making falling over the last year or so. While other rivals appear to be powering ahead. In particular, Google appears to be going from strength to strength. Two days after the Yahoo! Results, Google announced a massive 46% leap in profits.

When you look at the history of the two companies, you will see that both started off in the Internet search engine business. It is in this area that highlights how Yahoo! has got left behind as in August, Google powered more than half all internet searches.

OK, so nothing to do with the topic in question, but worth including all the same.

Yahoo!’s income stems from advertising and from us ‘users’ (Note 4) and from our willingness to pay for their ‘premium’ offerings like the Flickr Pro account. Either way, they require that we keep coming and keep eyeballing the ads and patronising their services.

Now, my flavoursome yeomen, this gives us two very interesting observations.

The first stems from searching my friends list for Wall Street billionaires. Although I didn’t find any of those, I did notice that there is an interesting demographic. Unlike some sites, you would care to mention, Yahoo! 360 appears to attract a large number of older people – with disposable income. There is also a large number of women. In advertising this would be considered a profitable market segment – but also a segment with conservative traits that would not react well to change – especially if they didn’t feel part of the process.

The second is how Yahoo! appears to have forgotten that it is us and our willingness to provide content that generates the hits on their pages. The level of communication between Yahoo! and their clients has been incredibly poor. They have also been slow to react to feedback they receive. While they busily work in the background to develop the ‘new and improved’ Yahoo! product, what is already in place has become neglected and plagued by performance and technical issues.

Whatever the new offering we are promised in 2008 consists of, someone in Yahoo! needs to start engaging with their clients. Already people are beginning to experiment with alternatives and some are moving away already.

Yahoo! takes it’s client base for granted at its peril. There are alternatives out there. We use 360 because it suits our style and that are likeminded people here. When those people will move on, the trickle of leavers will turn into a flood.

On the Yahoo! Q3 2007 Earnings Call, Jerry Yang described the Yahoo! offering as an ecosystem, saying “We determined that to win in this marketplace, we must take advantage of our unique assets to drive value across a broad ecosystem of users, advertisers, publishers and developers.”.

Well, Jerry, listen to your clients. You and your people may consider that we are mere plankton in terms of our contribution to your fortune, but without us plankton, your ecosystem will collapse. Listen to your clients, make us feel that our views are important then perhaps your broad ecosystem will start to thrive

NOTE 1: as you probably guessed, I haven’t discovered any extra appendages or the ability to lick my own important little places. To be honest, if I had, I would probably to busy to contemplate working on this blog. Click to return

NOTE 2: And I will have to keep some of my natural political instincts in check as I do. It would be very easy to go of on tangents about the dealings between Yahoo And China – but I should let you go discover those for yourself. Click to return

NOTE 3: I’ve checked my friends list on 360. As far as I can tell, nobody there is a Wall Street analyst. Somehow, I don’t get the feeling that Gordon Gecko would relax by rattling off a blog entry or uploading a series of photos of his latest financial killing to Flickr. Click to return

NOTE 4: I still detest the term ‘user’ when applied to a person who displays loyalty and devotion by visiting an internet site or brand. The term ‘user’ has a derogatory air, it likens us the customer to a drug addict who visits the site to get a fix and that despite everything will come back again and again unable to break the habit…..

…. Errrm…. Maybe this is a dangerous analogy. Maybe there is a certain amount of habit in the way we use Yahoo! – I just don’t like being reminded of it. Mind you, Yahoo! isn’t the only dealer in town… Click to return

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Making the Habit

It could be that aversion therapy is the only answer.

Knowing where to stick it.

Yes, I admit it. I have run away. In the end it all got too much. As the friends list grew, I found myself with more sites to visit and read and comment – and I slowly got further and further behind.

There comes a point where you are so far behind that you just don’t know where to start – so you just don’t. I reached that point and in the end, I just had to let it go.

In one of those strange twists that life serves up, I saw a man wandering through the town this morning and I suddenly felt the need to capture the image. I needed to write.

He was at the vegetable counter, picking up carrots in manicured hands and inspecting them with glinting, grey eyes. It was the mustard yellow suit that made you notice him, before his confident gait air of authorative confidence made you take notice. Once drawn in , you couldn’t help but feel in the presence of a man with eccentricity that almost verged of rebellion.

In contrast to the white hair, neatly trimmed around a tanned and gleaming bald pate and round face with the minimum of wrinkles, he wore a daffodil yellow waistcoat stretched over a slight paunch. Under the waistcoat with a livid red and white checked shirt and a royal blue silk bow tie.

I moved to select some mushrooms and he strode of into cold meats. Our lives had touched and I knew that there was something I needed to record, ‘just in case’.

So now I have to get back into the habit. (Note 1) The positive habit of writing something every day.

Some time ago, a teacher told me that the secret of establishing a positive habit or breaking a negative habit was to make a conscious effort to do it for a month. The theory being that after a month it you will have established a habit and you will do it without thinking.

I can’t remember the teacher, but I have tried it before with other things. (Note 2) It kind of works so it is worth a try.

However, just in case, I think I shall practice my habit somewhere quiet, somewhere away from the temptations and distractions – and this time I shall not get carried away on a tide of ‘interestingness’, nor will I struggle finding pictures and formatting. I do this to write after all…

NOTE 1: That really should be easy. I have some humdinger habits that I have managed to keep for years! I still bite my nails when I am bored, I still crave tobacco (although nowadays I just follow smokers in the street until the craving dies or I get slapped). I talk to myself when I am trying to thing through a complex problem – which if I am also resolving my tobacco cravings can cause a few problems. Click to return

NOTE 2: Whatever the judge and the ‘gentlemen’ of the press says it was a valid experiment and I wasn’t lurking in those bushes and the camera was purely to photograph wildlife. Click to return