Yahoo, the once-mighty torch beareer for the Internet age, is shaking up it business strategies even as the company is bedevilled by jobcuts, takeover speculation and a fall in share prices.
Speaking at the Web 2.0 conference on Tuesday Yahoo executives pledged they will restore the “wow” factor in their products, which seems to have deserted the company for some time now.
The move comes even as the company is rumored to have begun notifying workers of planned job cuts within the next 60 days.
A decade ago, Yahoo was the darling of the Wall Street and a benchmark for internet companies' popularity. Today, it is just the opposite.
However, Yahoo is trying hard to change that perception. On Tuesday, its leadership tried hard to show that the company will manage to retain an important role in the internet's future.
“Yahoo is investing in products that make people go, 'Wow! From Yahoo?' , said Blake Irving, Yahoo's new chief product officer, at a breakfast meeting with tech journalists on Tuesday.
He also said his focus has been to create a culture that is safe for innovating, and that those wow products would start to arrive from Yahoo next year.
People will see more rolling thunder and a drumbeat of constant innovation from us,” said Irving.
There have been rumors of a possible merger with AOL with its stock closing at $16.24 on Tuesday, lower than at the start of 2010. Also its executive ranks have seen a number of prominent departures.
Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz declined to address those rumors but suggested that Yahoo's image problems are much less of an issue outside the nation's technology and financial centers.
When you get 30 miles outside of Silicon Valley and 60 miles outside of New York City, everybody knows what we stand for, said Bartz.
Yahoo also announced a few new products at the influential Internet conference, including a local deals partnership with the fast-growing Internet discount broker Groupon, access to social gaming company Zynga and other social media companies, and several search features .
The Sunnyvale Internet portal said on Tuesday Yahoo’s 'Local Offers' program will aggregate online deals and coupons offered by Groupon and 19 other partners.
“The service should be popular with consumers because it will aggregate deals from many different websites in one place and is part of an effort that may indicate Yahoo is headed for better times,” said Karsten Weide, an analyst with the research firm IDC who follows the company.
According to Bartz, one less-visible effort has been to centralize the large amounts of data that Yahoo holds about its users, but that in the past were siloed in different Yahoo products like Finance, Sports or Search.
Has (Yahoo) had a couple rough years? Sure, but I don't think you're really tested as a person or as a company unless you've had some tough times. Companies get tough and pick themselves up when they face some tough challenges,” said Bartz.