- 1. Lack of Product Leadership
Google (GOOG) had search. Apple (AAPL) had the Mac. Yahoo! has always had a collection of multiple products, and that has been a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing because -- unlike AOL, which had just the dial-up business -- Yahoo! has always had multiple revenue streams that were mutually reinforcing (e.g., home page, Finance, Mail, Search). It's never been a one-trick pony. But the multiple products are a curse because, from Yahoo!'s founding, the company has had its fingers in a lot of pies, and that has hindered it from developing a corporate focus. Through Bubble 1.0 and Bubble 2.0, the Yahoo! M&A machine was always humming to suck up venture-backed firms at healthy valuations. Integrating them cohesively was a different story and left a string of disparate businesses under the Yahoo! roof. Several former Yahoo! employees complained about the lack of vision and the lack of product leadership from the top executives to string all the pieces together. Said one, "I always wanted to know 'what's our North Star?'" They felt that there was a lack of focus from the executive team about what Yahoo! did that created value and what it should be moving toward to better create more value. In their views, the next CEO needs to be great at products. The core of Yahoo! is a great user experience and great products. Discussions about undertaking a search deal with Microsoft (MSFT), spinning off Asian assets, and closing the revenue-per-search gap with Google are secondary.