Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Yahoo Content Model Gets Remixed as Product Development Is "Globally" Centralized


Will Yahoo’s media properties fall flat with sweeping new changes that are afoot that will drastically change the way the company bakes its content offerings?

Or will the ability to have a single, highly scaleable, centrally developed architecture make the media programming Yahoo delivers more responsive and flexible in the era of fast-twitch bloggers (all while cutting costs)?

According to many sources inside and outside the company, product development for Yahoo’s heavily trafficked media operations–including its powerful News, Finance and Sports sites–is set to be moved under Ash Patel, who is EVP of the company’s Audience Product Division.

The move has been supported by U.S. Audience head Jeff Dossett, who came to Yahoo (YHOO) from Microsoft (MSFT). He replaced former media head Scott Moore, who is about to take over content efforts at Microsoft.

The centralization of product development for the media properties was much resisted by Moore and by many managers within Yahoo’s media group, who are worried and unhappy about the upcoming change.

Sources told BoomTown that it is one of many changes coming to the unit, which is likely to soon get a dramatic management restructuring too.

Under the new configuration, which sources said had been approved by CEO Carol Bartz, media products–but not editorial programming–will be developed “globally” at Yahoo’s Sunnyvale HQ in Northern California.

Until now, such development has been mostly done by individual media properties, many of which are located down south, in Santa Monica.

But a move to global product and platform development has been steady at Yahoo for a while. The move to change how media are made was initially championed by former President Sue Decker, but has continued to move forward after she announced in January that she planned to leave the company.

As with most things, there are pros and cons to the new approach.

The pro argument posits that centralizing the product development of a Yahoo media offering drives efficiencies, saves money, eliminates redundancies and accelerates growth across the world.

Said one on-the-bandwagon exec to me in an email: “This is a good and smart plan to achieve better balance between the benefits of a globally scalable product development and the need for regions to be very close to and responsive to local user and advertiser needs…there is huge upside (in user engagement and monetization) that will come from a deeper focus on editorial, content (original and licensed) and programming within the properties and most importantly across the network.”

Those who do not like the idea think it is wrong to separate the development of a product from the programming because the two are intricately dependent and need to be tweaked delicately.

In addition, they argue, it makes Yahoo media offerings, which have been largely successful, less unique and more dull.


“It’s like separating the cook from the recipe and ingredients,” said one person who thinks that it’s very hard to separate product from the content online. “You could end up with a really bad cake.”

Translation: I don’t think that I can take it/’Cause it took so long to bake it/And I’ll never have that recipe again.

Whatever the case for Yahoo’s media properties, I think we can all completely agree that this Donna Summers rendition of “MacArthur Park” remains as fresh and delicious as ever (plus it’s a karaoke video version, so feel free to sing along):

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Nobody was excited about paying top dollar for a movie about WikiLeaks. A film about the origins of Pets.com would have done better.

— Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”