Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Today’s Probably the Wrong Day for Yahoo to Launch a Big Animated Series From Tom Hanks

Here’s the way today was supposed to play out for the PR people at Yahoo: We were all going to talk about “Electric City,” the new animated series it had created with Tom Hanks.

But then things changed.

So here’s the question: Now that Yahoo’s board has decided it wants a product person running the company, not a media person, will Yahoo keep spending time and money on this kind of thing?

Because they certainly could.

Swapping out Ross Levinsohn for Marissa Mayer doesn’t mean Yahoo can’t do deals with Hollywood stars for exclusive videos and “immersive and interactive online experiences.” And it doesn’t mean they can’t cut deals like the one Levinsohn and his team have been making with Spotify, Clear Channel, ABC, etc.

In fact, Yahoo had been doing that kind of thing long before Levinsohn got there. It’s just that he was particularly interested in them, because he thought the best chance to revive the company was to marry its big set of eyeballs with a lot of other people’s content — and to do a bunch of behind-the-scenes stuff designed to generate more money from all of those eyeballs, by revamping its sales strategy and technology.

And, in theory, Mayer could keep doing all of that — in addition to overhauling the now-decimated Yahoo product team.

But I don’t know of many CEOs who come to a troubled company and vow to keep doing what their predecessors were doing.

So this series, which runs in five-minute chunks for 90 minutes over three days, probably ends up in the “things Yahoo used to do” time capsule. More here.


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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google