Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

What Will Marissa Do?: Here’s Yahoo’s 2011 Three-Year, 21-Page Product Strategy Plan That Reads a Lot Like Mayer’s New Vision

As most readers know, I love a good internal memo from Yahoo — and now I have landed a really meaty one.

It’s the “Yahoo! Three-Year Product Strategy” plan, a 21-page report that was completed in mid-2011 by a team headed by former product head Blake Irving.

While it is a year old — and five CEOs ago (no, really) — it’s an important read since it tracks closely to the strategic vision that Yahoo’s latest CEO Marissa Mayer discussed earlier this week at an all-hands employee meeting and, according to sources, is very similar to one she seems to be pursuing.

That includes a focus on personalization, mobile, social, improving Yahoo’s advertising tech platforms and more.

And here’s the centerpiece of goals — called “Five Strategic Elements” — from the Irving memo:

1. Infuse deep personalization using science and data into every consumer and advertising experience we build.

2. Delight our customers with best-in-class products, iterating frequently for constant improvement.

3. Build for connected devices first with localized, in-context, multi-screen experiences in mind.

4. Power real social relationships with features that enable 1:few conversations around content.

5. Build a digital media ecosystem that creates a premium marketplace for advertising and content and distributes Yahoo! experiences across the Web.

Sound familiar?

In fact, at the event’s Q&A part yesterday, one staffer specifically pointed out that her broad presentation to employees sounded a lot like the one Irving had proposed the year before.

Since that was never truly implemented, due to never-ending management crises, the obvious question was asked: “Why would things be different this time?”

Mayer answered that the execution against that strategy wasn’t good and she would have a better model to pull it off.

The memo, embedded in its entirety below, is really instructive to use as a possible roadmap, outlining Yahoo’s challenges, as well as the competitive landscape.

Noted the report, quite clearly: “Yahoo! does not have an audience problem, as we are growing on pace with the Internet. Yahoo! does, however, have an engagement problem, as our share of time spent is flat, relative to our competitors.”

It’s aim is to fix that by building the “One Yahoo! experience, in which each of our current and future products fortifies the whole.”

Easier said than done, especially in building up its ad tech business, as the report adds, zeroing in on its most potent rival:

“To defend and grow our share of the premium advertising market, Yahoo! must continue investing to reach parity where necessary and achieve sustainable differentiation against Google with our premium marketplace and technology stack.”

There’s a lot more than that, so dig in to the document, which suggest a whole lot of spending to turn around Yahoo.

Since Mayer is well on her way in that department — including bouncing CFO Tim Morse, who was very bottom-line wary — more on that, next!

You must now download the full report here, which was removed from DocStoc here after a takedown request from Yahoo’s lawyers.

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