Yahoo Execs Tapan Bhat and Ash Patel Talk About Yahoo's Open and Social Launch

Published on December 16, 2008
by Kara Swisher

Here’s a video interview I did yesterday at the San Francisco event where Yahoo finally launched a lot of the new open and social elements that it has long said it was injecting into its most popular products.

BoomTown talked with the key movers of the initiatives: Ash Patel, Yahoo’s EVP of its Audience Product Division, and Tapan Bhat, its SVP of its Front Doors, Communities and Network Services.

(You can see screen shots and an official Yahoo video of the new features here.)

The initiatives Yahoo (YHOO) finally released into the wild have been long in the making, first discussed as just vaporware by Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang at last year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (see that video below too).

Yahoo also hosted a session at its Sunnyvale HQ about its open plans in the fall.

And, after the longest of gestation periods, they arrived yesterday, in an impressive rollout.

The changes include some very deft rejiggering of Yahoo Mail, called a “smarter inbox,” with a new dashboard welcome page, easier ways to make connections, more filtered views, updates and third-party apps integrated into the application.

I thought the changes to the mail product were the most interesting, especially given the hundreds of millions of people using the product. It’s an interesting choice for a social entry point, aiming to give nonsocial-networking types enough of a taste of it without inundating them.

Of particular note were the third-party applications, such as for WordPress and Flickr, that launch nicely right in the email program.

Also cool was one app from Xoopit that surfaces old photos and photo links lost in the musty archives of old emails.

Yahoo also debuted an enhanced version of the homepage (previously announced in September) and My Yahoo, as well as a new toolbar and socialization elements added to its popular media properties.

It remains to be seen how popular these changes will become, especially since many consumers already have their social-networking lives on Facebook or MySpace.

In addition, both Time Warner (TWX) online unit AOL and Microsoft (MSFT) have rolled out similar social and open changes to their sites recently, making it super-confusing for everyone.

But, better late than never, I always say, so here’s Bhat and Patel talking about Yahoo’s new stuff.

I had to load the video onto YouTube, as Brightcove had snafus (also below is Yang talking about the concepts at CES in January 2008):

Tapan Bhat and Ash Patel

Jerry Yang at January 2008 CES

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