If Carol Bartz Isn't Careful, She'll Sink Yahoo Search

carol bartz tbi

Sure, for the sake of press and buzz, she sometimes forces too many F-bombs into conversations where they don’t belong, but generally, we like the way new-ish Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz handles interviews and presents Yahoo to the public.

Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan does not. In a post titled “Bartz Continues Torpedoing Yahoo Search,” he writes that if Carol isn’t careful, she’s going to permanently stunt Yahoo’s search business, and give momentum to Microsoft.

He has five specific complaints. They are:

Carol keeps saying Yahoo is not a search engine. At the All Things D conference Carol defined Yahoo as “the place where people find relevant contextual information about things they care about.” The last time Yahoo insisted it wasn’t a search engine was 2004, when it called itself a “life engine.” That didn’t work out very well.

Carol keeps saying Yahoo doesn’t want to be search, because it wants to be more personal than Google. But Google is very personal, writes Danny, citing Google’s personalised web search results, personalised news and personalised home pages.

Calling Yahoo “more than a search engine” leaves an opening for Microsoft to make Bing the only Google alternative. Microsoft is spending $80 million to present itself as a rival to Google for a reason. So why Carol is suddenly trying to convince everyone Yahoo isn’t a Google rival. Ask tried that a year ago, and look where they are now.

Carol sounds like she wants Yahoo to keep its 20% market share, not grow it. Carol told Fox Business yesterday,”20 per cent is a meaningful share. And we’re very happy to have that, and we think we have the technology to keep it.”

Carol describes Yahoo Search as only something for people already using Yahoo.com.Yesterday, she also told Fox Business News “[Yahoo Search] is really designed for people that are on our sites and find something interesting, they want to look farther and they go to Yahoo Search.” This drives Danny nuts:

Seriously, how demoralizing for those remaining in Yahoo Search to hear from the top that they’re not competing to pull people away from Google. It’s just something that gets used when they’re already at Yahoo to play games, check their stocks, see news or some other products that I gather Bartz thinks are more compelling.

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