Google is known for search. Facebook is known for social networks.
What is Yahoo’s main focus?
That’s what one shareholder asked at the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting Wednesday.
It’s a surprisingly tricky question. Over the years, people have struggled to describe exactly what it is that Yahoo does. Even people with money invested don’t fully understand the company.
In 2013, soon after she took the CEO spot, Mayer described Yahoo’s mission as providing the internet “ordered for you.”
But today during the company’s shareholders meeting, Mayer went back to Yahoo’s roots to answer the question.
“Our core focus is to be the guide to the world wide web,” she said on stage.
Before Yahoo became “Yahoo” it was called “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web.” The brainchild of graduate students Jerry Yang and David Filo, the site was nothing more than a collection of links organised by category.
“It’s our heritage, it’s where Yahoo started,” Mayer says. “As digital content becomes richer, as search and mail become richer, we need to change what the format of that guide is, as we move to mobile, wearables, TVs, cars, and all the other formats in the future. So, we’re focused on search, communications, and digital content, all of which we think are incredibly important parts of that role as a guide, and those are the products that we’re investing in and building on.”
Before the Q&A portion of the meeting, Yahoo employees conducted demos showing off new features of its search and mail products, and showed a highlight reel from some of Katie Couric’s best shows.
Not that Yahoo is the only company that stands resolutely behind its 90s mission. Google’s mission is still “organise the world’s information” from its founding back in 1998, even while cofounder and CEO Larry Page admits its probably time for something new.