Chief Yahoo Chief Officer no more: Yang is Out

November 18, 2008

YahooTonight, every tech-savvy news organization worth its salt is reporting that Jerry Yang is stepping down as CEO of Yahoo!  I don’t think anyone is surprised, but who, or what will it take to save Yahoo?

Whoever is chosen to replace Yang as CEO has a monumental task ahead. But they also step into a great opportunity. For all its troubles, Yahoo! is still one of the most trafficked sites on the web with billions of page views a month. There are great partnerships in place, and some great content on the portal; which is heavy on user engagement through integrated applications.  There’s a solid foundation and a great opportunity, but it’ll take guts and courage to find gold in these tech mountains.

What Yahoo Should Do

I’ve long thought is crazy for Yahoo! to keep trying to take on Google in Search.  Google is Search, face it (for now). Yahoo’s advantage is content and the ability to drive its mass user base to new applications (through the portal), something Google still struggles to do.  So, here’s what I would do if I was leading the Yahooligans:

1. Concentrate on the content! Movies, Music, games, applications.

2. Let people use Google to search for the what they looking for (above)…the stuff that lives at Yahoo!

3. Integrate people’s favorites around the Yahoo portal, just like today. I log in once and can get all my goodies.

4. Use the Social Graph to let people share their stuff everywhere – MySpace, FB, OpenSocial.

5. Concentrate on making everything as accessible on mobile.

6. Center the ad network around 360-degree targeted advertising on all properties. Buy a campaign and your ad could end up being displayed to 18-34 yr old makes on the games, video, music pages, and applications they like.

7. Let developers develop on your platform and extend your apps.

Yahoo! has already been doing some of this stuff, but it hasn’t been an integrated, mission-driven effort. It’s been throw a dart and hope it sticks. If the person that steps in the top job isn’t new to the company than I don’t expect great things. It needs to be an non-Yahoo! with vision, guts, and leadership.

It’s go for broke time and a bet on content, reach, and integrated advertising leveraging Yahoo’s strength is a good bet.  I think so anyway, but it’s easier said then done.

Good luck to you future CEO. Be bold. Be innovative. Make us all say Yahoo! again.


Obama’s Message: The Web Kids are in Charge

November 6, 2008

change_badge1Tuesday November 4, 2008. A day that will go down in history. A man captured the imagination and hope of a nation to become the 44th President on the United States. A man who will be the first president of our generation that is not a baby boomer. His military reference is not Vietnam. The face of emerging America; he’s young, educated, socially conscious, and a minority. Amazing, the 44th president is an African American. Even more, he knows, respects, and loves the Web. He marks the day the web kids took over.

Barack Obama used technology like no one before him. BarackObama.com was launched very early in the Democratic Nomination campaign and it isn’t just a website. Others before him used the web to tell their story and raise money. Obama? He understood the power of the social web. BarackObama.com isn’t a website, it’s a social destination. A place you can get information, read blogs, watch Barack TV, connect on Facebook, MySpace or sign-up and have your own account on my.barackobama.com. You can even get music. Ya, that’s right, music from a once hopeful, and now next President.

Here’s the scorecard:

obama_scorecard

Why this Matters

Exit polls showed that Obama captured the vote of blacks, Hispanics, 18-34 year olds and new voters. He also won the female vote. Safe to say that it isn’t the baby boomers that pushed him to the White House, it’s us, the web kids.

When Clinton won the Oval Office in the 90s the web was a young dreamer. When W won in 2000 it was starting to blossom (Google had just recently launched). In 2004, Blogs were few and YouTube, Facebook, and MySpace weren’t household names. It’s 2008, the web has grown and our generation has grown with it. It’s a part of our lives. We don’t seek to understand technology, it’s native to us. We grew up with it and can’t imagine life without it. Obama understands this because when the web was getting started in 1994 he was 30 years old.

It’s our generation (Gen Y, Millenniums, Net Geners, whatever) that are starting to shape the world and Barack Obama is the first president that understands. He’s promised to use the same technology channels that brought him to power while in power. The White House is connected.

Will Things Change?

Call me a hopeful cynic. Many (if not all) promises made during an election fall apart once elected. Wahsinton D.C. is a complex place with competing agendas, lobby groups, and pressure to maintain the status quo. Will Obama grab hold of the opportunity to really deliver change? Will he challenge existing norms and the military industrial complex and work towards a more just society and world? Although Obama has some great advisors (Dr. Jeffrey Sachs for example), he also has a lot of the same old faces around him (Podesta, Volcker, Ross, possibly Indyk). The presidency is bigger than one man and it will take a real champion to continue to challenge the norms and deliver real change. I’m hopeful but I’m realistic. It sounds impossible.

But then again, a black president brought to office by a young, mobilized, and technically connected group was once impossible. It’s your show Barack and the web kids are watching.


Great Book: Grownup Digital

November 4, 2008

picture-1

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a book signing for Grownup Digital, the brand spankin’ new book by guru Don Tapscott. Great night, great book.

Don spoke about how today’s generation (he calls them Net Gen, other say Gen Y or Millenium…I’m part of this group and I don’t care what they call us) have been groomed as a result of native exposure to technology (i.e. we grew up with it, we didn’t discover it later). For Grownup Digital, Don completed a $4 million study on the Net generation.

There’s also a great community where you can learn all about the book (and buy it!), sample a chapter, and read some pretty informative stuff at grownpdigital.com. Here’s how the book is described on the About page, and Don on YouTube:

Poised to transform every social institution, the Net Generation is reshaping the form and functions of school, work, and even democracy. Simply put, the wave of youth, aged 12-30, the first truly global generation, is impacting all institutions. Particularly, employers, instructors, parents, marketers and political leaders are finding it necessary to adapt to the changing social fabric due to this generation’s unique characteristics. Within its comprehensive examination of the Net Generation, and based on a 4.5 million dollar study, Don Tapscott’s Grown Up Digital offers valuable insight and concrete takeaways for leaders across all social institutions.

Grown Up Digital explores:

How the Net Generation can be the most innovative, collaborative, and productive cohort, if given the proper working environment. From company ethic to leadership style, Grown Up Digital examines, in-depth, what this new organization will look like.

The benefits of a shift from a traditional, broadcast model of education to one that is customized, collaborative and interactive

How the Net Generation’s ability to scrutinize and investigate is forcing a new model of democracy that will have to be transparent, collaborative and engaging

How parents, teachers, and elder influencers can engage in open and informative discussions to ensure technology is properly used

How marketers no longer control their brands and how to cope with this power shift that affords the advantage to the consumer.

I’m from the Net generation (and so is everyone at Sensidea), so I live and breath digital. Don has a great sense, and amazing research on how the world will undoubtedly continue to change as my generation takes over.

Here’s Don on YouTube talking about the book

Great work Don!


What Can I Say? We’re Back!

November 4, 2008

It’s been more than a few months since I’ve blogged. Some of my friends in the blogosphere know the family health issues we’ve been dealing with and all the support you’ve given is greatly appreciated. Thanks for your patience and understanding…now back to the blog!

Lots has happened in the past few months, and all the big stories are now old news. Instead of going back and giving our views (we have a lot) on what’s gone on in the past few months we’ll do what we do best – look forward.

At Digital U, we don’t just re-tell the stories of the day. You can get those from a lot of great blogs (Techcrunch, ReadWriteWeb, VentureBeat, Mashable, etc.). Instead, we’ll give our view about whats going on, how it relates to business or life, and sometimes profile a cool company or two we come across.

So, thanks for sticking around. Let’s Get Digital.