Yesterday the internet was inundated with the surprising news of Marissa Mayer being appointed as the new CEO of Yahoo. Obviously, this is a great move for Yahoo. Mayer is not only one of the brightest tech executives in the Valley but has developed an impeccable reputation for being a product focused person which is a skill that might result vital for the new Yahoo. However, Yahoo’s problems are far from over.
Without presuming to understand all the complexities of Yahoo’s situation, I think I can trace its roots to a very simple factor: missing all the important technology waves in the last few years. In the software industry, successful companies are built by taking advantage of new technology waves. The PC and the internet eras are some of the most relevant examples of technology movements that gave birth to dozens of software empires. The interesting thing about technology waves is that they are not totally independent, one waves takes you to the one.
Based on this phenomenon, a lead technology company MUST always try to establish a presence in the different technology waves even if is not a leading one. On some of those waves they will be able to lead on some of them they will be the underdog but, undoubtedly, all of them will put them in position to catch the next wave. We see all the time: Microsoft launching Windows Phone to compete in mobile, Google announcing Google+ to compete in social, Apple launching ICloud or Faceboox exploring a Facebook phone. None of these technologies are the market leader in the space. However, they offer Apple, Google, Microsoft or Facebook the opportunity of establishing a secondary presence in specific technology areas that will help them to identify new spaces. Missing a single technology wave makes it incredibly hard to compete in future tech cycles, missing four makes it almost impossible.
This phenomenon is very different for Yahoo. When you look at the internet giant, you will quickly realize that Yahoo has managed to miss the last four technology waves that are having the deepest impact in the software industry: social, mobile, local and cloud. Having minimum or no presence on all of those spaces makes it extremely hard for Yahoo to stay relevant and to innovate in the current market.
In my opinion that represents one of the biggest challenges for Mayer: help Yahoo to catch the next wave.
What do you think?