Yahoo In Retrenchment Again
Written by Sue Gee   
Saturday, 20 February 2016

Yahoo held its annual Mobile Developer Conference yesterday and unveiled an updated version of Flurry, its mobile analytics platform . However delegates were warned of a gloomy outlook for mobile in the coming year which can be considered a reflection of Yahoo's own troubled future.


Mobile is one of Yahoo's key areas and in view of the fact that Flurry now supports over 250,000 developers, Yahoo has redesigned the Flurry Web dashboard. It now has a flatter look aimed to provide a:

“faster, more intuitive way to view data.”

The updated Flurry also adds analytics support for tvOS app and will let developers serve ads directly and manage the trafficking, targeting and tracking of ad campaigns. Currently an opt-in for existing users, the new look will roll out gradually over the next few months.


In addition there's a new Flurry Analytics app for iOS and Android that provides a mobile dashboard.


Flurry and the release of a tvOS developer kit was the upbeat aspect of the conference. In the second keynote, Simon Khalaf, Yahoo’s senior vice president of publishing products, warned developers of the slowdown in the mobile space calling 2016 "a year of pause and reflection".  In forecasting a difficult year signalling the end of "mobile 1.0 he drew parallels between mobile and web arguing:

"It’s the seventh year, and there’s something about the number 7. With Web 1.0, it was the crash, so everyone is jittery end of mobile 1.0.

In the next year, we’re going to see mobile 2.0, like the same with how Web 1.0 crashed and the movement of Web 2.0 a few years later."

Khalef's pessimism must be heightened by his position in the company. On Wednesday Yahoo's plan to phase out all but four of its digital content channels had been announced. Yahoo Tech is getting the axe although some its staff, including former New York Times columnist and originator of the Missing Manuals series David Pogue is moving to Yahoo News.

These cuts are the first of many. In its recent earnings call, Yahoo revealed plans to cut its workforce by 15% - around 1,600 employees by the end of the year. The company is facing worse than a slow down. Based on "confidential internal data", subscription website The reported: 

Daily active users going to Yahoo’s home page fell 16.5% between the first week of December 2014 and the same period in 2015, the data show, while those going to Yahoo Mail dropped by 11.5%. The same metric for Yahoo Search fell 8.8%. In each case, time spent by users dropped by an even greater proportion, suggesting Yahoo is losing some of its more-engaged users.

Yahoo Labs is another a victim of the cuts as revealed in a Tumbler post by Yoelle Maarek who reports that both Yahoo’s Chief Scientist, Ron Brachman, and VP of Research Ricardo Baeza-Yates, will be leaving the company and that going forward: 

Our new approach is to integrate research teams directly into our product teams in order to produce innovation that will drive excellence in those product areas. We will also have an independent research team that will work autonomously or in partnership with product partners. The integrated and independent teams, as a whole, will be known as Yahoo Research.

Maarek, formerly VP  of Research now becomes leader of Yahoo Research.

To anyone who has followed the story of research at Yahoo there will be a sense of deja vu. Back in 2012 Yahoo laid off many of its research team, many of whom found a new home with Microsoft. It was Marissa Meyer who in the following year recruited a substantial number of PhDs to Yahoo Labs which initiated some interesting projects. Indeed only last month Yahoo Labs released the largest ever set of data to be made available for general use. 

Back in 2013, I wrote:

If Marissa Mayer can manage to put research at the heart of the business, Yahoo might experience a real resurgence of fortune.

Now it seems that is not going to happen and that the writing is on the wall for all of Yahoo.



More Information

Introducing the all new Flurry Analytics

Focusing Our Digital Content Efforts 

Yahoo's New Research Model

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Yahoo Releases Record Machine Learning Dataset 


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Last Updated ( Saturday, 20 February 2016 )