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2.0 out of 5 stars The Yahoo way to expanding a search engine with unlimited $s, 19 Mar 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Business the Yahoo Way: Secrets of the Worlds Most Popular Internet Company (Big Shots Series) (Paperback)
I have reviewed this book for the readers of the Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development who are either in research or practitioners who might recommend the book on a reading list for an entrepreneurship programme at undergraduate or masters level.
I would describe the book as one you buy at Heathrow for a flight to the States because it is headed "The Yahoo Way". It's a good read about how investing unlimited funds in a business can allow a myriad of spin-offs even when conventional wisdom might say "hold on - who is paying for this?"
The story of how two academics Jerry Yang and David Filo from Stanford University who used their Intellectual property in 1993 to compile a directory of favourite web sites, and took the company into being one of the iconoclastic first dot coms is of great interest. To be valued at $3.12billion (Yang) and $3.05 billion (Filo) within 7 years is to be the ultimate entrepreneurial success story, or is it?
The euphoria of the book is to have a great ride on the Internet tidal wave. The impression is that if any business had been as far seeing as Yahoo then they could have done the same. Quote "by August 2000 Nielsen/Net Ratings' first ever global internet crowns Yahoo! As the top Web property in the world with a unique audience totalling more than 62 million users".
Given the stock-market crashing in March 2001 on the broken backs of dot com businesses, with Yahoo getting the same down-rating as other net innovators businesses perhaps the market is ready for a companion edition of this book. This book would explore what created the Yahoo phenomena was unlimited capital available from venture capitalists and the global banking industry. Cleverly for the Banks the "jump on the money making bandwagon" was so successful that the financial support for dot coms came through individual shareholders buying shares from Banks rather than raiding bank assets. The real story not told in the book is the funding of the E-business industry, and the fact that one-day the bubble had to burst.
The "Business the Yahoo Way" is therefore very interesting in tracking what two academics, with the financial and marketing advisers, can achieve if money is no object to the growth and development of a business.
What is Yahoo - basically it is a search engine, a clever piece of software that enables you to find anything on the web, or anything registered with that search engine on the web. Yahoo was the first and easiest to navigate for new users of the Internet. Now Yahoo even uses an outsourced search engine (Google) for this function, presumably because it is superior to its own.
The chapter headings provide a guide to the type of contents in the book. The chapter titles are, "Understand the medium and its Message", "People over technology, Community over Computers", Build Global Communities in the Global Village", "Give Users Plenty of Reasons for Repeat Visits", "Partner with the Best", "Buy What You Need", "Brand It", "Promote the Hell Out of It", "Create a Dynamic Corporate Culture" and "Stay Paranoid". The Chapters provide an interesting insight into vast number of services that can be offered to extend usage.
The final gasp of the book discusses the future of Yahoo. Motley Fool, a top Internet Investor web site backs Yahoo as one of their favourites for 5 key reasons, explosive growth, dominant leadership position, strong cash flow, flawless execution of its business model, expanding possibilities and focus. In fact the business model has proved highly flawed - unless get rich quick and get out before it goes under was the strategy.
This book is not a text for good practice in management. Little in the book gives any insight into the thinking of Yang and Filo, save a few quotes from upbeat press releases. It would be interesting to know if they or their Bankers have done a SWOT analysis, or looked at Porters Model or employed any other techniques. It does not appear so.
For a few short years everybody might have been thinking that Yahoo and dot com businesses were re-writing the conventional wisdoms of management strategy. But a change of heart since this book was published is bringing everybody back down to earth. A good textbook in the future will perhaps separate the Yahoo hype from the conditions in the financial market place that allowed the hype to be funded in billions. The same textbook will also examine the history of advertising revenues and why a high proportion became diverted into banner headlines.
Out of the ashes - for latest pundits want Yahoo to abandon its idealist strategy of going it alone, and to be taken over by a real business with products and assets - comes a new way of life. Yahoo and Amazon have popularised usage of the web, boosted the sales of PCs with Internet access, and spawned Call Centres using the new technology, and created a new way of doing business. This book rightly glorifies the phenomena.
It's a good read on a plane and was not intended to be a text book in the University library for researchers and students looking for a profound understanding of how, what, why and when created Yahoo. It was written by journalists to feed the great interest in such books on success stories of household names.
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