June 20, 2005 7:55 AM PDT

Google vs. Yahoo: Clash of cultures

A correction was made to this story. Read below for details.
news analysis On the walls of Yahoo's modest Silicon Valley offices there are posters with sketches of oddball inventions that have landed patents, such as a portable bird cage. The point: If a bird cage can get a patent, Yahoo's employees can come up with something big if they put their minds to it.

The posters are promoting a program called the "Idea Factory" that is supposed to goose inventive thinking at the 10-year-old Internet-giant-turned-media-powerhouse. Through Idea Factory, staffers are urged to submit notions for improving everything from the company's products to its campus.

Five miles down the road at offices of archrival Google, inventive thinking is assumed. At Google, engineers are expected to spend one day a week on a project of personal interest. It's a mandate that's spawned new services such as Google News, which now attracts 7.1 million visitors per month, according to Nielsen NetRatings, and the social networking site Orkut, which has yet to be integrated into the search site.

News.context

What's new:
Yahoo and Google are taking different paths in the quest to be king of the hill in the search sector.

Bottom line:
The tug-of-war between the two companies is really a test of what kind of corporate culture an Internet company needs.

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As the two giants tussle for domination of online advertising dollars, it's increasingly clear that this tug-of-war is really a test of what kind of corporate culture an Internet company needs: Is it a by-the-numbers and increasingly Hollywood-savvy environment like Yahoo's? Or can an intellectual playground like Google continue to grow and thrive even as it approaches $4 billion in annual revenue?

The answers to those questions could have a lasting impact on how Internet companies are formed in years to come. If Yahoo comes out on top, investors could insist on a chief executive like Yahoo's Terry Semel, a longtime Warner Bros. executive known for his media savvy and no-nonsense directives. If Google continues its rocket ride, they could look to an Eric Schmidt, a passionate technologist by training and education who is happy to let his engineers steal the limelight.

"Google is...all about individuals fulfilling or exceeding their potential, and employees are given significant license to foster this," said Geoffrey Moore, high-tech guru and author of the popular management tome "Crossing the Chasm." Yahoo used to be like that, Moore says. But under Semel, who took over Yahoo's corner office four years ago, it has morphed into a more mature company with tough management discipline, but perhaps lacking the creative giddiness it had in its early years.

The two companies share a common DNA but are taking divergent paths. Yahoo's co-founders David Filo and Jerry Yang were doctoral candidates in electrical engineering at Stanford University in 1994 when they started work on their first search engine. Two years later, Google's founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin also collaborated as Stanford doctoral candidates on a search engine called BackRub, a predecessor to Google. Page's dorm room was the company's first data center, and the two entrepreneurs even called on their friend Filo for advice before starting Google in 1998.

"The biggest difference right now is Larry and Sergey still run Google, and Terry Semel has a much bigger say at Yahoo," while its co-founders aren't typically involved in day-to-day operations, said Danny Sullivan, editor of Search Engine Watch.com. "Google is still infused with the whole Larry and Sergey spirit, if you will."

It's not just the cultures that clash. The two companies' businesses also are on a collision course, competing for the same Web visitors and advertising dollars. In the last three years, Yahoo has reshaped one of its core businesses around Web search and related advertising, making itself second only to Google in search ad dollars, with technology that many believe is keeping pace with that of its younger rival.

Google--in roughly the same time span--has broadened its business to do something its executives said they didn't want to do: Become a

 

Correction: This story reported a misleading figure for Yahoo's revenue for the first three months of 2005. For that period, the company's revenue was $1.17 billion.

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12 comments

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Elmer Fudd
In my humble opinion, any major league company that lets people get search results in the "language" of "Elmer Fudd" or "Bork, bork bork" or "Pig latin" is doing something right!!!!Sure, it's stupid, sure, its a waste of time perhaps.....but it stays with the same wonderful thought processes that allowed Apple Computers to be created in a garage by a couple of dropouts, that named something we now know as "cookies", and that allowed a vice president to claim to be the "inventor of the internet". There HAS to be, somewhere in that corporate Google structure, a sense of humor that allows employees the creative environment to just CREATE !!! My money is on GOOGLE for sure....just for that if nothing else !!! Wouldnt it be wonderful if our other appliance manufacturers could adopt a sense of humor like that? How bout red ice cubes from your new Side-By-Side Refrigerator?
Posted by momule (17 comments )
Reply Link Flag
WW @ GOOG
It is the wild west at Google. Has been for awhile. It'll be interesting to see how much
longer they go encouraging staff creativity
at near any cost. We tend to concentrate on their long suits which are very long indeed;
I sense Yahoo close on their heels and
smelling very attractive blood in the water.
Posted by malabrm1 (36 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The Yahoo/Google solution !
Here is one solution to the problem.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.gahooyoogle.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.gahooyoogle.com/</a>
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Very cute, C.G.
Well it is. Nonetheless, I still sense blood in the water. There's just too much money chasing too few ad dollars. Whenever this has happnned
previously in modern culture, the strongest
prevail. And in the internet search business,
Lord knows, market cap does not mean the
"strongest."
Posted by malabrm1 (36 comments )
Link Flag
It is remarkable how their results are the same
It is really remarkable how the results of Google &#38; Yahoo are the same!
For example search for:
date
and 90% of results in 1st 3 pages are the same.
This is called choice!
This is really as much as choice as getting your news from NBC or CBS.
Which means NO choice at all.
All you had/have to do was to look at the coverage of BIG US media about Iraq war, same
lies about justification for invading that misreable conutry was delivered by all as if they were one monolitithical source, of course with 1% difference.
I mean if one lessoned to European (non UK) media was like getting a totally different news.
That is what we need: a different source of Search than the same lies out of this 2 other Big US companies called google &#38; yahoo.
The world does not need more CBS, NBC, CNN masquerading as alternative news (information) sources. The world needs real independent information sources.
Edited for SPAM
[Edited by: admin on Jun 21, 2005 11:22 AM]
Posted by Manfred Levy (24 comments )
Link Flag
Dont be brain washed by the Big Media
Dont be brain washed by the Big Media Hoax about google &#38; yahoo. That is as if they are the only search engines, or the best search engines or that Google is a rebel search engine, etc. etc.
Nothing could be further form truth.
Google &#38; Yahoo are owned by the same Wallstreet Silcion Valley VCs, after all same the same VCs
seat on the Board of both companies.
And up to a short while ago Yahoo search results were provided by Google.
To say that Google &#38; Yahoo are real competition, that they represent the real truth, is like saying that CNN and NBC and CBS, etc. are different. Maybe they are different on the 1% margin, but on the core they are all the same, they are about controlling what people think.

However there is a real different search engine, one that is totally not owned by same gang that owes Yahoo &#38; Google, and one that lets the People (that is us) to determine the final search results. And one that also gives its profit away for our benefit.

Edited for spam content.
[Edited by: admin on Jun 21, 2005 11:21 AM]
Posted by Manfred Levy (24 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I'm a Lycos fan, myself
That dog could sell me anything.
Posted by H A R L O (9 comments )
Link Flag
Spammer support is the key indicator.
To distinguish between the styles and directions
at Yahoo and Google, all you have to do is look
at each company's contribution to the spam crisis.

Yahoo Stores is the last great bargain for
"bullet-proof" (complaint-proof) spammer Web hosting
in North America. For fifty bucks a month you get a Web site with a shopping cart, and you can plug it
in spam quite a lot without any interference from Yahoo.

Google doesn't have that problem.

Yahoo is one of the most popular mailbox providers
for the Nigerian advance fee fraud gangs. Watch
your Nigeria spam for a week and notice how many of the president's widows have addresses @yahoo.com.
Sure, Yahoo cuts them off after a week or so, if they get enough complaints, but that's long after
the spammer has collected any responses he's going to get. They might as well leave them up.
Yahoo knows this. They *could* take them down
the same day and the spammers would use somebody else.
But that would cost money and Yahoo's not feeling
any heat about it.

Google doesn't have that problem. Have you *ever*
heard from a Nigerian president's widow with
an address @gmail.com? Even one?

Spammer support is a good overall indicator
of how competently managed an Internet company is.
The #1 spammer support company on the Spamhaus.org
list (MCI) just happens to be the perpetrator of the
biggest stock fraud in history. Enron and
Global Crossing were spammer support superstars
in their day. And where they went, SBC and
Verizon and Comcast are going next. Just watch.

Yahoo smells of rotting spam. Google doesn't.
Posted by clsgis (41 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I think Google is great and is clearly the most important player on the web right now. But I have has this sneaking suspicion that much of Googles leaderships comes from its brand and positioning and not from superior services. So I have resolved to get from my Google addiction and try the rest of the web, starting with the obvious choice, Yahoo.

It seems that yahoo tries harder. They try harder to open and inclusive , of course they have to try harder because they are number two, at least in the mind of web users when it comes to search, and which is the starting point for most everything on the web today.

http://www.marblehost.com/faq.php
Posted by WebHostingFAQ (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
I saw this one too as an example of the comparison of the different sites. I dunno, I personally like the google results but the bing interface. This is the page I was talking about:
http://www.absolutjenius.com/search_compare.html
Posted by trac113 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
So its hard to choice between the too..Because they both as you said offer different things..But i have to say google is a bit simple with somethings..and Yahoo has a nicer news set up but
Posted by MoshpitQueen (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

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