Search pioneer Yahoo has assembled a plethora of its own Web 2.0 acquisitions, from photo sharing Web site Flickr to bookmark site Delicious, into a veritable Web-hosted media empire.
The company also has its own Web 2.0 guru whose mission is to hack Yahoo "for its own good." Bradley Horowitz, vice president of Yahoo's product strategy group, told CNET News.com that he is drawing on his background in yoga, meditation and even punk rock to embark on a spiritual effort to improve the company and its products, one Web-based software application at a time.
Q: Eveyone's talking about Google's acquisition of YouTube. What is going to be Yahoo's response? How can you make Yahoo video get the buzz in traffic that YouTube has?
Horowitz: We've been crafting our response for 10 years. Yahoo has always been about people: It's a company whose very roots are seeped in social media, and so I think in some ways, YouTube is Google's response.
We have very strong hands that we've held for a quite some time, and it's not just Yahoo Video. If you look at social media, broadly defined, it includes things like Flickr photo sharing, Delicious link sharing, Upcoming social events, MyWeb social bookmarks--things like Yahoo Messenger, even, which are about connecting people, or Yahoo groups, a franchise we started long ago about helping people to connect other like-minded people.
So social media, broadly defined, spans a huge number of categories. Our strength is in the network, our ability to leverage across those categories and provide a place for half-a-billion people a month to come and share information, share entertainment and interact.
Might we see a Flickr for video, especially when so many digital cameras shoot video too now?
Horowitz: Well, I'm not going to speculate on anything...but if you look at Yahoo Video today, it's increasingly converging toward the Flickr for video. It's designed for user-generated content. It includes things like tagging. So you will increasingly see Flickr features percolate through everything we do at Yahoo and a lot of those kind of Web 2.0 things, if you will, are not about cloning the site. It's about taking the spirit of what it means for community, and user-generated content, and user tagging, and organizing content, and applying them to all we do.
Do you think Yahoo will be pushing more and more into media, maybe with more into video, and maybe doing more with Hollywood, given (CEO) Terry Semel's ties there?
Horowitz: We already do quite a lot?It is about both the long tail of media--which is user-generated content and things like Flickr--and the relationships we have and the partnerships that we have with the major publishers. Unlike other companies that are in the space, Yahoo prides itself on being able to find win-win relationships for these companies.
Can you discuss Yahoo's strategy with regard to social media and user-generated content?
Horowitz: It's crucial. It's crucial to our past and to our future.
Again, I think what's cool about being at Yahoo (is) that it's not as if there is a bandwagon that we're jumping on, or something that happens this week, or last week, that we need to respond to. This is core to the DNA of the company and has been for a decade.
So yes, it's absolutely crucial. But it's not something that we need to get very reactive about, because it's already baked into who we are and the products that we put to market and the acquisitions that we've done over the years.
What do you think of Yahoo acquiring (social networking site) Facebook? Would that be a good move?
Horowitz: I absolutely have no comment on that. It's not in my purview and what I can say is, generally, Yahoo has always had a willingness to buy, build and partner. We will always continue as a company to look at those alternatives.