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All posts tagged Yahoo!

Location And Foursquare Are Hot News Again…

Just last week Foursquare announced a $15 million investment from Microsoft with the intent of Bing and other services leveraging the incredible added value of Foursquare’s check-in database.

Now we are reading in Recode about Marissa Mayer’s bid for Yahoo to utilize Yelp reviews for similar purposes by licensing their content.

Just to segue momentarily, I began writing this post before these pieces of news came along and forced me to sit and rethink my perception of the subject (but only slightly). That said this resulted in some major rewriting and ummm challenge of having predictions proven right before I could finish and post the darn thing.

So What?

Looking at the post on Foursquare’s blog announcing the news there are some key pieces of information to be digested:

“…60,000,000 entries and 5,000,000,000 check-ins” is an incredible measure of success and the Microsoft investment speaks volumes about how the data behind all these check-ins will contribute to Windows and Windows Phone apps and services.

I’ve postulated in the past that Foursquare is the source of consumer behavioral / business intelligence just waiting to be analyzed but putting that aside for a moment the key phrase in Foursquare’s blog post announcing Microsoft’s investment is “contextually aware experiences”.

What does context mean in terms of information and content from applications like Yelp and Foursquare?

Yelp - logo - foursquareFoursquare - logo

Context, context, context!

So, what does context mean with regard to location and check-ins?

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We can classify check-ins according to: –

  • Location Name.
  • Type.
  • Expected Activity.
  • Expected Duration (a function of Expected Activity).
  • Habitual (or not).
  • Recommendation: explicit when a user adds a strong comment, implicit when they are a frequent or habitual check-in or the Mayor in Foursquare’s case.

Does context simply mean this or is there another layer of data and usage just waiting for Yahoo or Microsoft to take advantage of?

The Warptest POV

Referring back to my segue about having to rewrite this post, I was hurriedly finishing up my post when a post in Twitter on my split screen caught my eye on the Verge about Project Cortana on Windows Phone using Foursquare. The phrase I was writing before I read this post was that “contextually aware services will evolve the Smartphone into the Intelligent Phone” at this point though I decided to pour myself a single malt and not get frustrated at being beaten to the punch three times on one post.

Whether the rumor of the voice activated, interactive Cortana “AI” is correct or not, the evolution of Location and Check-Ins is here. Whether Microsoft and Yahoo attack this in the same direction or not we’ll have to wait and see.

IMHO “contextually aware services” should be aiming for these kind of cases. If I check-in at a coffee-shop then unless I habitually take meetings there (and share that) the expectation is I’ll be there for coffee and maybe a bite to eat; especially if this the coffee shop I use en route to my “I’m at work” check-in. In a nutshell, context should allow us to realize how long based on location someone is expected to be there before they actually check-out.

Context also needs to offer greater monetization opportunities: If I check-in every day at the start of my run and mention a brand of running shoe (or even if I don’t) then a smart sports store nearby could follow me, extrapolate based on average run time / distance the wear on my shoes and after several months offer me a discount coupon for a new pair of running shoes.

notification - foursquaree-coupons - foursquare

Even simpler is the idea of e-coupons for whatever retail outlet you check-in: the moment a habitual (read loyal) customer checks-in the e-coupons should appear in a notification.

This is the “evolution of
the Smartphone into the Intelligent Phone”. Having Cortana deliver this to me intuitively and automatically will make it so.

At the end of the day winning in Locational Social Mobile will not just depend on which data provider the content discovery and services build on but on the added value they offer as a result. A big question is but how will Yahoo compete on Mobile Services and Apps not just in browser search?

Are you ready to check-in?

Marissa Mayer

Marissa Mayer CEO of Yahoo! …

… Is being castigated for her decision to end a work from home policy for Yahoo employees.

Marissa Mayer

Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo via Yahoo News

I saw the story from Huffington Post by Lisa Belkin earlier today via friends on Facebook and I’m watching this trend with interest.


…the one place this isn’t trending is on Yahoo‘s newly revamped homepage.

At first glance this kind of story inspires total and utter outrage; especially, if you have ever benefitted from a company who allows or encourages work from home as a policy.

Interestingly Enough …

…The only major change at Yahoo! Since Marissa Mayer took the reins is this revamped homepage:

yahoo homepage

The revamped Yahoo homepage

Most likely in banning work from home at Yahoo! many employees who have until now relied on this policy to make a crust will be forced to look elsewhere.

Mayer has promoted a workforce reduction / cost cutting on salaries, benefits, health care et cetera without being the CEO who actively gutted the personnel roster of the company.

Is this all just linkbait?

Are We Missing The Point?

To be fair to Marissa Mayer she is sitting in the CEO’s office with access to data and statistics that we simply don’t have. She has made a tough decision one assumes based on that knowledge.

Yahoo seems stuck in place and if it has grown as large and unwieldy as it is rumored then this may be a sound strategy for encouraging streamlining and not a mass firing.

Did Mayer look at all the metrics and decide that work at home was not producing sound results? The HR memo cites the benefits of impromptu water-cooler / corridor meetings. The truth is simply allowing work at home without implementing a sound policy of what meetings have to be face to face, what tools have to be used and or what level of productivity is expected of a 100% work at home employee is setting yourself and this policy up to fail.

Yahoo has allowed this policy forever and yet one would expect that they and not Google’s Google+ or Skype (paid version) would be the forerunners of group video chat. This is a tool that should have been developed in-house (for internal use based on NEED way before Google Hangouts or Skype Group Calls) and then released to Yahoo Mail / Messenger users. Nutshell: Missed opportunity.

Marissa Mayer may have made a very tough decision to bite the bullet and set Yahoo on a path to becoming a leaner company where face-time drives innovation and the employees who simply cannot comply with this ban on work from home are at this moment updating their resumes.

The Warptest POV

On the face of it this is an harsh decision that simply does not factor individual employees personal situations or contributions to the company. It seems to speak to a disconnect between upper management and those employees who have no choice due to personal situation but to work a portion of their time from home.

Productivity and innovation are not always inspired by long work hours in the cube farm or increasingly tough changes to work conditions. You want your employees happily focused on work, feeling creative and driven unless you are the King of Sparta.

Whilst I believe that Marissa Mayer has more to show us than this decision in reshaping Yahoo, I would be more impressed if there were whispers of unveiling a dramatic new direction for Yahoo beyond homepage redesign with continuous scroll.

Maybe we are in for a surprise at Mobile World Congress or SXSW but for now what I’m seeing is corporate strategy and I hope that there more than this ahead for Yahoo.