Tag Archives: yahoo

Full-Time Dad, Part-Time Entrepreneur

When we had our first son three years ago I decided to design a lifestyle around him and not around a workplace. I was in a really good position to do this, having grown up in Scandinavia where today 85% of all Dads are staying home with their kids during their first years.

I was also fortunate to have started working in the Internet space since the early days back in mid-90s; quickly learning how to collaborate in networks and use technology in a mindful way. But also realizing that work-life balance is an evil myth, neither works or exists.

In addition, I had the great fortune to re-connect with simplicity during a 12-month voluntary break between my long stint at Yahoo! that ended in 2005 and my following gig at Blurb. During these 12-months my wife and I traveled in short bursts to Europe and South America and re-learned how to bootstrap, innovate and design our own daily lifestyle.

When we came home from those trips we began what would be our last employments – at Wired and Blurb respectively. Two amazing places but the urge to explore the life of total responsibility and self-reliance and enjoy the freedoms if successful just grew to strong too ignore.

Our simple lives were perfect for a new kind of personal entrepreneurship where family matters the most; bootstrapped but value-focused, independent but networked, playful but professional. We wanted to take everything we had learned about how technology is changing the world to change our very own, for the better and rethink family life.

So like anyone starting with a blank canvas we experimented, failed and discovered. We became or own prototypes, learning by doing everyday. Our core value maintained: Family First. It’s a fantastic creative constraint that reshapes why, what, how and when you make what to sell to the world.

I discovered that early mornings, between 5 and 7, were perfect for reading, thinking and exploring. When our son woke up, I had already started my mind in a very positive way, giving it fuel and focus. Something that stuck with me for the rest of the day. When he took his daily naps, I grabbed my iPad and started producing content or communicating with collaborators.

I learned that I could “work” 4 hours per day instead of the regular 8-10 hours as I had gotten rid of wasteful commuting, meaningless meetings, mindless social networking, useless emails and all things advertising or broadcast media. By saying No to always being accessible, reachable by phone, available for conference calls I liberated my mind and time to focus on creating real, monetizable value for my strategic partners.

By no means was this easy but it has become easier. I still have to make people understand why meetings or emails should be short or not at all, why meeting up once in a while IRL is much more important and effective, why making a draft or prototype is more important that talking. But the cool thing is that today I’m in a really great place.

I created a life where I – as a man – “leaned in” to paraphrase a now much talked about book, into a traditionally woman lead world to claim my right to spend equal time and deliver equal value as a parent. It has made me a softer and more patient person but more importantly my relationship with my kids is fantastic.

I’ve also created time for myself and for the projects I love. They are always in the back of my mind but I’ve learned that the best ideas and solutions come when I relax and play with the kids. I’ve improved my focus and attention and can make decisions really quickly and with good enough quality when it matters. I’ve also learned to only collaborate with open, smart and nice people and organizations that have heart, mind and soul. Sounds like a no-brainer, right.

Most importantly, I’ve learned that life is short, it happens now and it starts with you!

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Do You Have the Will to Win?

Sports have always played a big part of my life. I played basketball, soccer and field hockey growing up, and I still find time for a Masters swimming program at my local public swim club every morning.

Like many others will tell you, my experience playing team sports has informed my approach to business and leadership. And while sports comparisons and metaphors are commonly used – some might even say overused – in business, I still find them instructive: from how you relate to your teammates, to playing your particular position, to the joy of winning as a team.

So with the Winter Olympics upon us, I thought I would share a few sports-related principles I’ve tried to follow throughout my career and instill at HP.

Create a winning environment

Winning starts with creating an environment that encourages openness, meritocracy and teamwork. One of my first actions at HP was to tear down the walls of the plush executive offices in Palo Alto and convert the workspace into cubicles. We also did away with the gated executive parking area and the private entrance.

Every HP employee now shares the same kind of work space and we all park in the same lots and walk through the same doors. This sets an example for the culture we want to create. It makes us more accessible and helps us to become a stronger and more cohesive team.

People are more productive and successful when a company has an open and collaborate environment, and leaders should do everything they can to encourage it.

Earn your spot on the team

When I think about earning your spot on the team, I’m reminded of a story from a former colleague of mine, Maynard Webb. Maynard was the chief operating officer at eBay and today is the chairman of the board at Yahoo!.

Maynard got his start at IBM as a security guard and worked his way up over the years through a number of different organizations. He attributes his success to how he approached being a team member and being a leader. Maynard believes that you need to be voted onto the team you’re a part of every single day.

Over the years, I have applied Maynard’s philosophy to my own career. I wake up every single day trying to live up to the expectations that I have set for everyone at HP. Letting my team down is not an option. Every morning, my goal is to make sure I’m still picked for the HP team.

Step up, move quickly

Being an effective team member is also about taking initiative. As I’ve told employees, problems don’t get better with age. Demonstrate the initiative and urgency to get issues resolved.

At HP, I’ve implemented a new rule: escalate in 24 hours and resolve in 48 hours. Too often decisions get lost in the ether. It’s important to be able to make decisions faster in order to be more agile. If you have got something standing in your way, you have got to escalate it to your managers and leaders quickly. Success requires employees who run to the fire and fix problems quickly. Winners never make excuses – they figure it out.

Have the will to win

I talk about having the will to win with HP employees a lot. To me, it means executing, communicating, collaborating and being accountable. Things are never going to be perfect. There’s always going to be some disadvantage that has to be overcome. But winners don’t wait around for perfect conditions. Winners improvise. They fight on and they refuse to lose.

No company anywhere, at any time, is guaranteed a future. The competitive global technology market place, in particular, simply doesn’t allow for free rides. So I’m asking a lot of our folks at HP right now – the same way I work to earn my spot on the team each day.

Having the will to win is the ultimate catalyst for success. It’s also about never taking success for granted.

So ask yourself, do you know who you have to beat in order to win? Do you know the moves your competitors are about to make? And when you lose, do you know why you lost?

That kind of competitive intensity is on display at Sochi, and the best leaders find ways to encourage it throughout their organizations.

Photo: Sochi 2014 Winter Games / Flickr

Posted by:Meg Whitman

Tumblr, I’m Breaking Up With You… I’ve Found Someone Else.

The founding of Medium could not have come at a worse time for Yahoo! Tumblr was supposed to be a big part of Yahoo!’s plan to save itself—yet now Tumblr has to somehow stay cool while integrating its ad platform and keeping up with Medium, which has become a new obsession for many of us. Even worse is that Tumblr is going to have to start a war while newly part of a massive company sure to slow down the blogging company’s ability to move, grow and adjust.

Medium has felt better than Tumblr at helping bloggers get discovered, track analytics, curate great content and discover new people. As Medium begins letting more people on to its platform it might get more difficult to facilitate such a high-quality of work—but either way, I’m interested to see what happens. It makes me wonder if Yahoo! would have gone through with the purchase 6 months later.

Tumblr, I’ve broken up with you for a few reasons. I think Medium will soon be bigger, and is better positioned to facilitate active conversation. By keeping a stricter structure on page design and by being initially exclusive, Medium is taking a very Facebook-like approach, and Tumblr’s ability to be customized mirrors much of Myspace’s early mistakes (did I really just draw that comparison?)

I’m interested to see how people continue to broadcast their voice in a more meaningful way, and as a way to better brand themselves, and I want to be on the ground floor of that movement.

Twitter has been a gateway drug. It’s given people a taste for broadcasting, and now they want more. Enter Vine, Instagram, Medium, MixBit, and soon, many more.

Thanks for all the fun Tumblr, but you just don’t get me anymore. I’ve found someone else.

**The comments have been awesome! I think my main point was that for me, Medium has grown into a better platform because of how easy the content is to consume due to the strictness in design. I agree, Tumblr is probably better for some things, but the ultimate conclusion was meant to be: Medium has to have been an “oh sh*t” for Yahoo! and likely will replace the Tumblr pages of many others.

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Let’s Get New Dogs To Teach Us New Tricks

As we grow and experience more of the world, we start to build mental structures or ways of thinking that are hard to change.

Today, young entrepreneurs have grown up in a world where the rate of innovation has rapidly increased. Barriers to entry have dropped significantly, allowing entrepreneurs to start businesses with limited access to capital. Hackers are used to looking at technical solutions to every problem around them. Its part of their DNA. I am not saying that an older entrepreneur cannot adapt or adjust their way of thinking, but I do think its harder.

Companies that decide to hire senior level positions and CEOs externally to help with a company turnaround, are trying to bring someone in with a different mindset. Internal employees know a lot more about their company, how it runs and how it has operated in the past, but its harder for them to step outside the inner workings that they have helped build. Gary Vaynerchuk argues that when you do well by the old rules, you become complacent and refuse to accept a new paradigm shift.

Marissa Mayer joined Yahoo as an external hire and brought about change in the company. She had seen how Google, a more modern and innovative company, was built and therefore could better critique and analyze Yahoo.

I am sure if you could have presidents rotate around different governments they would be able to better question and improve government as they would have a broader perspective. Of course, there are probably regulations that would prevent this from happening but I think it would be an interesting experiment.

Once we accumulate knowledge, we tend to better understand the many risks with each new venture and become skeptical about its feasibility. We tend to think more about implementational challenges and assign higher levels of difficulty to each risk than a less experienced founder would. These may be valid risks but they may be easier to address in todays world than in the world an ‘expert’ grew up in.

I think that while knowledge is extremely valuable sometimes it can hurt us. Too much knowledge about a company, or a specific government may limit our ability to innovate or change that business or government. We may become overconfident because of our ability to execute in the old system and fail to realize that the system has changed.

“Doubt grows with knowledge”

— By Randy Rayess

Twitter: @RandyRayess, Google+

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Yahoo Acquires Social Diary Company Wander For Over $10M

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Yahoo has acquired New York-based startup Wander.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but based on rumors I heard last night at the Crunchies, it appears that the price was north of $10 million. Led by founder Jeremy Fisher, Wander has raised a total of $1.2 million in funding.

Wander, which has been around since graduating TechStars in 2012, is aimed around changing our content creation habits. Originally, Wander was focused on sharing travel experiences in a diary, but soon pivoted focus onto an app called Days.

The app lets users create a series of photographs and gifs in a package called a “Day,” which can be shared the next day. The idea is this: rather than sharing bite-sized moments in real time, Days is about sharing an entire story of how your day went.

By tying everyday experiences together, Days lets you share mundane things like your morning coffee or your cat and, thanks to the context created within the story, those mundane things become more “share-worthy.”

According to the blog post, Days will continue on as a standalone app, supported by all members of the Wander team. Plus, the five-person team will start working on “some exciting new projects” as a part of Yahoo’s Mobile and Emerging Products team, based in NYC.

Here’s the blog post in full:

We’ve spent the past few years figuring out how to make content creation as habitual as content consumption. That’s the idea behind Days, the daily visual diary we launched in May 2013. Nine months later, we’re excited to announce that we’ve accepted an offer to bring our work on daily habits to Yahoo. We started our company with the vision of transforming daily habits, and we’re proud to be joining a new one that shares that mission.
Our entire team will be joining Yahoo’s NYC-based Mobile and Emerging Products group, where we’ll continue on as a startup team within a larger organization. The Days app will live on as a standalone entity, and we’ll also be working on some exciting new projects that we can’t talk about just yet.
Sincerest appreciation to our investors, our advisors, our friends and families, the good folks at Apple, and, most importantly, our users! Your days have inspired us and it’s been beyond rewarding watching the product and community we’ve built together evolve and grow. We are so grateful, thank you!
If you have any questions, please tweet @wander or email us via founders@onwander.com.
Happy Days,
-Jeremy, Keenan, Lara, Sean, and Whitney

Obviously, this isn’t the first acquisition for Yahoo under Marissa Mayer‘s leadership. The fashion-forward CEO has acquired more than 15 companies in the past 18 months, during which time she’s totally turned around the internet juggernaut.


Yahoo Suffers Mail Security Breach

January 30, 2014 Web

Yahoo said it has been the target of a security attack aimed at Yahoo Mail users. Yahoo identified a coordinated effort to gain control of email accounts. Yahoo did not specify how many users or accounts were affected.

The Yahoo Mail usernames and passwords used in the hack were likely collected from a compromised third-party database, the company said in a blog post. Yahoo is resetting passwords of affected accounts and using two step authentication, including SMS notifications to to further secure accounts.

The company said it is working with federal law enforcement to determine who was responsible for the hack.


Yahoo Has Closed The Tomfoolery Acquisition, Will Shut Down Anchor, Team To Work For Bonforte

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We now have more details about the deal between Yahoo and Tomfoolery, an enterprise app studio co-founded by ex-Yahoo and ex-AOL alums, which we and others have reported is getting acquired by Yahoo.

According to a source close to the deal, the acquisition has indeed now closed, and Yahoo will officially announce it as soon as this evening or tomorrow morning. The intention was to put the news out at the end of this week or the beginning of next week, but with the story coming out already, the company has sped up the timing.

Tomfoolery’s existing business, including its Anchor app, will be shut down. Whether the concepts behind Anchor and the other things Tomfoolery was planning will be reborn as consumer or enterprise products at Yahoo is not clear.

All four co-founders — CEO Kakul Srivastava, chief product officer Sol Lipman, VP of platform Simon Batistoni and VP of mobile Ethan Nagel — will be joining Yahoo SVP Jeff Bonforte to work on products in Yahoo’s Communications division. Current products in the division include Yahoo Mail, Messenger, Groups, Contacts, Calendar, covering both the mobile and desktop versions.

It’s not clear whether all of Tomfoolery’s other 10 or so employees are coming over to Yahoo.

Bringing more product and engineering talent into Yahoo makes sense for the company right now. As I wrote earlier today when looking at Yahoo’s quarterly results and declining sales, it has put a lot of investment into building out its portfolio of services, but in a business model that is predicated on advertising, Yahoo will need to continue to do more of that product development to grow its traffic.

(And if it’s going to be predicated on something else, such as paid services, then those products will need to be built, too.)

There are some ties between Bonforte and Tomfoolery that point to this being an acquisition of a known quantity, so to speak.

Before leaving to start relationship and contact management startup Xobni — which was eventually acquired by Yahoo — Bonforte had been a Yahoo employee, working on search and communications products. Srivastava is the former GM of Flickr, where she oversaw the Yahoo-owned photo network during its biggest phase of growth, from 37,000 users to over 50 million. She also worked on Yahoo Mail in her time at the company. Batistoni helped to build the monetization and community aspects of Flickr.

A connection to another Tomfoolery exec appears to go even further back. One of Bonforte’s past roles was founder and CEO of i-Drive.com, an early player in online storage. According to Lipman’s LinkedIn profile, he had worked briefly at i-Drive, too. More immediately, before Tomfoolery, Lipman had been a mobile VP at AOL (where he joined after AOL acquired his startup Rally Up).

We are still trying to get our own confirmation on the price of the deal. The WSJ reported it as $16 million. If correct, that’s not a bad return for a company that had raised only $1.7 million from the likes of Andreessen Horowitz, David Tisch, and a number of Yahoo and AOL veterans including Jerry Yang, Brad Garlinghouse, Ash Patel and Sam Pullara.


Source: Yahoo Bought Aviate For $80M

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Earlier this week, Yahoo announced that it had acquired Aviate, a startup providing contextually relevant information on Android homescreens, but it didn’t say anything about the acquisition price. Now a source with knowledge of the deal tells me that the acquisition was for $80 million.

My source didn’t know any of the details beyond the amount — the mix of cash and stock or how much of the total is tied to an earn out, for example. Regardless, that’s an impressive price for a young startup that raised a $1.8 million Series A (from Highland Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, and others) less than a year ago. (It was also incubated at StartX.)

When I reached out for this story, spokespeople from both Yahoo and Aviate declined to comment on the terms of the deal.

Yahoo has on a pretty visible acquisition streak since Marissa Mayer took over as CEO. Last month, for example, it acquired content delivery network provider PeerCDN. During her keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show, Mayer said that Aviate’s technology will allow Yahoo to deliver content in “smarter and more personalized” ways on Android phones.


Yahoo Launches News Digest, Its First App Based On Summly

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Today at its CES keynote, Yahoo announced a new product, News Digest, to help people stay “quickly informed” on the day’s big topics by sending out twice daily updates, or digests.

The content is a curated “blend” of information, using several sources to create news stories. Yahoo calls the individual stories “atoms.” The goal of News Digest is to bring users “comprehensive, effortless, and complete” information on their world.

The product represents Yahoo’s first product built on top of Summly, a company that it purchased that had a focus on gisting information to small summaries.

Yahoo’s own stated goal is to “give users a daily source of news that they are missing today.”

The new service fits well inside Yahoo’s new rubric of building mobile applications that help users with their daily tasks. News Digest is designed to be used at least twice daily, so it could have high resonance among its user base.

Yahoo’s keynote address also included various notes on its content strategy, which is expanding. It seems logical that its own reporting will be folded into News Digest. We’ll have hands on notes in short order.

The app is live in the App Store now.


Yahoo Girds Its Loins For The Battle Over Your Home Screen

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The home screen as it stands cannot last. In reality, what we’re looking at is the end times for the traditional grid of icons that we’ve become so familiar with since the iPhone was introduced in 2007.

There is simply too much context available via the sensors, camera, radios and other inputs we carry around in our pockets not to take advantage of it.

The icon grid design was used in many early smartphones running Palm and Symbian and Windows Mobile. But the iPhone really launched that design into the public consciousness and then Google cemented it with the launch of the first touch screen Android device. I’m not here to argue about firsts, but Apple was essentially responsible for making the grid the ‘standard’ in the eyes of a lot of people — both iPhone users and people who picked up other smartphones running on other operating systems.

But, seven years later, the choices made by Apple to honor the grid demand re-examination. The thought process is relatively simple to disassemble. The grid had been used by other smartphone makers and even Apple’s Newton. It was simple, easy to understand and friendly to people who were being introduced to multitouch — which was for most people a brand new way to interact with touch screens. This was the same process which led it to utilize real-world allegories like bookshelves, page curls and ‘buttony’ buttons.

But that home screen belongs to a bygone era. We’re acclimated now and any new users of smartphones have the collective installed user base to help them along.

Now is the time that the home screen begins to take advantage of the thing that we’re going to be hearing an absolute junk ton about in 2014: context.

I have a ton more thoughts about why 2014 will be the ‘year of context’ for mobile software and hardware, but for our purposes it’s enough to point at a few recent trends. Among those are Google Now, Apple’s ‘Today’ section in Notification Center, Facebook Home, Cyanogen Mod and home screen customization companies like Everything.me and, yes, Aviate.

These various products are all efforts to leverage the contextual signals that our mobile sensor platforms are able to collect and transmit. Where we are, who we are, what our intent is, what our environment looks and sounds like and what we do when we’re there. That context can be used to customize the way that our devices look, feel and work based on our own personal signals.

At this point, a home screen that customizes itself to you, personally, feels as inevitable as a well-worn pair of shoes.

TechCrunch columnist MG Siegler noted a symptom of this recently. The ‘first app you open’ in the morning is becoming more important real-estate than your home screen. In reality the first app you open when you turn on your iPhone is ’springboard’, the home screen. But up to this point it has remained relatively static, with only a couple of minor nods to active icons like the clock and calendar.

Android home screens have always been more malleable, allowing for personalization and customization on a deeper level. Which is why some people really like Android.

But this isn’t just about customization, it’s about reaction and organization on a contextual basis. Which brings us back to Yahoo’s recent acquisition, Aviate.


Aviate is a home screen replacement for Android that interprets signals from you, the user, to present you with the apps, content and alerts you want right when you need them or even before. It groups apps into automated collections. This makes the home screen simple and clean.

It also has elements of app discovery, says Aviate’s Mark Daiss. Aviate will look at the apps that you have and use the most and suggest more like it. The goal for the first run at Aviate was to cover roughly ’80%’ of a user’s day, says Daiss. That includes the major components like getting up, traveling, working and going to bed. From here on out it will be about fleshing out the moments in between.

Daiss credits Facebook Home for creating an awareness of what a launcher was and how a customized home screen could change the experience. Despite the fact that Home didn’t exactly turn out well, Daiss notes that other efforts like GoLauncher have seen success, with that offering currently clocking in at over 100 million installs on Google Play.

One of the reasons I believe Facebook Home’s initial try failed was that it was too insular. Even the most dedicated Facebook user needs more than just one network’s worth of information. That’s why I was curious about Yahoo’s plans for Aviate.

Yahoo SVP of Mobile and Emerging Products Adam Cahan says that the company isn’t interested in turning Aviate into some sort of ‘all Yahoo apps’ portal. For now, it will expand the beta program and get more users checking it out. “Think of this as an extension of [Yahoo] Search,” Cahan says. 6.Location

The extension of search metaphor is an apt one, as contextually aware home screens will be all about using anticipatory ‘searching’ through our apps, habits and use cases to provide us with better experiences. Aviate will now be able to tap deeply into Yahoo data like search, weather, maps and more to inform contextual experiences. But, Daiss is careful to note, Aviate will still choose the best, most definitive data source possible — even if that’s not from Yahoo. With the best data comes the best experiences.

Daiss lays down the core components of what he feels a contextual computing experience are. First, it needs the right input signals, then it needs the information that’s pertinent to the situation and then it has to provide the right user experience.

Part of what they’ve discovered at Aviate is that this experience often involves offering information and context from inside the apps right out on the home screen. But this isn’t a one-shot widget, this is a continuously personalized experience.

One of Aviate’s more popular features is a ‘swipe down’ screen that can offer you context from inside various apps at any given moment. Swipe down at a restaurant and you might get information about what’s good to eat there from Foursquare or Yelp. Swipe down at home and you’ll get alarm settings, a do not disturb toggle and a schedule of meetings.

If you’re an iOS user and this is sounding familiar, yes, this is why Apple acquired Cue. Because its swipe down ‘today’ section has the seeds of this kind of contextual computing, but it needs a lot of water and care to grow. Control Center and Notification Center need to grow up, quickly. (It’s also, I feel, one of the major reasons Apple changed its design so drastically with iOS 7 — it needed a more flexible framework to build within.)

Aviate and other intent-based home screens are champing at the bit to offer people a better experience. And Google Now has an immense amount of head start simply by virtue of the enormous amount of data it has from its users.

Unfortunately, once you start talking about how much these intent-based systems know about us and can anticipate our needs, the spectre of the NSA and government spying programs rears its head. Yahoo, Google and Apple were all targeted for data collection and that’s unlikely to go away. There are some incredibly complex and sticky moral quandaries headed our way with this new contex-heavy world, but that’s probably a discussion best handled in a focused chat about the trend.

For now, we have Yahoo acquiring Aviate in order to make sure that it has a hand in this new world of context-based software. It has the resources to juice the back end with user data, and it’s going to be a big platform for Aviate as a (relatively) agnostic prototype of the custom home screen. And if it’s turning and burning as much as it appears to be on mobile, Yahoo is very interested in how this battle for the home screen turns out.

What’s intriguing about this is that it’s very much a ‘technology company’ move. So much of the confusion about Yahoo and its new direction — I feel — has been rooted in the inability by some to come to grips with the fact that Yahoo’s new CEO Marissa Mayer is comfortable thinking of the company as both, and so are her new lieutenants. Yahoo has an enormous amount to prove still. No amount of hot young talent Botox is going to magically turn the company around.

But I don’t find the company’s investments in technology confusing. In this new contextual computing age, if you’re a media company not investing in your own technology, you’re probably not being…anticipatory enough.