Remember your crazy uncle who decided to get a mohawk, adopt a snake, and buy a motorcycle off Craigslist, all because he was 52 years old, the kids are off to college, and well, #yolo? That’s midlife crisis at its finest. Most people have the luxury of acting irrationally without fear of judgement by the general public. Marissa Mayer and the rest of the Yahoo clan, however, are a different story.
Unlike Google, Apple, Microsoft, and other large tech conglomerates, Yahoo’s been in the news fairly often… but for all the wrong reasons. It’s clear Yahoo wants to get in with the cool kids, expand its youth audience, and take over the startup ecosystem. It wants to be the mom that lets kids form a punk band in the garage, but only if they shut down by 4:30 p.m. and write songs they can perform at the local church.
Or you know – Amy Poehler’s character in Mean Girls.
The thing is, Yahoo is fighting its own nature. Not unlike your “badass” uncle’s inability to stay up past 10 o’clock on a weeknight, Yahoo’s stodgy old ways seem to be clashing with its hip, adopted persona all over the place. The result is an identity crisis of epic proportion. Most recently, the company started cycling its logo through 30 different variants before it unveils the final version. Here’s a rundown of Yahoo’s latest stumbles.
It all started when Marissa Mayer decided that despite its reputation as an Internet company, using said medium as a way to telecommute was inefficient at best. Then she got all kumbaya and said the company needed to be one Yahoo together, starting by physically being together. If the work-from-home ban resulted in more Yahoo products that made sense in its revamp as a modern tech company, then we’d see how this strategy proved successful for the company. But so far, all Yahoo’s done is…
Name at least one person that uses or have heard of Rockmelt, Astrid, Qwiki, Go Poll Go, or Summly (before the teen that created it made headlines by… being a teen who created it). It seems as though Yahoo’s trying to snatch up various technologies its own staff doesn’t know how to make, but we’ve yet to hear what it’s trying to do with these startups. Who wants to use a Yahoo Web browser when they’re still getting spammed with bots on Yahoo messenger? And PlayerScale? Kill us before Yahoo tries to create the next Candy Crush.
The acquisition of Lexity, an online shopping analytics firm for small businesses, makes even less sense… unless Yahoo’s planning to start a T-shirt printing company in conjunction with Flickr. Hey, you never know these days. It’s the social thing to do.
Tumblr censorship + ads
The first thing Mayer promised when Yahoo and Tumblr joined forces was that the social network would operate independently from Yahoo, and that she won’t mess it up for the wild, wild, Web. A couple of weeks after the announcement, many NSFW Tumblr blogs disappeared as the companies seemingly began cracking down on its terms and service. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – sites that glorified underaged porn, self-mutilation, and eating disorders hardly have a place on a billion-dollar company.
But the ads! It’s as if Mayer brainwashed David Karp overnight with stacks of Benjamins when he openly admitted that “ads will make Tumblr better” even though he told L.A. Times the exact opposite three years back. You think I wasn’t going to notice that between Humans of New York and Lookbook.nu, Home Depot was randomly making an unwanted appearance? Come on, son. That stuff will never be cool.
Worse than stomping on the definition of cool by citing billboards as clever marketing to target younger demographics is Yahoo’s username recycling program, which made it impossible for people to retrieve their old email accounts. I was lucky enough to remember the password to my very first email that happened to be a Yahoo Mail. Everyone else was forced to let their childhood disappear into the Internet abyss, because who remembered to go back in 2008 to enter a secondary email to help restore forgotten passwords?
30-day logo change
By announcing 30 new logos before unveiling the one final logo, Yahoo’s just putting the cherry on top of its identity crisis sundae. It’s clear Yahoo doesn’t know how to handle being on the Internet except by throwing money at it and hoping something will magically appear. Or if it does, it better come forth soon with new products and plans before it rides off into the sunset on a Craiglisted Vespa. It’s what the cool kids are driving, right?