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Yahoo Not Done With Its Bing Critique Just Yet

imageUpdated: Some have suggested that Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) CEO Carol Bartz doesn’t have a deep attachment to the company’s search business, which may leave it vulnerable. But Yahoo Search Vice President Larry Cornett insisted Wednesday that search was still central to the company, adding the evidence that the new home page the company is expected to launch later this year will feature search more prominently. The list of “top searches,” for example, which currently lies at the bottom of the home page will be moved to the top right (Click on the thumbnail above to see what it’s like). “There is much more of an emphasis on search and discovering what people are searching for. I can’t share any stats yet but I think it’s a very solid improvement,” Cornett said at the RBC Capital Markets Technology, Media & Communications Conference.

Cornett, who also reviewed the company’s ongoing efforts to eliminate the “stranglehold on the 10 blue links” — was asked “what are the guarantees that Carol Bartz and upper management who have been cutting Yahoo to the bone … would keep investing in this? What happens if you guys get fired, laid off, go to Google (NSDQ: GOOG) or whatever else?” Cornett played diplomat and ignored that many of his colleagues have already fled. “I obviously can’t share too many details but search is a critical business for Yahoo … If you look at reductions it has been to reinvest in the things that make the (most) sense for Yahoo.”

And following Bartz’s lead— as well as that of Google CEO Eric Schmidt –Cornett also took a few jabs at Bing. While complimenting Bing for being “fast” and “integrated,” he said that it would be difficult to get people to try out another search service if it was not “radically different.” “I don’t think they’ve achieved that yet,” he said. Cornett said Yahoo had a leg up in introducing its own changes since people are already coming to to visit its other sites.

Updated: Later in the day, at a Credit Suisse conference, Yahoo SVP Joanne Bradford said that with Bing, Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) had chosen to target Google and not Yahoo. Like Google, Bing, she said, was a destination for searchers — with basically a “blank page.” By contrast, she said that Yahoo was offering a “holistic approach” — with a package of offerings. “Search is a component, part of it,” she said. “(But) it’s not going to be a destination.” That, she said, allowed Yahoo to differentiate itself.

8 Responses to “Yahoo Not Done With Its Bing Critique Just Yet”

  1. @Mikey,
    No, Qi wasn't in charge of yahoo search when google began killing them. But, he was the one who rescued yahoo from complete disaster called panama. Until he came on board; panama development didn't even looked like as if it would ever finish. Now, it is the only reason yahoo search has been able to make more money than in the past(although not as much as google per search due to under leveraged position; but more than remaining others).

  2. Qi Lu just got there, I doubt he had that much to do with Bing.

    I'm surprised at all the adulation Qi gets. I mean, he's probably a nice guy and all, but wasn't he in charge of search as Yahoo got waxed by Google?!

  3. There is certainly a fine line between attempting to be honest and degrading your product. It's no secret that Yahoo has a number of services that it wishes to focus its attention on and search might not always be at the top of that list. But when you are the number two search engine right now, you have to show a little pride and some interest in future development. Cornett's statement that search was critical to Yahoo's business may just be a face-saving moment, but hopefully someone there believes that. The supposed changes to the home page to present the search as a prominent part.
    As far as the Bing critique, it's not totally unwarrented. It's no secret that Bing has a ways to go before they completely scare the rest of the industry, so I don't think there was anything wrong with what Cornett said. It wasn't really a "jab", but if that's the only way to throw fire on these "search wars" then so be it.

  4. I am very happy for Microsoft that they are making good progress. A lot of credit should go to Qi Lu and i am very happy for him. Here is a guy who works 20 hours a day, 7 days a week and puts his heart and soul into work. I wish Qi continued success at Microsoft.

  5. Yahoo should really focus on focussing on their roadmap (instead of being critical of Msft). Also, while passion is good, yahoo should approach things from a "business" perspective. Sometimes I feel that yahoo mgt gets too "attached" to what they are doing and want to do it anyway (even if they are not convinced with the business value). I really hope Carol can turn it around.

  6. Yahoo executives are completely clueless. How do you keep morale of your search engineers up and keep them from defecting to microsoft if you keep denigrating it. Yahoo would loose major search market share in remainder of 2009 if Carol and co. keeps this attitude. Next round of cuts are only a quarter or two away. BTW, Joanne is a former msn executive.

  7. There's a reason why Yahoo is contracting. It continues to preach to the choir which is precisely what Cornett echos. At least Microsoft is out there actually swinging to be #1 even if it's not achieving it's goal. I would hate to be at a place that is complacent and content with being #2.