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Yahoo scores a coup and lands a top Googler

Marissa Mayer speaks onstage at the FORTUNE Most Powerful Women Dinner New York City at Hudson Room at the Time Warner Center on May 24, 2011. Mayer is the new CEO at Yahoo.

Yahoo has a new CEO. The hiring of Google executive Marissa Mayer was announced yesterday, her first day is today. She probably found her parking spot. Learned where the coffee was.

It's a bit of a coup for Yahoo. Everyone's favorite gateway to the web in 1996, which has stumbled a bit in recent years.

Andrew Ross Sorkin was one of the reporters who broke the story of Mayer's hiring for the New York Times. He says you may not know Mayer's name, but you know her work at Google.

Andrew Ross Sorkin: She was in charge of the look and feel of things like the home page. the famous white home page. That was her. Google News, the way Gmail looked, the famous Google Maps, that was really what she has done for the last thirteen years. She was their twentieth employee, started as an engineer, but quickly became in charge of really the way everything on Google looks and feels to us

Moe: So we might get a cleaner look for us Yahoo users, simpler place to navigate because she knows how to do that?

Sorkin: I think that's going to be part of it. I think they're probably going to spend a lot of time on mobile, a lot of time on video, broadband, and a lot of time with advertisers. She also has a reputation on Madison Avenue, and of course, when we think about these services, we think about the user experience, they're also supposed to be revenue generators and that's traditionally through advertising, and the sense on the board, at least their hope, is that she will actually be able to bring big names back into the fold.

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You know Microsoft Office? Word, Excel, PowerPoint, all those things you've used in every office job you've had in the last 15 to 20 years? Microsoft has announced an update to that software.

The new version is designed to work on PCs and tablets like the upcoming Surface. That means touch screen compatibility.

Melissa Webster is an analyst with IDC and says the company is taking a big tent approach. She says, "If you're offering a document in Word or doing budgeting on an Excel spreadsheet or you're creating a new presentation in PowerPoint, you really do need to be able to use shortcut keys, typing, real keyboard, a mouse, something that's got a little finer point on it, maybe a stylus, than the tip of your finger. Microsoft has been clear that users want that mixed-mode experience, so you can combine touch with those other modes of interaction, and you're not sort of locked into one way to work."

Rather than be software installed on one machine, Microsoft Office would go with you from device to device, storing things remotely, ready when you need it.

Joe Wilcox is with Beta News. He says, "When you think about your phone bill, your cable service for example, you get that on a subscription basis, you pay for it monthly. That's kind of where Microsoft would like to go with Office. It already sells the software to businesses kind of that way, and they want to go further to small businesses and consumers and make it available not just on your computer, but anywhere you go. The idea is that Office goes with you anytime, anywhere and on anything."

That agility is what customers want, says Webster, and it should make shareholders of the company pretty happy as well.

Webster: Moving more of Microsoft's revenue stream to a subscription-based model, which is a great annuity model anyway; because the reason they need to keep innovating is because they need users to upgrade to new versions so they can monetize that.

Moe: Money keeps coming in the door.

Webster: Exactly. Moving to a subscription basis where users either pay or can't use is a brilliant evolutionary strategy for any desktop software maker, not just Microsoft.

About the author

John Moe is the host of Marketplace Tech Report, where he provides an insightful overview of the latest tech news.
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