<trp-post-container data-trp-post-id='25779'>Yahoo, the end a Giant Maintenance with Catherine Reichert

Catherine, you're leaving Yahoo after 5 years as Director of Communications for Southern Europe: Yahoo was one of the iconic brands of the New Economy and is still almost mythical today... Despite this, Yahoo has gone into an incredible tailspin over the last few years: why?

Yahoo is indeed an iconic brand. It is and will remain one of the pioneers of the web! Founded in the mid-90s by David Filo and Jerry Yang, Yahoo offered a directory for finding, classifying and organising searches on a burgeoning web that was seeing the creation of thousands of sites, much to the dismay of Internet users who couldn't find their way around. Very quickly, by diversifying (search engine, messaging, forums, news, online shopping, classified offers, etc.), Yahoo became a portal. That's the brand's DNA. At the same time, other players - mainly Amazon, AOL, eBay and Google - have developed a more single-product approach. From the 2000s onwards, some of these players overtook Yahoo, which went through a difficult period. The main reason was that the brand was unable to keep pace with changing usage patterns, particularly on mobile phones. This was followed by years of vacillation, with Yahoo oscillating between a media positioning and that of a tech company, depending on who was at the helm. This was the situation that Marissa Mayer found herself in when she arrived in July 2012. Despite all the efforts and initiatives taken under her leadership, mainly to get the company back into the technology race, Yahoo failed to return to the big leagues. Why this failure? There are many complex reasons. Among them, I would mention two: insufficiently clear positioning for users. Yahoo has not succeeded in establishing itself in the minds of Internet users as a single, simple tool, like Google for search or Facebook for social networking (although they are much more than that!). As a result, many people had a very hazy idea of Yahoo's product offering. The company also failed to innovate in a sufficiently differentiating way, launching a 'killing app' that could have both restored its reputation and won over new users, especially among younger people.

These days, everything moves very fast, sometimes even a little too fast: after the collapse of various players from the first generation of the Net (Yahoo, but also Netscape, AOL, etc.), do we think that those from the second generation, the famous GAFAs, may have to face similar challenges in the near future?

If there's one lesson to be learned from the Yahoo experience, it's that nothing can be taken for granted! You can be the master of the world today, only to be overtaken the day after by a new, more agile and innovative entrant. This is all the more true in a world where the Internet and the development of new technologies are accelerating product life cycles and increasing the diversity and number of products available to meet the more mature and demanding needs of consumers. Technological innovations are enabling us to do things that would have been unthinkable just 10 years ago! To stay in the race, it's not enough to be up to date; you have to be able to stay one step ahead and anticipate changes in user habits and expectations. Today we talk about the "Ubérisation" of society. We can already see what changes players like Uber, Airbnb and Blablacar are bringing to organisational and sociological models. This is precisely what could challenge the predominance of the GAFAs. In fact, the NATUs (Netflix, Airbnb, Tesla and Uber) are now being referred to as the new masters of the world.

After the Web, the social Web and then the collaborative economy, where will the major challenges of the coming years lie?

Without doubt, unimaginable changes lie ahead. On the one hand, we are witnessing a profound transformation of our societies with the arrival of the sharing economy, which no longer values possession as an end in itself. On the other hand, technological advances such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and virtual reality are bringing about a veritable revolution - the third, according to some, after the printing press and the industrial revolution. We are undoubtedly on the threshold of a new world, worthy of science fiction novels. And we will be the witnesses. In my opinion, this is an incredible opportunity! It raises a lot of questions and worries too - just like our ancestors felt when the first trains arrived! - but we must remain optimistic. Progress and technology may not only have advantages, but there's no denying what they have brought to our daily lives. We live better and longer. Progress makes for a better world. That's how I think we should look to the future.


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