to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic
- (idiomatic) To do something pointless or insignificant that will soon be overtaken by events, or that contributes nothing to the solution of a current problem.
A lot of talk has been made recently about the struggles of Yahoo, the #4 visited site in the world. It is well-established that despite its robust traffic Yahoo is in decline, and Alexa offers some insight why.
Yahoo is 18 years old. Alexa points out that Yahoo receives a high proportion of its traffic from the 45-55 year old demographic and 65+. These users probably grew with Yahoo, but are increasingly harder to sell to. Yahoo is ad-supported, so ad opportunities from sites such as Google and Facebook are huge competition that draw dollars from Yahoo. In other words – the audience is getting older, the pipeline is not being replenished, the competition has a better value proposition and revenue isn’t coming in.
Another key insight that Alexa offers is that nearly half of Yahoo users enter the site at mail.yahoo.com (Yahoo Mail). What this seems to indicate is that up to half of users aren’t using the ad-supported content. Alexa says that 20% of internet users use Yahoo monthly, but what if only 11% are using the ad-supported content? This gives Yahoo an audience that falls somewhere between Twitter and Wikipedia. The problem? Twitter is scraping by with a staff of +/- 500, problematic ad content, but with a rich pipeline of users in favorable demographics (and arguable more relevant content). Yahoo has many of the same problems with a less favorable demographic and a staff of +/- 14,000 (and that’s after two large-scale layoffs).
So how has Yahoo dealt with these issues in the last few weeks?
- A proxy fight has ensued for four board seats
- Demands have been made for the outster of the CEO and a board member when it was found that they embellished fairly insignificant portions of their CVs
- New original programming was announced featuring (youth magnets) Katie Couric and Jeff Goldblum
- Yahoo announced first quarter profits for the first time in 13 quarters – the key driver? A layoff of 2000 employees. (if only they had 2000 people to lay off every quarter!)
- Yahoo inexplicably rolls out an analytics package to “compete” with Google Analytics.
- Yahoo has intimated an upcoming patent war with Facebook.
Nothing being done by Yahoo is addressing the need to replenish their user pipeline, their revenue shortfalls or bloat. It’s telling that the biggest revenue opportunity right now is to file lawsuits for patent infringement. It’s as if a kettle of vultures is circling Yahoo intent to rip every last bit from its carcass. And as Yahoo’s descent accelerates I can’t help but wonder who will be next?