Ten months into
her role at Yahoo!, Carol Bartz fended off repeated questions and comparisons
with Google, at a lunch meeting with editors in Delhi. She was on her first
visit to India as CEO of the leading Internet company, having visited India
several times in earlier roles.
"Google is a search company," Bartz said. "Search is just
3% of what users do online. The rest of the time theyre connecting, emailing,
consuming information and entertainment." That, Bartz said, is where Yahoo!s
strength is, as the front page to the Internet for the worlds users. She
added that three of four people in India, who access the Internet, do it through
Yahoo!. "Yes, we do compete with Google for search, which is half our business,"
she said in response to a query.
Yahoo! is also a media company, the worlds biggest, said
Bartz, with 600 mn users, and 9 bn ads served to it daily. "We have the biggest
ad network in the world. We lead in display advertising. We have the top
scientists in display advertising, a 350-strong lab with PhDs in economics,
sociology, and other areas," she added. Yahoo!s top two services by revenue
were display advertising, and search advertising.
Bartz also described meetings with Prime Minster, Dr
Manmohan Singh, and later with Nandan Nilekani, to understand the UID project.
Responding to a question, Bartz said Yahoo! had no plans
to offer cloud-based services to enterprises. "We have a private cloud. We dont
intend it to be a public cloud. Yes, the margins may be higher in the enterprise
business, but we dont intend to be there." Bartz said, adding that some of
Yahoo!s central cloud research and development was happening in India, at
She however fended off queries on what exactly Yahoo! was,
other than to say it was the center of peoples lives online. "I dont mind it
being described as a portal," Bartz said. But pressed further, she declined to
describe her choice of the category Yahoo! would fall into if it was not a
Over the past two years, Yahoo! also made investments in
Tyroo (an ad network), CallEasy, and BharatMatrimony, apart from a tie-up with
Carol Bartz, formerly CEO and executive chairperson of
Autodesk, joined Yahoo! as CEO and member of the Board of Yahoo! in January this
year. The fifteen-year-old, $7 bn Internet services giant went through abortive
merger discussions with Microsoft over several years, followed this year by a
ten-year deal, where Yahoo! search would be powered by Microsoft, as it once was
powered by Google. "This time, however, we control the user experience," Bartz
said. "The deal makes a lot of sense as it leaves us free to focus on things
other than developing search technology." The deal was criticized by analysts
for giving up core expertise to a rival, with Bartz countering that saying that
Yahoo! was not a search company. Bartz has had her hands improving Yahoo!s
operating margin, which she has described as terrible.
Prasanto K Roy