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THIS EDITION: YAHOO SUFFERED FROM H.U.A. SYNDROME

Wednesday, June 20, 2007
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Several years ago, Yahoo was a shining light on the hill for me. They seemed so smart at a time when AOL was busy shooting themselves in both feet while simultaneously being entangled in their own underwear. I felt that Yahoo had a clear vision for the online future. When they opened a substantial office in Santa Monica, CA staffed with people who were charged with developing video ideas, I thought that was a move with great potential. It was like they could see around corners as to how rapidly increasing broadband penetration would free the internet from the shackles of being silent and static.

Mine is a small business whose primary business is creating video content around entrepreneurs and their stories. We produce the Making It! TV show that has been on broadcast television for 18 years, which means that we have one of the largest video libraries of interviews with small business owners. Along the way we’ve gotten a graduate course in the world of small business.

Yahoo has a small business section on their portal web site, and so I thought that those smart, forward-seeing folks would welcome the opportunity to discuss using some of our video as streaming content.  So, on June 3, 2003 we sent a letter of inquiry to the then VP of Yahoo small business to explore supplying some video to their site, giving them a competitive advantage. From the Yahoo end, there was simply silence and then a statement that they were focused on subscription services and didn’t see special value in streaming video for small business. Then when I saw that Lloyd Braun, a real television executive had boarded the Yahoo cruise, it seemed that someone who would see value in video was in the executive suite. So, on January 27th of 2005 I sent a nicely explanatory letter to Mr. Braun on the recommendation of a mutual friend. This time, the silence was extended. In fact, it extended through his hasty departure from hotel happiness.

Since that time video on the internet has exploded, and we’ve struck a video license deal with a content syndicator. We have been happily digitizing our little hearts out to supply hundreds of pieces for them. As you know by now, Yahoo has guided Terry Semel to the exit as Jerry Yang moves back into the big chair for some period of time. Does Yahoo have a robust video presence for the small business pages of their site? Not yet. What you may ask is the not so rare H.U.A. syndrome I mentioned earlier? Head Up A**, to be properly pronounced hew-ah. Are they the only ones afflicted in this way? Of course not. Wait until I relate some of my advertising agency encounters.

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