They say many women put on weight after childbirth. Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer has decided to shed some – in her company. The 37-year-old former Google engineer took up the job to revive the once-shining, now-ailing Internet media giant when she was pregnant, and in September, bounced back to work a mere two weeks after delivering her child.
And Yahoo has announced it will close its public chat rooms from December 14 and stop its Yahoo Messenger’s interoperability with Windows Messenger (which in anyway is being folded into Skype). It is also closing a Web-based messaging tool called PingBox.
It is time to be silent for a minute to mourn the death of the public chat room. Time was when Yahoo rooms were the leading chat hub, classified by topics, countries and cities, but it all fizzled out. Yahoo Chat suffered partly because its private rooms fell victim to child sex-related abuse that raised legal problems. However, it mainly lost out to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter – one of the many buses it has missed.
Today, Twitter is the place for chats, despite its haphazard follower-based format. President Obama hosted a chat on Twitter last week. Google Plus has also been experimenting with its chat-like “hangouts”.
Looking back, Yahoo, with its early leadership as a “horizontal portal” could have been a Google, a YouTube or a Facebook but clearly did not see the next waves.
Now, Mayer is trying to ride the “predominantly mobile wave” – the same turf as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerburg. It is ready to unveil a new touchscreen-friendly home page under a codenamed “Project Homerun”.
Last week, it acquired the acquisition of a video chat software firm, OnTheAir which was launched only in March. OnTheAir allows users to host video conversations similar to TV chat shows where its group members can be called by their host.
So, chat is not dead after all. Yahoo is clearly jumping into the “new TV” bandwagon using a new style of video chat that may be in line with its role as a media company. Online video is a good place to be in.
Yahoo, with $7 billion in cash raised from selling its stakes in China’s Alibaba.com, is also asserting its platform neutrality and embracing the exploding Android phones.
If Mayer finally gets the next wave, it would be as good as a new company – virtually a new baby that the CEO would deliver.