Yahoo seeks closer Facebook ties

Chief executive also plans to focus on mobile applications to bolster turnaround efforts

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 February, 2013, 4:53am


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Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer said she planned to focus on mobile applications and strengthen ties with Facebook to bolster turnaround efforts at the biggest US internet portal.

"A lot of the strengths of Facebook are available to Yahoo users," Mayer said on Tuesday at an investor conference in San Francisco hosted by Goldman Sachs. "That's something we want to build upon. We have a real commitment to bringing valuable content to our users."

Since Mayer arrived as chief executive last year, Yahoo has ceded share in its core business of display advertising. This year, Yahoo's share of the US market will slip to 8 per cent from 9.3 per cent in 2012, according to researcher EMarketer. Google will widen its lead to 18 per cent from 15 per cent last year, while Facebook will advance to 15 per cent from 14 per cent.

To court users and advertisers, Mayer said she would focus on "the dozen or so applications that people use all the time on their phone". That means slimming down from the 60 to 75 or so applications Yahoo now offers.

"How many people at least once a day mark an e-mail as unread on their phone, just so they can go back later and read it on their PC?" Mayer said. "There's a clear opportunity for innovation. The tool just doesn't work that well right now. These are the things we're thinking about."

Turnaround efforts would target changes that could get users interacting more, and for longer periods of time, Mayer said last month. In the same way that recent updates to the Flickr image-sharing service got users uploading 25 per cent more photos, and an overhaul of Yahoo Mail resulted in a higher portion of ads being clicked, the company hoped to refresh sites such as Yahoo Finance and Yahoo News, she said.

To help its push for product improvements, Yahoo hired 120 new employees with computer science degrees in the fourth quarter, she said. She also brought on Sandy Gould, a former recruiting executive at Walt Disney, to lead talent acquisition and development.

Enhancing social features was crucial to Yahoo's success, Mayer said, as she reinforced her preference to partner with companies such as Google, Apple and Facebook rather than build expensive new products.

"One of the things that people really want to do is share their interests with their friends," she said. "We need to have sharing built as a fundamental component."