But there was another source even more dangerous: other Internet startups. " I said "Oh, ok." Because I didn't realize either how much search traffic was worth. If they had, Google presumably wouldn't have expended any effort on enterprise search.By 1998, Yahoo was the beneficiary of a de facto Ponzi scheme. One reason they were excited was Yahoo's revenue growth. The startups then used the money to buy ads on Yahoo to get traffic. If circumstances had been different, the people running Yahoo might have realized sooner how important search was.But they were expensive compared to what they were worth. This was why they were trying to get people to start calling them "portals" instead of "search engines." Despite the actual meaning of the word portal, what they meant by it was a site where users would find what they wanted on the site itself, instead of just passing through on their way to other destinations, as they did at a search engine.
Users train the search: you can start out finding matches based on mere textual similarity, and as users buy more stuff the search results get better and better. I couldn't tell whether I was explaining it badly, or he was just very poker faced.
I didn't realize the answer till later, after I went to work at Yahoo. The reason Yahoo didn't care about a technique that extracted the full value of traffic was that advertisers were already overpaying for it.
The cubicles were full of programmers writing code, product managers thinking about feature lists and ship dates, support people (yes, there were actually support people) telling users to restart their browsers, and so on, just like a software company. One reason was the way they made money: by selling ads. If anyone at Yahoo considered the idea that they should be a technology company, the next thought would have been that Microsoft would crush them.
In 1995 it was hard to imagine a technology company making money that way. It's hard for anyone much younger than me to understand the fear Microsoft still inspired in 1995.
Which caused yet more revenue growth for Yahoo, and further convinced investors the Internet was worth investing in. But they had the most opaque obstacle in the world between them and the truth: money.
When I realized this one day, sitting in my cubicle, I jumped up like Archimedes in his bathtub, except instead of "Eureka! "Both the Internet startups and the Procter & Gambles were doing brand advertising. As long as customers were writing big checks for banner ads, it was hard to take search seriously. Hackers But Yahoo also had another problem that made it hard to change directions.Advertisers were willing to pay ridiculous amounts for banner ads.So Yahoo's sales force had evolved to exploit this source of revenue.Monday, January 29, 7- pm, Chicago Avenue & Main Street Branch Aging writer Kilgore Trout, finds to his horror that a Midwest car dealer is taking his fiction as truth.What follows is murderously funny satire, as Vonnegut looks at war, sex, racism, success, politics and pollution in America and reminds us how to see truth.August 2010When I went to work for Yahoo after they bought our startup in 1998, it felt like the center of the world. It was supposed to be what Google turned out to be. The problems that hosed Yahoo go back a long time, practically to the beginning of the company.