Wednesday, October 29, 2008

3 years at Yahoo! (Almost)

Back in January 2006, I was searching for an internship in an Internet company, a pioneer. I applied to Google, MSN and ... Yahoo!

If I had to provide estimations on hotels count in France or to do other HR tests at Google, I actually had the opportunity to share with my futur tutor about the industry at Yahoo!

My role was a bit undefined when I entered Yahoo! France Marketing team and that's what decided me to go for Yahoo! I saw an opportunity to have more responsibilities. My prediction was quite accurate, I was not even sitting with the rest of the Marketing team, but with the media producers of Rue Torricelli in Paris office. I took over the role of promoting all Yahoo! FR products on the Yahoo! Network. We call this On-network marketing. My closer colleagues were in United Kingdom and Germany. I've been quite dedicated to deliver some thousands of media plan's lines, bidding to get inventory against sales team in a healthy competition.

At the end of the day this model was wrong! Showing a Yahoo! shopping ad to a user checking his email is close to pointless, even if it's actually making money. That's a great way to generate dissatisfaction, reducing the clarity of the value proposition and decreasing performance.

I had the opportunity to extend my internship as employee, but I preferred entering my master degree at HEC Paris where I've learn more about Digital Business Strategy. I was financing it by operating a 50% margin on line "gaming" service, delivering websites for companies, and improving my SEO skills :)

After 4 months out of Yahoo!, I was back after a direct marketing campaign sent to Brad Garlinghouse (VP Communication and Communities). My new mission was to recommend how to maximise Yahoo! user value. Yes! I was part of the "Make Yahoo! more social" recommenders in 2007, we'll find out soon if we executed well on this one...

At this time I met George Hadjigeorgiou, General Manager Yahoo! Communication & Communities in Europe, a very dedicated and focus Manager. He hired me (bad choice!) as Product Marketing Manager of Yahoo! Mail to integrate his team in London. My role quickly took a European scale, making the experience more relevant to each segment of Yahoo! mail users (from newbies to brand advocates) and positioning the product in United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain and Italy.

After 7-8 months I evolved to a Product Management role. Learning a lot about operating a product, how to measure and increase 20 millions users' satisfaction score. Yahoo! Mail is really the most interesting product to work on at Yahoo!, at least in Europe. Users are very exigent when it comes to their emails.

Part of my team was relocated to Switzerland as we are moving our European headquarter to Rolle. I've also seen the first mass layoff at Yahoo! last January. Business rules the world... The company started to focus more on priority assets to ensure we make our starting point job much better than anyone else. The company didn't focus enough for sure.

Oh I almost forget, the Microsoft story!
I guess people like to work for Yahoo! and think it's already too big (?) Maybe we'll go through this again soon, probably, looking at our YHOO share price... I've nothing to say about that, I personally don't see the value for our company.

The last quarter, I've been doing more Product Development, also contributing to more global projects with partners. I spent some times in Sunnyvale to meet US product management, UED and engineering teams. It was kind of amazing to be on this big Yahoo! campus where most of the things happen...

It was two weeks ago, companies just received the "RIP Good times" deck from Sequoia Capital, so the valley started to layoff massively. "Go Real or Go Home". La messe est dite as we say in french... Yahoo!, just like the others companies has to execute lighter and to focus more.

We are entering a new exciting period, now entrepreneurs don't have that much choice anymore, they need to go real, cash is king but never forget about user satisfaction. Everybody will need both to stay alive during the next 18th months.