After spending a lot of time speaking with Yahoo employees, partners, and customers, new CEO Carol Bartz has come to realize the importance of giving consumers a “Wow experience,” she told investors in the first quarter conference call. But they have yet to experience that from owning the stock. Yahoo reported a 13 percent decline in revenues for the first quarter of 2009 to $1.6 billion, while net income dropped 78 percent to $118 million.
Google, in comparison, last week reported a 3 percent decline in first quarter, but was able to manage a 9 percent increase in net income. Update: As a comment points out, Google saw a 3% decrease in revenue from Q42008 to Q12009, but saw a 6% growth year over year for Q1. Yahoo saw losses for both metrics.
Diving into the numbers, total online advertising revenues were down 12 percent. Breaking it down even further, search advertising revenues on Yahoo sites declined 3 percent to $399 million, while display advertising on Yahoo sites declined 13 percent to $371 million. The biggest decline, however, was from affiliate ad network revenues, which were down 16 percent to $511 million.
Page view growth also slowed down to 8 percent from 20 percent growth a year ago and 15 percent growth during the fourth quarter. On the search side, query volume grew but revenue-per-search declined as commercial queries and click-through rates saw weakness. Bartz puts a positive spin on Yahoo’s results and claims that it is actually gaining share of advertising dollars compared to the overall industry:
I think our search results, . . . it is like online window shopping, people are grazing around, just not clicking to buy. Marketing budgets have been slashed a heck of a lot more than any declines in these metrics. It is my belief that we must be gaining share.
Bartz announced another round of layoffs, which will affect 5 percent of the workforce, or about 675 people (out of 13,500). The cuts will take place within the next two weeks. Bartz also indicated during the conference call that she is focusing on the products and properties which drive the bulk of Yahoo’s traffic and revenues, including the homepage, Yahoo Sports, Yahoo News, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Mail, and Yahoo Mobile. Her three-pronged strategy is to globalize the platform, build “fantastic products to deeply engage users, and to improve the return from its advertising platforms.
Asked about discussions with Microsoft, Bartz had no comment. Later on she did manage to drop the F-word, though (but quickly apologized for the slip). The exact quote, said at the end of the Q&A in frustration over all the layers of extra management at Yahoo, was:
There were engineers in almost every country, and way too many product people. We had one product management person for every three engineers,We had a lot of people telling engineers what to do but nobody fucking doing anything. Excuse me. I knew that would slip out one of these times.
And that was just her second conference call as Yahoo CEO.