Live From Yahoo's "What Matters Most" Event

17We’re here in Sunnyvale at Yahoo’s headquarters for an event Yahoo is calling “Connecting You to What Matters Most”. They are using these event to go over several updates to the key products that Yahoo offers.

Below find my live notes (paraphrased)

Elisa Steele, Chief Marketing Officer of Yahoo is giving some opening remarks right now.

  • New Yahoo Homepage brings the best of the web forward.
  • You can choose Yahoo Sports or you can choose ESPN. You can choose Twitter, Facebook, whatever ways are relevant to you.

Bryan Lamkin, SVP of Applications

  • Only been here about 4 months (Elisa has been here 5 months). He was at Adobe prior.
  • What I learned at Adobe is now scaling to hundreds of million customers.
  • Yahoo Mail is the #1 property people click on when they come to the homepage.
  • I think it’s great that people can choose Gmail from our homepage, but my job is to make you want to choose Yahoo mail.
  • We want to bring social to the front of the Yahoo Mail experience.
  • What do people need on the web? They want an easy way to check in, simple tools to navigate to the sites they want to visit, and a timely view into what’s happening around the world. We are working to build the bridge between “My World and The World”
  • 21The desire to connect drives all of this.
  • The 4 key components of how we want to get this done: Rich media, smart services, convergence, anytime and anywhere.
  • Mail has been around for over a decade, but we need to re-architecture, based on the Zimbra technology, which you will see the fruits of more next year.

Yahoo Mail Demo – John Kremer, VP of Yahoo Mail

  • Nickname Karl Malone “The Mailman”
  • Mail redesign. We’ve improved a lot just based on user feedback. The social vision is finally starting to take shape.
  • Status-casting within mail. This is going out to 300 million users. This changes the game of status-casting.
  • 31Mail is no longer email-only. It’s email plus SMS and now social connections.
  • People hunt and peck in mail to find the messages that matter most. We take those messages based on connections and bubble them to the top on the What’s New page.
  • We realize that we needed to improve the font size from the Asian markets.
  • And drawing attention to our open apps. Both internal and external apps show up here in the left hand corner.
  • Increasing the amount of attachment size to 25 MB (up from 10 MB)
  • And we’ve built-in a new way to easily attach photos (looks nice).
  • When you send an email to a contact, you get a sent message confirmation page with some of the social elements of what that person you sent the mail to is up to (if she recently uploaded new Flickr photos, for example).
  • New Evite application within Yahoo Mail. You can set up a party right from within Mail, and it auto-fills from the Yahoo Mail address book. Not quite ready yet, will be available soon.
  • New version of Yahoo Mail for Mobile, works on 400 devices. Launches today on Safari for the iPhone. Additional devices on September 1.
  • Largest mail platform by a factor of 2 over our nearest competitor in the U.S.

Dave Merriwether, Sr. Director Yahoo Messenger

  • 41New beta of Messenger today launching in 25 countries. This is Version 10.
  • You can now choose language right from your sign-in screen. We’re #1 in IM in the U.S. but we also have a massive global footprint.
  • New Insider page that pops up when you launch Messenger. Similar to the new Yahoo frontpage.
  • Mail, News and Yahoo Buzz are all highlighted (sidenote: Buzz is still around?)
  • Status updates are featured prominently. User can now just see the updates from people (tweets, articles they voted for on Buzz, etc)
  • High quality video call. (Quality does look nice in the demo). Share photos during the video call. Fullscreen works too.

Larry Cornett, VP Search Products and Design

  • It’s been an exciting couple of weeks for search, huh? (Laughs, MSFT deal).
  • Working on a new Yahoo Search page design that we will demo today.
  • Why? This is aligned with the new look and feel of the new Yahoo Homepage, and the new Mail. We’re unifying the Yahoo experience. It’s a more personally relevant experience. The web is huge, you do not and cannot care about all of it – so we’re making it about you.
  • People aren’t aware of everything we’ve been working on. Now we’re bringing some of those features front and center. More on web structuring – “web of objects” (more talk of this from their last event)
  • New three column layout, like on the Yahoo homepage.
  • Direct display allows them in inject breaking news about an event. But it can move if the event is older or not as relevant.
  • Most changes will be in the left hand column which is largely filters and search applications. Search applications, site filters, data filters.
  • 5Demo time
  • Query “How to make sushi” – results have wikiHow, Mahalo, eHow, YouTube.
  • Say you want the YouTube view, open the full size video right on the results page.
  • Maybe you want to just eat the sushi. Query it in your area and get the Yelp results right on the page.
  • Searching for people has been Google’s domain. We’re taking that away from them. (damn, them fightin words)
  • Search for a persons name, find them on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, FriendFeed.
  • “When we launch this, you’re going to come to Yahoo to search for people.”
  • Do a calculation search, and a simple calculator app pops up.
  • Bringing our search technology to the rest of Yahoo – Yahoo Real Estate for example. Do a search there and it puts you back into the Yahoo Search page.
  • We are committed to continuing to invest in Search (despite MSFT deal).

Prabhakar Raghavan, SVP Labs and Search Strategy

  • 6A glimpse of the deep science that’s behind these new advances.
  • 6 billion times a day users come to us and say “give us a page”
  • 4 key pieces behind what we’re doing:
  • Content Optimization – Machine Learning
  • Audience Engagement Metrics – Social Sciences
  • Ad Optimization – Economics
  • Web of Objects – Search
  • The bragging rights is no longer about how many pages you serve up, but how many objects you can serve.

Elisa Steele up again. Time for Q&A:

  • Question 1: These are great if you have high speed up and down, but what about slow speed connections?
  • We’re dynamically resizing images in photo attachments. Audio sync also works well, maybe video isn’t right for you if you are bandwidth constrained. On many parts of the network we detect what time of connection you have.
  • Question 2: Can you give us a better sense of how your research and advances are collaborated with Microsoft and Bing?
  • The agreement calls for Microsoft to supply us with algorithmic results (images and video), we’re both free to innovate on top of that layer. Our frontend experience will evolve differently from that of Bing. We want to compete on the frontend experience.
  • Question 3: Can you talk more about your commitment to search? Sure, there is some sharing, but there will be transfers to Redmond. Is this a distractions?
  • Sure, it’s somewhat of a distraction, but it doesn’t detract from our intention.
  • Question 4: When you look at status casting, and all those features. Are you laying claim to being the biggest social network?
  • I wouldn’t look at it that way, this is about personalized connections. Twitter and Facebook do a great job of doing status-casting, but maybe our customers don’t always want to go to a site just to get those. Social is a fabric across the network, rather than a destination.
  • Question 5: What happens when Bing comes into Yahoo?
  • Bing will provide algorithmic results, but how we paint it is up to us. And we can add onto it.
  • Question 6: Back to the social question – why would people use these things as social outlets?
  • One of the things we’re doing with status, we recognize people are using Twitter and Facebook and we integrate with them via apps on the homepage. But there are plenty of people not using Twitter and Facebook. We think all these things will merge – you update your status once and it goes everywhere. We want to put the social updates in context.
  • Question 7: ETA for search improvements?
  • For what you say today is in testing right now, it’s a large test so you may see it. Full launch later this year.
  • 7Question 8: Are you going to help users migrate from other mail services?
  • We’ve been doing that for a while, but with the new announcements we want to make sure it works really well.
  • Question 9: Marketshare fight with Bing?
  • We just want to be the best frontend and gain marketshare that way.
  • Question 10: How do you surface mail that you want to see?
  • You can filter by contacts and also connections on other Yahoo properties. After you connect, these people pop up it’s driven by frequency of connection.
  • Question 11: If the Bing deal goes through, how different with the search results look on Yahoo?
  • We are not a version of Bing. We are the Yahoo search experience.” On the advertising side we have some freedom, but some is provided by Microsoft.
  • Question 12: Why did you do the deal then? We are 400 people going to Microsoft?
  • We won’t speak to numbers of people actually moving, but what you have to take into account is that from Yahoo’s point of view there is a reduction in costs. Second, we no longer have to focus on some of the web crawling, since Microsoft will handle that. But the frontend remains with us, in competition with Bing. It’s a complex deal, it’s not as easy as an acquisition.
  • Question 13: So in a sense Microsoft is mining the ore and you’re doing the refining? What about social network going forward – why go to Yahoo and not Facebook or Twitter?
  • Our core goal is to satisfy users in context. Remember also that some people aren’t on Facebook or Twitter. If they are, we make it so they can interact with their networks. It’s just like with search: “We are not a search destination, we are an information destination.”