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Sharks are circling in the post-Semel Yahoo!…what will Jerry Yang do?

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Soon after I wrote Monday’s post, the news that Terry Semel was out at Yahoo! as the CEO was all over the news (Techcrunch and Valleywag).  While there is lots of debate whether Semel was pushed or jumped and whether Jerry Yang is a temporary CEO or more permanent, these aren’t as important as what’s next for the once giant of search.

When the web was young, Yahoo! was search.  Heck, Yahoo! was also free e-mail and decent IM.  Then a couple kids came up with a better way to search and find stuff online.  Yahoo!, if you remember, embraced organic search late in the game and relied on it’s popular and growing index of sites.  An index that was compiled by people.  That was a fatal error.

Now Yahoo! is playing second fiddle to Google but, Yahoo! is huge and has a ton of great things under its tent (Flickr, del.icio.us,MyBlogLog, YahooMail, IM and on…) and people are wondering what’s next.  The Times of London and the NYT both discuss News Corps overtures to Yahoo! with giving MySpace to Yahoo! in exchange for a stake in the company.  There is even talk of letting Google power their search.  I’m surprised that a merger with Microsoft hasn’t come up more strongly this week.

I’m no pundit, but Yahoo is becoming an also ran.  They haven’t leveraged the the “hot startups” they purchased nearly as well as they should have.  Panama was late and might have come too late in the game to make a difference.

From where I sit, I think that Yahoo!’s best hope might be to become a part of a large publishing group, maybe sell off some parts that don’t support that end and move on.

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