Is Yahoo in a Nosedive- Google Moves at Light Speed
Richard is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
In the late '90s Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) was the coolest search engine on the planet. Wait, let me rephrase that, the coolest man made index of web pages on the planet.
See, Yahoo gained popularity originally in part because all of the other search engine companies' algorithms for determining top results were easily spammable; remember Infoseek, Altavista, Lycos, Excite, etc? No? I don't either. But Yahoo had humans who decided what would go in their directory, so you could pretty much be assured that you were actually going to find a real web page, instead of being redirected to porn (certainly you weren't looking for that.) So while finding the few web pages available, we decided to start using Yahoo, for news, finance, email; it became a habit for me.
Then along came Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), refining their algorithms on a continual basis. Sure, they got hit with spam, but their engineers learned and quickly changed things up on the spambots. Meanwhile the web was experiencing exponential growth in websites, and Yahoo couldn't hire enough manpower to humanly index them, not to mention a lot of the sites originally added to their directory had become passe.
I can't find what I want with Yahoo anymore. Let me try this Google. Pretty good. But they don't offer all the stuff that Yahoo does. What I'll do is search using Google, and all else I'll continue to do with Yahoo- email, news, etc.
Fast forward; three years ago I get my first Android phone. I have to set up a gmail account to go with it. WAAAYYYYY superior to Yahoo mail. No spam, Yahoo, lots. Today, I give out my Yahoo email as my default "spam me please" account.
Wait, what's this black bar atop the once clean Google homepage? I hate it! I hate it! My friend joked that it was the biggest reason to short Google he could find. Now it's like white noise, blending into the background, it doesn't bother me at all, in fact, I find it useful.
Meanwhile, I get more and more annoyed with Yahoo. Yahoo wants to share the news stories I read on Facebook in an effort to gain more traffic. I accidentally found out, and had to spend time figuring how to unsubscribe from the app. Annoying.
Try reading one of your emails on Yahoo, and click the back button on your browser. You don't get return to your inbox, but to whatever page you were on before, often the login page; if you don't have your user name and password saved, you'll have to re-enter them. Joy.
The Yahoo financial message boards, king when I first got on the net, now a jumbled mess- a search for "Hewlett Packard" in stocks A-Z gave the following result. Sorry, we did not find results for "hewlett packard" ... So they still consider Yahoo a search engine?
They'll consistently link incorrectly to columns I desire to read. Recently on Yahoo Finance, I got redirected to several "link not found" pages. To actually go to the articles in question, I copied and pasted the title into the top of of my Chrome browser to find them on Google. (removing the extra step needed to go to google.com) These "bugs" are costing Yahoo customers, and they've been going on for awhile!
On the other end of the Internet world, Google continues to gain strength. It gives away its Android operating system to build its search engine moat, get people on gmail, and now Google.com is becoming a portal, rather than a straight search engine.
Google might release beta versions of software too readily, but they are continually innovating. In research for this article, I used Google News for the first time, and found it superior to Yahoo in terms of the fact that on my news page, I could set-up individual topics of my choosing. With Yahoo I could add topics from a selection pre-chosen by the company, but nothing specific like "solar energy." (If there is a way, it wasn't readily apparent as it was with Google)
It's not like Yahoo hasn't improved- they use Bing (NASDAQ: MSFT) to power search so they can devote more manpower to enhance their other products, they have recently started producing some pretty good original financial content by way of videos, plus Yahoo Sports isn't a bad alternative to ESPN (owned by Disney (NYSE: DIS), and a possible buyer of Yahoo), but Google has just continued to innovate rapidly, while Yahoo seems to plod along.
Now Yahoo is contemplating lay-offs to stem costs, most likely at the expense of long term innovation and earnings, to bolster immediate results and mollify disgruntled shareholders. Think that's good for morale? As opposed to say, Google, where everyone I've spoken with who works for the company loves it. Who last week poached the head of Yahoo Labs to come work for them. It's hard to find highly sought after engineers jumping ship from Google unless they are starting their own company.
So what does all this have to do with investing and your money? It's not this one incident/ company comparison. This is just an example of recognizing patterns and trends. If you actively see you and your friends moving in the same direction, then take note. This will fairly quickly impact the results of the companies in question, and you can then act upon it before the stocks run up (or down.) Three years ago all my friends were switching to Apple notebooks, around Hollywood people were calling them the "real computers." I wish I had bought Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) stock back then.
You might say, "Duh, it's so obvious," but how many of the so called "experts" were caught unaware by the real estate meltdown and banking crisis, when half-million dollar loans were going out to truckers making thirty thousand dollars a year. It's obvious right? Yeah, it is, to the 0.1% of the population who acted on it.
Spot the trend as it occurs, as Google begins more and more of a portal, Yahoo's market share and page views will collapse. Slowly at first, then quickly. And to those of you who argue that Yahoo is still a cash cow, and will have have visitors returning for perpetuity, I reply, "Sure, to check their spam email accounts."
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|Yahoo||YHOO||17.8||0%||Okay, why is it valued so highly if what I have stated here is correct? Either the street overvalues the stock or because they are pricing in takeover possibilities/ their Asian assets. Likeliest suitors are MSFT and DIS|
|GOOG||20.58||0%||My favorite company, a little more richly valued than in the past, but has a lot of cash on hand. MOT acquisition might hamper margins short run.|
|Microsoft||MSFT||11.8||2.50%||while Windows and PC's are under assault by Apple, Chrome, and IPads, we'll have to wait to see how Windows 8, and the Nokia/HTC/ whoever else Softy sued Windows based phone does.|
|Apple||AAPL||16||0%||P/E lower than YHOO and 100 billion in cash, firing on all cylinders. Which stock would you rather own?|
|Disney||DIS||16.4||1.40%||A true conglomerate. Bought Infoseek back in the day. Not often mentioned, but a possible buyer of YHOO as Disney has a lot of Internet property|
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