Saul Hansell offers an intriguing suggestion in a blog post at NYTimes.com today: namely, that Yahoo needs an editor-in-chief to right its ship.
It has been debated many times whether Yahoo is a media company or an Internet company. And, make no mistake, there is a difference. Google, I would argue, is not a media company, but is rather an Internet company that makes a market in online advertising. They happen to have content of a sort, but it isn’t their raison d’etre.
On the other hand, Yahoo is one of the top destinations for its original and syndicated content, not merely links. As such, it could potentially benefit from a high-level editorial executive. Whether or not that person exists at the top of the pyramid makes for another interesting debate.
Hansell zeroes in on the challenge as he sees it:
part of the company’s problems have come from thinking of its business as a portfolio of 100 loosely connected sites: Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Games, Yahoo Briefcase and so on. What’s been lacking is a unified vision of what Yahoo stands for and how its parts fit together into a coherent experience.
In some respects, by tying everything together, Yahoo could become the New York Times or NBC of a new generation. By providing a variety of information and entertainment options in a more unified manner, it might be able to provide greater brand clarity than exists today.