Is Yahoo in Pain?

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Saul Hansell at The Times issued a rather determined smackdown against Yahoo this morning, using Google’s YouTube acquisition as a fulcrum on which to hang the argument that Semel & Co. are lagging severely behind the big search kahuna in technology, media deals and talent retention.

All I can say is, pity the marathoner who’s in second place. He’s always worse off than the one in third, tenth or 10,000th for that matter.

While a bunch of the allegations in the story are true – Yahoo’s lost several lucrative distribution deals for its contextual network, the Panama search interface is behind schedule – others are not. For instance, the phenomenal success of Flickr clearly shows the company is not “losing its initiative” with regard to social networking, as the story says. Google getting YouTube is a black eye for Yahoo only in the narrow estimation of the investment community and neo-fetishists. Remember: Yahoo is a company with half a billion global users. It has only rarely been a great innovator; rather, it’s strengths are in mass services.

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