Monday, June 24, 2024

David Pogue’s Yahoo Web home gutted in cost-cutting purge


Yahoo's once-iconic San Francisco billboard, pictured here in 2011.

In January of 2014, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's keynote at CES in Las Vegas featured the recently launched Yahoo Tech, the company's technology news "digital magazine." She had hired former New York Times technology columnist David Pogue in October of 2013 as the site's architect and shining star and brought in a stable of other editorial talent to create digital magazines for other "verticals" (food, cars, music, and health among them) as part of her big turnaround strategy for the company. But the turnaround never materialized, and now the sites are being shut down or scaled down.

Dan Tynan, editor-in-chief at Yahoo Tech, revealed his departure in an e-mail to staff published by Politico today. "Well, that was not entirely unexpected," Tynan wrote in the memo. "Eight Hundred and Four days after taking the purple, my career as a Yahoo is over." Politico reported that Yahoo intended to shut down Yahoo Tech along with a flight of other sites.

However, a Yahoo spokesperson told Ars that Yahoo Tech was not being shut down—but several other brands are. And Tynan's departure is part of a broader layoff being announced today. "In early February Yahoo shared a plan for the future, with this new plan came some very difficult decisions and changes to our business," the spokesperson said. "As a result of these changes some jobs have been eliminated and those employees will be notified today. We thank those employees for their outstanding service to Yahoo and will treat these employees with the respect and fairness they deserve."

The purge is part of Mayer's effort to cut costs at Yahoo as the company attempts to develop a strategy to deal with what is both the company's biggest asset and something of a strategic curse—its massive windfall from an investment in the Chinese e-commerce website Alibaba. The company’s board and major investors are keen to cut away the Alibaba holdings from the rest of the company, which has, as Ars reported recently, failed to make money on its own.

After the US government indicated it would not approve a tax-free spinoff of the Alibaba holdings as a separate company, there was talk of spinning off or selling Yahoo's Internet holdings instead. But Mayer advocated for cost-cutting measures to preserve the Internet company. In an earnings call earlier this month, Yahoo executives announced that they were moving to "simplify" Yahoo's information business to focus on the parts of the company that have been most successful: Yahoo News, Yahoo Sports (the platform for Yahoo's growing fantasy sports business), Yahoo Finance, and Yahoo Lifestyle.

The shape of that simplification became apparent today. In a Tumblr post today (Tumblr being another one of Mayer's acquisitions to revive Yahoo), Yahoo global editor in chief Martha Nelson wrote, "To that end, today we will begin phasing out the following Digital Magazines: Yahoo Food, Yahoo Health, Yahoo Parenting, Yahoo Makers, Yahoo Travel, Yahoo Autos and Yahoo Real Estate."

"As we make these changes, we acknowledge the talent and dedication of an extraordinary group of journalists who brought new and newsworthy content to Yahoo," she continued. "While these Digital Magazines will no longer be published, you will continue to find the topics they covered, as well as style, celebrity, entertainment, politics, tech and much more across our network."


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Author: Red

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