And they’re off… Again. More soap opera and cynicism erupts from three of the top performing search engines as Yahoo! sheds executives almost as fast as share value and Microsoft grumbles about Google being “anti-competitive”. Who needs WWE when you have giants like this wrestling each day?
Last week, Yahoo! lost even more top executives; Joshua Schachter (he of Delicious origin) and Brad Garlinghouse – this follows recent announcements from Caterina Fake and Steward Butterfield (of Flickr foundings), as well as search advertising exec Qi Lu and senior vice-president of search Vish Makhijani.
These names may mean little to anyone who does not follow the search scene but one thing which should be pretty obvious is that such a brain drain happening so quickly is unlikely to bode well for the engine. I would go so far as to say that Yahoo! is breaking apart and – without fast action soon – could lose its edge and its long-secure place as the world’s second most popular search engine.
It interests me, however, that the disintegration of Yahoo! is not being caused by any drop off in search engine figures. The number of people using search engines rises steadily; if Yahoo! ceases to be a main portal then MSN and Google will mop up their traffic. Search tools remain the best way for consumers to find their way around the web and if Yahoo! breaks, it will be as a result of self-destruction.