Users train the search: you can start out finding matches based on mere textual similarity, and as users buy more stuff the search results get better and better. I couldn't tell whether I was explaining it badly, or he was just very poker faced.I didn't realize the answer till later, after I went to work at Yahoo. The reason Yahoo didn't care about a technique that extracted the full value of traffic was that advertisers were already overpaying for it.Technology companies made money by selling their software to users. Imagine a company with several times the power Google has now, but way meaner. Yahoo watched them crush the first hot Internet company, Netscape.
But unfortunately Yahoo actually tried to be one, sort of.
Project managers at Yahoo were called "producers," for example, and the different parts of the company were called "properties." But what Yahoo really needed to be was a technology company, and by trying to be something else, they ended up being something that was neither here nor there.
August 2010When I went to work for Yahoo after they bought our startup in 1998, it felt like the center of the world. It was supposed to be what Google turned out to be. The problems that hosed Yahoo go back a long time, practically to the beginning of the company.
They were already very visible when I got there in 1998.
Led by a large and terrifyingly formidable man called Anil Singh, Yahoo's sales guys would fly out to Procter & Gamble and come back with million dollar orders for banner ad impressions.