As Marissa Mayer contemplated her jump from Number 20 at Google to the latest occupant of Yahoo’s uncertain throne, the core question on my mind (and if she’s as smart as we are told, it will be on hers) is whether what I have been calling Digi Brands, these companies whose tech and biz models are build almost wholly around chips, can survive into middle age.
Aol is the parallel case. Aol, which I still cannot believe did not opt to rebrand as HuffPo when it got Arianna’d.
My point is partly about the fast progress through the traditional company aging experience, accelerated both by the pace of digital change and the single-product nature of most of these concerns. It’s also partly about the aging of a brand, qua brand. Aol is just old. Yahoo (OK, gulp, Yahoo!) is both old and confusing (what exactly is it, again?).
I’m unconvinced. But if Arianna and Marissa can’t do it, perhaps no-one can. The coming months will be fascinating as MM gets to lead Yahoo where she wants.
Google’s Marissa Mayer Tapped as Yahoo’s Chief – NYTimes.com.
Chaotic change (not just change) is the new constant. Brands like AOL and Yahoo that have missed the window will have a difficult time adapting to the new now. Yes, digi-brands can survive, but they must be willing to adapt ahead of the curve, to lead and not just follow, and neither AOL or Yahoo has shown that trait in years.
There was a time when both firms were leaders, but (regrettably) both have passed on opportunities to become leaders again. AOL may still have a remote chance (if they are willing to let the AOL brand pass as you mentioned), and Yahoo certainly has a chance now if Marissa is willing/able to remake the company with an eye toward “new” value that we haven’t seen before – both on a domestic and international front. Yahoo, as it exists today, is a mishmash of bland. No buzz, no energy. And with $300M already in her bank account, I sure hope this isn’t about the money and is, rather, about doing something that is exciting and fresh – two things that Yahoo hasn’t been in years.