Yahoo's new magnificent obsession

Yahoo exceeded expectations with its third-quarter results yesterday. Panama, Yahoo's new search-ad system, is at long last paying off, if not in the grand ways Yahoo execs promised. And, after dipping 4.7 percent in yesterday's trading, Yahoo shares jumped 9 percent after hours. Why? In short, Yahoo investors discounted the quarter as old news, and focused on management's guidance for the future. They're ready to move on, in other words, and grant CEO Jerry Yang and president Sue Decker the "redo" they asked for. If only the actual company were ready to move on, too. But with its new plans, it appears to be repeating old mistakes.


But don't worry, there's room for pessimism. Some suggest that one of Yahoo's biggest problems hasn't been Google, but Yahoo's obsession with Google. Now Yahoo's trained its sites on new pair of headlights to stare down — Microsoft and Facebook. What do they have that Yahoo doesn't? Developers, developers, developers.

"Our goal is to create a motivated community of developers all building uniquely compelling applications that reach hundreds of millions of Yahoo users by plugging into the most popular properties or services," Yang said, ripping pages from Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook platform launch speech.

The saddest part of it all? Yahoo failed to buy Facebook last year when the asking price was $1 billion. Now, if it wants to beat out Google and Microsoft in the race to get a piece of the Facebook action, Yahoo is going to have to pay half that price for a stake of 5 percent or less.