Yahoo Video has soft-launched a new website, in a move which speaks to both the potential of Yahoo and the company's utter disorganization. It has all the necessaries in the age of YouTube and Hulu: clips created by amateurs and professionals, playlists, and "exclusive" content. The latter, if true, is refreshing: Thanks to syndication deals which allow the endless regurgitation of video from site to site, most of the Hollywood-born clips on the Web are numbingly similar. The site also has a tantalizing promise: Video on Flickr.
At the bottom of the Yahoo Video page, there's a section titled "More With Video." Flickr cofounder Stewart Butterfield promised Flickr, the popular photo-sharing site, would add video "soon" last summer. But his promise was empty: No engineering work had started at the time, and Butterfield himself would soon leave Flickr to go on paternity leave. (We hear he's coming back to Yahoo in another role, but not returning to Flickr.)
Still, video's long been seen as a natural extension for Flickr. The same digital cameras which take still photos almost all now capture video too, as do cameraphones. Why force users to go to two websites for the output of one device?
Which raises the question: Why did Yahoo Video relaunch with user-generated content? The rumor I'd heard was that Yahoo Video would become a showcase, much like NBC and News Corp.'s Hulu.com, for professional content, while the amateur stuff moved to Flickr. The obvious conclusion: Flickr's video features aren't finished, while Yahoo Video's were ready to go.
One would think proper leadership would have sorted this out. But of the managers in Yahoo's advanced-development division, one, Bradley Horowitz, just left for Google; another, Salim Ismail, was thankfully laid off; and the last, Chad Dickerson, had just been installed in his job before he got handed the management of what's left. It's no wonder that even when Yahoo manages to launch a promising new site, mismanagement haunts it.