Yahoo Video: The $6 Billion Black Hole Implodes

A source at Google tells us YouTube has seen a rush of résumés from engineers at Yahoo's rival video site, after a wave of layoffs last week that devastated the team. Is Yahoo Video done?

If you're wondering what Yahoo Video is, don't blame yourself. Yahoo's video site, the descendant of the foolhardy $5.7 billion acquisition of Mark Cuban's Broadcast.com in 2000, is a grab-bag of funny cat videos, sports and news clips, and third-rate Web originals.

Yahoo Video has struggled to compete with YouTube's reputation as an all-in-one destination and Hulu's clearly curated collection of primetime entertainment. Its prehistoric video technology and Dallas operations center, a legacy of the Broadcast.com deal, has meant that it costs Yahoo more to serve up a video than Google. It hasn't helped that the video group has had a revolving door of leadership. Onetime Yahoo Music chief Ian Rogers ran it briefly before leaving for a startup last year, handing it over to Yahoo Media chief Scott Moore, who promptly split for Microsoft.

Yahoo has also shuttered Jumpcut, its user-generated video site, in favor of Flickr, which now hosts what it calls "long photos" — mostly personal clips taken on digital cameras. Cuban, the founder of Broadcast.com, predicted that most videos on the Internet would be home movies. Shame he didn't tell Yahoo that before he sold it a $5.7 billion bag of goods.

Update: A tipster at Yahoo points out that Broadcast.com wasn't the only bad investment Yahoo made in video. More recently, its $200 million purchase of Maven Networks went sour:

I'm not sure if any tech news blogs have carried this info but there has been a significant shift in Yahoo! video strategy. For the past month or so, and last week in particular the entire Y! video product management team and key engineers have either moved on, resigned, or let go. For a long time the team has been pushing the management to take on a more "Hulu-like" or premium content approach but with portfolio rationalization and internal politics, the key guys pushing for this change have been moved out. Last year Yahoo! spent almost $200 M purchasing white label publishing company - Maven, that strategy is also out of the door, video is now in a sad state in Yahoo! abandoned and in maintainence mode. The sad part is that folks currently leading the video charge and the ones with poor vision, execution capability, and responsible for putting the company $200M in the hole! Yahoo! continues to amaze me. Hulu, YouTube, and others will now be leaders in video monetization.