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Category: Yahoo!

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Four Questions (Answered!) About the Yahoo and Dropbox Partnership

Will cloud storage be tech’s next bubble? Dropbox, a cloud storage company, is seeking to raise $250 million in new funding, which would value the company at more than $8 billion, twice the valuation from its last round in 2011.


What has Dropbox done since 2011? One of its recent high profile achievements is integrating with Yahoo, putting Dropbox right inside your Yahoo Mail inbox. This allows you to move attachments directly from Yahoo Mail to Dropbox, without saving to your desktop. Want to share links to files in Dropbox? Skip the step of opening another tab; attach Dropbox file links as if you were sending regular attachments. This email to cloud integration streamlines the sharing and collaboration flow.


Why Yahoo, why Dropbox and why now? Understanding the Yahoo and Dropbox partnership enables us to better understand the direction of cloud collaboration, communication and the implication for productivity.


What does this mean for Yahoo, Dropbox and their users?


Just as Salesforce and members of its ecosystem have grown by working together, Dropbox and Yahoo are growing their respective businesses by working together. By working with Yahoo, Dropbox gets in front of users beyond its core “early adopter” base. By working with Dropbox, Yahoo gets associated with a “cool” Valley company and can provide a more comprehensive productivity suite than its previous offering. Given Gmail’s recent integration with Google Drive, Yahoo and Dropbox’s partnership help both remain competitive.


In the short and long run, users benefit from these integrations. If you’re using Gmail, you probably also use Google Drive, with 15GB of free storage. If you’re using Yahoo Mail, you can sign up for Dropbox and get 2GB of free storage (with an additional 14GB via referrals). By connecting their email with a cloud service, users can overcome some email limitations, such as the attachment size limit.


Google, Yahoo and Dropbox have validated the importance of connecting email inboxes (where you send and receive content) to cloud storage (where you save and sync files), as it simply makes sense. Over time, users will have more control of their email attachments and can save time with streamlined workflows.


What if you’re using other cloud storage services like Microsoft SkyDrive, Box, Bitcasa or SugarSync? You can connect these to your email inbox as well with Kloudless. With 23% of email market share, Outlook and users also have an option for email to cloud.


The additional flexibility to integrate multiple cloud storage devices means that users don’t have to pick a specific cloud service provider for email to cloud connectivity. Users can use the cloud services they want.


Why did Yahoo and Dropbox choose each other for this partnership?


For Yahoo, amidst their refocusing, working with Dropbox is a great opportunity to partner with a hot startup. Given some recent moves (including hiring Katie Couric, buying Tumblr and others), this partnership helps shed the tired, outdated brand image in exchange for an updated, hip brand. Unlike Google and Microsoft, Yahoo also does not have its own cloud storage offering. The Dropbox integration gives them instant credibility that rivals Google’s Gmail and Drive integration.


For Dropbox, this partnership is another example of how they are executing on their vision: “it just works” in the places that you’re used to working. They built a cloud service that connects with you via your desktop, a familiar place. Now they’re connecting with you in your email inbox.


Why didn’t this partnership happen sooner?


Several conditions needed to be met for Dropbox and Yahoo Mail to create this joint solution. First, Yahoo (and by extension, Yahoo Mail) needed to redefine itself to regain its former dominance. While the top seat saw quite a bit of turnover, it wasn’t until Marissa Mayer took the reins that Yahoo began to refocus on what was needed to create value for its users and shareholders.


Second, Dropbox and other cloud storage services were supposed to kill collaboration via email. Email attachments are painful — they have file size limits and the back-and-forth nature of the workflow kills productivity. However, we know people still collaborate via email. In fact, people now use email to pass links to their cloud files back and forth. By working together, Dropbox and Yahoo Mail were able to put together a service that benefits both of their user bases.


Third, some things are hard (or impossible) to kill off. Behaviors are hard to change, and sometimes people need to be in an already familiar context to be open to adopting new behavioral changes. Introducing cloud storage into email is such a step.


Are Yahoo or Dropbox signaling something with a deeper meaning to the cloud industry?


Several more companies will likely partner up like this. People use many different services in the cloud for productivity: email, storage, CRM, and others. It makes sense that companies want to give their customers the best cloud experience possible; sometimes this means playing nicely with others.


This partnering strategy isn’t unprecedented — Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) has a habit of partnering or purchasing Software-as-a-Service vendors whose offerings are complementary to its core product, a cloud CRM solution. Dreamforce, its ecosystem conference, is a testament to how Salesforce has grown by working smartly with partners, acquiring technologies that complement its own and ensuring its technologies help its customers grow.


The next several years will be interesting for the cloud industry. Technologies will advance to improve cloud communication, collaboration and productivity. Will you take advantage of connecting your email inbox to the cloud?


Searching for and Finding Current News

Free online news is everywhere. Headlines are even available on a mobile phone. Tasty apps like Flipboard, Pulse, and Zite deliver a stream of frequently updated stories. CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and USA Today provide one-click access to Miley Cyrus’ latest PR stunt to all, regardless of interest. Most of these services offer information without requiring the user to register or pay for access.

Microsoft has been struggling to generate as much Web traffic as Google. In September 2013, Microsoft changed the logo for the Bing News Service and revamped the site’s approach to content. ran a story with a headline which gave me a bit of a shock: “Microsoft Downgrades MSN News Service.” With Microsoft’s increased emphasis on Bing, it makes little sense to offer a competing news service via the MSN portal. The TechEYE report explains that Microsoft MSN News drew 100 million visitors a month. My interpretation of the TechEYE analysis is that MSN News is likely to remain on a downward trajectory. At the same time, Bing News will be enhanced with what eWeek called “a more modern, responsive user interface that retains its focus on photos and imagery.” In-depth news at Microsoft seems to be out of step with users who want nuggets, pictures, and videos for smartphones and tablets.


Google and Yahoo news services provide headlines. Some stories lead to lists of articles from other current news sources and to video content. With Web traffic mirroring the 1% versus the 99% set up of the US economy, most of those looking for news will rely on large services like Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo.


However, in the 99% of news sites, there are some quite useful sources for information. Very useful services are available to a business person wanting information from sources other than the Associated PressBloombergBusinessweekReuters, and major US newspapers.


Let me highlight a handful of the services which make it possible to get a broader perspective on a news story. For content not available in English, I suggest you use Google Translate to convert Farsi, German, or Russian into a language you know. For now, Google Translate is available without charge, but that could change, of course.


Newsnow. This is a UK based service which offers a free and a commercial version of its service. Navigate to With a single click you can select a stream of stories in English from the US, UK, and other countries’ English-language news content. A search box makes it possible to search a 30 day back file of content. When you click on a story to read, Newsnow redirects you to the source’s Web site. Sometimes a story will not be available. In that case, you can navigate to the source directly and search for the story on the Web site’s server. One of the most useful features of Newsnow is that it makes it explicit when a story was available on the service. As new stories arrive, older stories are pushed down in the result list. The free service is ad supported and works like a live demonstration of some of the features of the for-service offered to commercial customers. My research team rates the service at four out of five stars.


Another useful service is World News. Navigate to You will see a splash page which shows the major stories of the moment. The service is extremely useful because a query returns results which date back to 2001. In order to access the back file, you will have to click past the video news story and narrow the query to the “News” category in the left-hand sidebar. Once the page refreshes, you will see a date ordered list of headlines, the source, and a snippet from the news story. Unlike HNGN, World News includes content in French, German, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. Non-English news is available from Google, but you have to run your query in the language of the Google index you want to access; for example, and use French or and use German. World News lets you do your research from a single Web site. My research team rates the service at four out of five stars.


TheBigProject is one of those 1995-style sites which are largely overlooked by today’s online user. Point your browser at You will see a very large, single page with hundreds of hot links to news services. Of particular value is the list of European news sources in English. In addition, there are links to global news sources in a wide range of languages. Google Translate can make an unfamiliar language understandable, but the translation is not letter perfect. The interface is dated. The upside of TheBigProject is that like HNGN, the Google Custom Search system generates results. My research team rated this service at four out of five stars.


Silobreaker is a for-fee service. A trial subscription is available. The system provides access to a wide range of news from Web logs, commercial services, and government entities. The Silobreaker search returns results which are quite useful. First, the system processes content in the major languages and includes an on-the-fly translation function. If you get a news story in Farsi, a mouse click renders the story in English. Second, Silobreaker includes a relationship map showing the connections of individuals named in news stories to companies and one another. Third, if you search for a person, Silobreaker displays a map that pinpoints the last known location of the individual. My research team rated this system five out of five stars.


When does a business person shift from mainstream news services (AOL, Bing, Google, etc.) and use a less well known service? There are no hard-and-fast rules that apply to every business person looking for information. My team and I identified some broad guidelines which you can consider in terms of your own information needs.


First, if you are looking for mainstream coverage of well known companies and people, the Google-style services will do the job. However, if you are looking for people or companies outside the US, you will want to tap services which include non-US content.


Second, if you want to verify a fact, you will need to use a service which has a back file. World News is useful for this purpose. If you do not find what you need, you will want to consider signing up for a commercial service like Silobreaker, LexisNexis, or one of the other professional information systems. Free works reasonably well, but for some information, commercial services save a researcher time.


Third, if you need information about the context in which a company or person works, you will want to tap into a business intelligence centric system. Silobreaker has already been mentioned. You may want to explore, developed by a former Israeli armed forces officer.


An important point to keep in mind is that a large amount of information is generated everyday. News services can only process of fraction of the available content. Some news services aggressively filter stories which contain certain words or phrases. US news services may not cover stories which are important outside the US but of little interest to the average American online user. Despite challenges, it is possible to find a news service that will more or less meet your information needs by using the information above.

by Stephen E Arnold at


Marissa Mayer on Yahoo!, Microsoft, and Government

At yesterday’s TechCrunch Disrupt, Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo!, discussed much with the topics ranging from Yahoo! to Microsoft to government with Michael Arrington, founder of TechCrunch.

Arrington opened the floor with what Mayer had done with Yahoo! up until now. Former Google vice president, Mayer had only been at Yahoo! for 1 year and 2 months and was able to double its stock. She attributed a good portion of this grand feat to the investments of her predecessors, but her revamp of how Yahoo! did things played a major part in this. She focused, in order, on: hiring the right people, product, traffic, and revenue.


To help explain the impact of Yahoo!’s newfound success, Mayer said that “the company receives 12,000 resumes a week” and that the company only has 12,000 positions—this means that every week, Yahoo! gets a resume for every possible position. In addition to this boom in potential employees, 10% of the company consists of boomerangs—employees who left and then returned to Yahoo!. She also mentioned that Yahoo! has 800 million users worldwide, and that value does not include Tumblr as well. To drive home the point that Yahoo! is still a strong contender, she asked the audience show how many used Yahoo! for any of its services in the past month; over half raised their hands.


The discussion then drifted towards her plans for Yahoo!. Arrington asked what changes she was planning, especially considering her prior position as vice president of Google. Mayer touched a bit upon Yahoo! mail, stating that its simpler design offers faster speeds than Google. She also plans on growing her mobile team by a factor of 10. After all, the mobile market is booming—a lot of people are using their smartphones to get information that Yahoo! already offers: mail, news, finance, sports, communication, etc.


Arrington then shifted the topic towards one of the two questions he always asked at the event: Who should be the new CEO of Microsoft? Mayer never did give a direct answer. She started off by saying that she admires both Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer and continues off by stating her observation of Microsoft being strong in the enterprise area, so it should look for someone who’s strength is in enterprise. Arrington then built upon her comment, asking about the weaknesses of CEOs. She said that there is actually a community of CEOs and that “they want to see each other succeed,” but what is most shocking about being a CEO is that there are so few decisions to be made, yet each of them are of the utmost importance to the fate of the company.


The second of Arrington’s favorite questions is about government requests for user data. Like Facebook, Mayer said that Yahoo! is trying to protect as much user privacy as they can from government. Unfortunately, companies cannot refuse to comply with the government, but Yahoo! plans to and does analyze and scrutinize all requests by the government, pushing them back as much as possible.


While this chat between Mayer and Arrington covered a few important topics, the conversation brings up a few key questions.  Is Yahoo!’s focus on mobile the best way to go? Who should be the next CEO of Microsoft? What should and can companies do about government requests for user? What do you think?