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A lesson from Yahoo…

A few weekends ago, the Guardian ran a great piece by Charles Arthur on the slow demise of Yahoo. This quote in particular jumped out at me…

in 1996, two Stanford PhD students approached Jerry Yang, the co-founder and chief executive, to explain that they had developed a search engine that was even better than Yahoo’s own at finding stuff on the web: the most relevant results appeared on the front page. Yang explained patiently that Yahoo didn’t really want a better search engine – it made its money from display ads, so the more pages people went through, the more ads it could sell.

Yes, the PhD students were Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and their search engine would become Google.

How many news organisations have been told about the internet repeatedly, but liked the revenues from display ads too much to go more deeply into this new medium? How many haven’t been brave enough to test new ways of doing things, to integrate (or even devise) new technologies and ways to connect?

There’s a critical lesson here: Disrupt your business, or someone else will.

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Have any questions or comments about this post? Email me at or contact me on Twitter at @ChrisFerdinandi.

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