Dear Marissa: Please save these 3 Yahoo projects

There are a few hidden gems in Yahoo's portfolio of products. Previous CEOs didn't know what to do with them. We hope you'll be different.

Dear Marissa Mayer,

It's too late to save Delicious, the social platform that Yahoo acquired in 2005 and sold in 2010. But please don't make the same mistake and allow Yahoo to slough off these other strong properties that Yahoo has had for years. They mean more to users, and could mean much more to Yahoo itself, than might be obvious at first glance.

1. Flickr
Talk about owning a market and then letting it evaporate. Flickr was at one time the premier photo storage and sharing site among engaged photo buffs. It had features no other photo site did, a very strong free service, and awesome brand recognition. It was the serious photographer's sharing site. But in recent years it's been losing traffic to Facebook and Google Picasa, not to mention upstarts like Instagram. The design and features in the Flickr site now look old-school, and the iPhone app hasn't been updated since December.

Flickr is unlike any other photo sharing service. That's worth celebrating. Photo by Steve Jurvetson. Screenshot by Rafe Needleman/CNET

Flickr could use some love, and not just for its users' sake. Learning how to run a successful photo site for Yahoo could help the company tackle the broader social sphere, where its current products are also old-school: Mail and instant messaging.

Yahoo's Connected TV knows what you're watching and can display overlays based on it. Yahoo

3. Pipes
The geeky Lego-for-RSS construction kit, Pipes, is so far off the Yahoo reservation that it's not even listed on Yahoo's own Everything page. It is clearly not a consumer product. It is, though, a great tool for educating people on how online content can work (technically speaking). Pipes launched with a lot of potential. Were Yahoo to put more effort into the product, we could see new publishers building interfaces to the platform, hobbyists (and Yahoo developers) building new functions for it, and perhaps even some people building products and interfaces on top of it.

Pipes was the beginning of a platform for new products, a surprisingly engaging canvas for new ideas. The kinds of ideas Yahoo badly needs.

What's wrong with a little spaghetti code? Pipes teaches us about the Web. Screenshot by Rafe Needleman/CNET

Marissa, you've got a tough job ahead of you, and in an understandable desire to focus, to put your company's energies where they can do the most and the greatest good, chances are you'll be asking your team what projects Yahoo can defer development of or kill outright. But we advise that you reserve some black funds for these old Yahoo favorites. We think it will be worth it.

Sincerely yours,
Rafe Needleman and a bunch of other geeks at CNET

 

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