Yahoo reportedly returning to roots in search tech

The Web giant will shift some of its focus back on algorithmic search and search advertising with the help of two new initiatives, reports Recode.

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Yahoo may be cooking up something new in search technology, according to a report on Friday.

Recode's Kara Swisher says that the tech giant has ordered up two new search-related initiatives, codenamed Fast Break and Curveball. Details are still scant about the specifics of each project, but they will reportedly bring the company back to some of the nitty-gritty of taking queries -- algorithmic search and search advertising.

The projects are reportedly priorities for the company, both with three-to-four month time frames, and involving some of the company's bigwigs: search chief Laurie Mann, mobile head Adam Cahan, and SVP of platforms Jay Rossiter. Cahan's involvement indicates a strong mobile bent, which is not surprising since Yahoo has been beating the mobile drum loudly under CEO Marissa Mayer.

Currently, Yahoo is steeped in a 10-year deal with Microsoft, in which the back end of its search operations is powered by Bing, while Yahoo still controls the user experience. But the deal has some built in "outs" for each company, based on revenue and performance expectations. Though the deal brings in a not-insignificant 31 percent of revenue for Yahoo, Mayer has shown her disapproval of the deal. As of yet, Yahoo hasn't been able to break away from it.

CNET reported in December on the future of Yahoo's search strategies, and Fast Break and Curveball could be the eventual fruits of that work. In our piece, we also wondered if a new rejuvenation in search technology could mean that the company was actively preparing for life after Bing. It now looks that that could be the case. We wrote:

That Yahoo is making a play in structured search could mean that something is afoot. One former engineer at Yahoo said one of the reasons the company shut down SearchMonkey was because Bing had a similar program.

Some theories: The company could be planning a Bing exit strategy for 2015 or earlier, and look to partner with another Web crawler, aka Google. Some reports have said Mayer has been cozying up to her former company on that front. Or Yahoo could be rebuilding its own core search capabilities, though that's the unlikeliest of scenarios because that would be a nightmare for the company's margins. Or Yahoo could even be beefing up its team just enough to gain more authority within the Bing partnership, in case it wanted to advise Bing on what to do on the back end.

Yahoo, for its part, is mum, saying that the company does not comment on rumors.

 

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