Lately there have been a number of hand-wringing articles about Yahoo's purchase of Tumblr. All the writers predict what is going to happen to the company and all seem to rag on Yahoo as if something is terribly wrong. Everyone describes the operation as stodgy, old fashioned, or in some negative way.
A great example is this Forbes article, a good portion of which parses the meaning of Marissa Mayer's casual comment that she's not going to screw up the deal with Tumblr.
This never ending over-analysis and criticism of Yahoo tells me that it has a serious image problem, which can only be resolved by overhauling the entire company, beginning with a name change.
Aren't we all a little tired of the name "Yahoo!"? First of all, who puts an exclamation mark in their name? It's dumb and it makes life miserable for editors. Technically, if I write an exclamatory sentence such as "Go Yahoo!!" then I should have two exclamation marks, which looks unprofessional.
The exclamation mark was cute at first but now it is tiresome. I drop the exclamation mark when I use the name for the sake of clarity.
Yahoo was originally a search engine and directory. Experts personally maintained the search categories. After finding what you were looking for, you might shout "Yahoo!" The firm could have just as easily been named "Eureka!"
If you were looking up information about Mongolian knitting, you'd discover that some person had already figured out the top 10 places where it is discussed. This was very different to a search engine. The idea, I believe, stemmed from the notion of the Compuserve SIG (special interest group) where people were paid to run and monitor the various SIGs such as the telecom SIG or the science fiction SIG. This is a viable alternative to straight up machine searches, especially today with all the SEO nonsense that dominates the results.
Yahoo was taken off this track by the various meddlers who joined the board. The directory idea, they said, was not sustainable. Though that is debatable, the company began to change. The concept of "Yahoo! I found it!" waned, especially after former CEO Terrry Semel decided that Yahoo was a media company.
Semel, in his early days, had the best opportunity to change the name of the company. Unfortunately there was no way the founders would allow it. He apparently saw the writing on the wall and spent little of his time at the Sunnyvale, California headquarters, instead squandering his time and money in Southern California.
The current CEO, Marissa Mayer, has a shot at renaming the joint. There would be less board resistance since they adore her. But she has to move fast.
So what should the company's new name be? The simple "Y" would be better and Y.com is held by ICANN, as it seems all the other one letter domain names are. Yahoo must pry it loose. It already owns Ymail.com. I suspect Ask.com would have a claim to it too.
Whatever the case, until Yahoo gets a makeover, it will be seen as an also-ran. What are you waiting for, Marissa?