Tech: If I were Yahoo!, what would I build?

Yahoo’s acquisition of RockMelt last week kicked off another round of armchair quarterbacking questioning the wisdom of aquiring so many startups purely for talent. Only time will ultimately validate the strategy but I think an interesting discussion is given Yahoo!’s position, what would you build given the influx of new talent?

Build a low cost, gaming focused tablet

With the popularity and penetration of tablets accelerating, now would be a great time for Yahoo! to enter the space. In addition to consumer interest, Android 4.3 is rock solid, OEMs are comfortable building “decent” tablets, and Amazon has proved that alternate Android app stores work. So what if Yahoo! built a low cost, gaming focused tablet, with an alternative app store and developer friendly terms? I think they’d be able to successfully capture the low to mid market and then primarily drive revenue via app and in-app purchases.

Double down on Fantasy Sports

One of the few Yahoo! properties that I actually see people visit are it’s Fantasy Sports offerings. Given that, I think it makes sense for Yahoo! to double down on Fantasy and make it an absolutely killer offering. Things like an open API, facilitating playing with real money, and Nate Silver style statistics would set Yahoo! Fantasy apart and ultimately restore the “cool” around the Yahoo! brand.

A killer second screen experience

Remember that tablet Yahoo! just built? Well why not leverage it to put relevant “pop culture” and “celeb gossip” content in front of Yahoo!’s users? It’s not sexy to talk about, but a lot of Yahoo!’s traffic is driven by this type of content and if they can monetize it more effectively than display advertising it should be an easy win. In addition, with the “new” Fantasy Sports available Yahoo! would be able to provide relevant content during live sports and monetize those users as well.

Anyway, whatever Yahoo! ends up building I’m sure it’ll be a bold departure from it’s old path. They have the cash, talent, and hopefully the vision to reinvent a once great Internet giant into a real contender.

Client side RSS aggregator

One of our clients came to us a few days ago asking us if we could build something to aggregate several RSS feeds and then display it on their site.

Easy enough. Except the caveats were 1) This had to be done on a shoe string budget and 2) We had no permission to script on the server side (only client side scripting allowed kids).

We put our heads together and realized that Yahoo Pipes would provide the functionality to easily combine several RSS feeds, sort them, filter them, ect. And best part? It’s all built and all free. Pipes also provides the functionality to export a pipe as a JSON feed (as opposed to RSS).

So that takes care of problem 1 and almost fixes problem 2. Of course the remaining problem is getting around the cross domain XHR restrictions on the JSON. I did some poking around the Yahoo Pipes documentation and it turns out you can add a _callback parameter to the URL and bang it wraps the JSON in a JS callback!

Issues solved. The final part was to mix in a little jQuery to load the JSON+callback feed into a <script> tag and then display it.

Total lines of code: 27 lines of javascript.

EDIT. Now with code!