Yang to Yahoos: Keep the Faith


Blodget has a good summary of Jerry Yang’s Yahoo note to the troops articulating the reasons for the rejection of Microsoft’s offer and the company’s future plans.    He gives Yang an A- but I think this might be generous.  

I’m wondering if Yahoo didn’t fail recently, rather years ago when many lines of separation were drawn between technologists and most of the company management.  I assume there were official lines drawn, but I’m talking more in terms of culture here.     My bullishness about Yahoo has rested on the assumption that the technologists would eventually have their day and as with Google would create the tools necessary to keep Yahoo competitive and interface with the broader developer community as Google has done so effectively to bring more awareness and use of Yahoo tools, effectively widening their footprint over the internet landscape.  

I no longer thing there is enough technological empowerment at Yahoo to make this likely anytime soon.   It will take a LOT more than peppy emails and a combative stance here.  Recent defections from Yahoo suggest that even internally Yahoos are more bullish on Google than their own company.   

So, if we assume Yahoo’s got to do something really big is Microsoft or News Corp the best fit.    From Yahoo’s perspective clearly they’d love it if News Corp was willing to pony up as much as MS, and frankly this seems like a more likely winning combination than MS and Yahoo which would have a lot of initial, and perhaps long term, contentiousness.   Fox Interactive is run brilliantly, and applying these management principles to Yahoo could do a world of good to the bottom line of the combined company.    As a Yahoo shareholder I’m rooting for that option though I’d predict MS will win this battle because of the difficulties News Corp will have showing how valuing Yahoo at 50 billion+  is justified given how difficult it may be to make a lot more money from the combined company in anything short of many years.

disclosure:  Long on Yahoo

Ted Conference or Bil Conference?


Bil Conference

Here at the blog I have noted before that I think the Ted conference has a pretty high elitist component, and although I’ve warmed to the idea that most of the speakers there have important things to say I’m still concerned that the TED and other expensive conference formats somehow create a lot of unintended biases and effectively censor people and content in a way that is akin to our problems with US politics where purchasing access to things trumps giving access to the maximum number of innovative and clever ideas and deserving people.

There is now an alternative UNconference called the Bil Conference, and to TEDs credit they appear to be supportive of this venue which will be just after and near the location of TED, but won’t cost to attend.

Of course *free* conferences can also suffer from the challenges of non-representativeness.    I do think the costs of transportation and lodging provide a barrier to entry that keeps out those who are just looking for a free lunch or to annoy people from the soap box provided by UNconferences to anyone who cares to speak.

I won’t be attending TED or Bil this year though I’ll be down there for MashupCamp later in March.   TED blog

Check your airline mileage program for major rule changes!


Over the years we fly several different airlines and if you are like us you have mileage programs for the family on each one. That makes tracking them hard enough, but rules appear to be changing as the airlines are squeezed by huge losses in an effort to reduce free flying. AA, for example, changed from a 36 month to 18 month expiration without account activity. It appears they didn’t bother to send a letter about this, though so far they restored miles to my account though I’m waiting to hear back on our three other accounts which collectively have more than one ticket worth of miles. I’m also having trouble with my US Air Account which appears to have expired miles as well, though in that case I was notified by them by email that was basically lost in the shuffle.

Let’s see if what response comes in from this:

Dear AA –

I am in a state of confusion about AAdvantage Dividend Miles for the family accounts. We don’t often fly AA because we live in a rural area not well served by AA, so our flights are every few years from big cities.

I called and they credited back miles I lost on my account, but accounts for my son, daughter, and wife appear to have lost the miles completely. We’d read on the last statement we have they “might expire in 36 months”, which would not have expired them yet. But when I called a few days ago I was told they expired a few months back after a change in the rules. I don’t think we were even notified of the change by mail or email as those accounts had no email addresses with them.

What am I asking for here? Simply that the miles be restored on the following accounts for another month or so so we can figure out what to do under the new rules, since we were under the impression they’d be fine until July 2008 based on the letters we have from AA:

(Account details omitted)
PS – l’ll be blogging this adventure at a travel blog I run, and would like permission to repost your replies, or if you prefer you can have a PR person

UPDATE: AA restored the miles and sent me this nice note. Thanks AA!:

Dear Mr. Hunkins:

Please accept my apology for the difficulty you encountered with the expiration of
your miles. We’re glad you took the time to write since it gives us the opportunity
to respond to your concern.

I have reviewed your account, as well as the accounts for your wife ***** ,
your son **** your daughter ***. As of today,
February 18, 2008, their accounts do show that their mileage has been restored (as
well as your account also has the mileage restored). Their mileage, as well as yours,
are in their accounts now, and you can view their accounts via AA.com at
http://www.aa.com/AAdvantage®.

Mr. Hunkins, we look forward to welcoming your family aboard soon. We very much
appreciate your family’s participation in our AAdvantage program.

Sincerely,

(name omitted)
Customer Relations
American Airlines