Hari Vasudev, VP Yahoo India R&D talks about the new Homepage and more

Monday, 14 April 2014 - 6:35pm IST | Place: Pune | Agency: dna

Marissa Mayer, previously touted to be the brain behind the user experience of Google products became the CEO of YAHOO In July 2012. Sitting quaint and calm, Hari Vasudev the vice president of Yahoo! India R&D talks to dna while in Pune. He elaborates on the changes Mayer has brought to Yahoo! India, the new homepage, mobile space and competition in the emerging economies.
  • Hari-vasudev Hari Vasudev, vice president of Y! India R&D

Q- How is Yahoo doing in India post Marissa Mayer becoming its global head?

After she has joined, she reviewed Yahoo’s product suite and has made quite a few changes starting with the new homepage. We have major focus on user experience and the applications people use every day. We call it the daily dozen, not necessarily 12 in number but they are applications that one uses daily and are a part of peoples' daily habits. The look and feel of everything is better now.

Q- Is it too late to make a big entry into the Mobile space in India?

Since our new homepage was launched  in first week of March we have seen increase in engagement, especially in India. We have seen 30 million users after the new homepage launch and over half of the traffic on Yahoo India network today comes from Mobile, it is obvious that the new personalized content feature and clean look has made a huge difference to our users. We have grown in number for mobile users from 250 million to 400 million in about 14 months time. Yahoo has been in the forefront of daily applications like weather, photo sharing and so on but with our new integrated design the user experience across platforms remains unchanged, synchronized and personalized. With over 25% increase in mobile usage on mobile devices since the changes, So no, we are not late.

Q- With an ex-google employee becoming the CEO do you think Yahoo is still playing catch up with Google?

Yahoo is not just a search engine, it has flickr.com and now tumblr.com. We have acquired several small and medium companies like summly.com, lexity.com and 34 others essentially for ‘tuck-ins’. Marissa has outlined Yahoo’s journey towards revenue growth as a chain reaction, divided into 4 major sprints: People, Products, Traffic ,Revenue. Everything starts with great people. First sprint was to on-board great talent across teams, with a specific focus on mobile. The number of resumes we are getting every week is through the roof- in some weeks reaching 17,000 resumes a week since the last 14- 15 months. On an average, quarter-over-quarter, 10% of our new hires are boomerangs, previously Yahoos who have returned.

Q- Google moved on from being a search engine to being a global leader in mobile space, how will Yahoo counter that?

We are revamping almost all of our products by making them extremely personalized and performance oriented. If something just looks good but doesn’t do the job it isn’t really a great product, it is a great looking one. Yahoo has built innovative products with functionalities that integrates seamlessly with all platforms and performs equally well. Also because we do not have device restrictions, we are the partner of choice for all operating system and device companies.

Q- Yahoo is doing a lot of internal R&D , has it considered open innovation?

Over the years Yahoo Development Program has encouraged talent tremendously in APAC. We regularly have coding camps and hackathons. Yahoo has traditionally been a proponent of open source technology. We continue to be committed to and invest in open source communities because we believe that in many cases, open source is a great way to accelerate innovation. Hadoop has become huge and so many Yahoo employees were the lead users. We contribute to Big Data development majorly. 

Q- What’s next for Yahoo?

Next sprint is about building beautiful experiences for users which will inspire and entertain them; A completely re-imagined Flickr with 1 Terabyte free storage; redesigned Yahoo Mail making it more intuitive. Improved Yahoo Mail mobile app, which have seen 150% increased in daily active users since the launches on Android and iOs earlier this year. And my personal favorite is Yahoo Weather which truly exemplifies ‘Ideas coming from everywhere’ and has won the Apple Design Award. We will also be changing the search experience.

Q- How about revenue growth?

2013 was the year when we stabilized our revenue with an Ex-TAC of $4.4 Billion. In 2014 we will continue our efforts around people, products and traffic while concentrating our efforts on revenue. We expect the business to exhibit stable momentum with modest acceleration in the second half of the year.

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