* Mayer's biggest overhaul to Yahoo's Internet shop window
* Will import data on Facebook users, such as shared content
* Changes to be rolled out over coming days
* Can this makeover can win back Web audience?
By Nicola Leske
Feb 20 Yahoo Inc is overhauling its
website to incorporate features familiar to Facebook users such
as a newsfeed and people's "likes," in CEO Marissa Mayer's
biggest product revamp since taking the helm of the ailing
company last year.
Mayer, who took over in July after a procession of CEOs was
shown the door, said in a blog post on Wednesday that Yahoo's
redesigned website will let users log in with their Facebook IDs
to gain access to content and information shared by friends -
from articles and videos to birthdays.
Yahoo is one of the world's most-visited online properties,
but revenue has declined in recent years amid competition from
Google Inc and Facebook Inc.
The changes to Yahoo's Internet shop window, which include a
more streamlined mobile application for smartphones and tablets,
will be rolled out over coming days. The makeover follows a new
version of Yahoo mail, one of its most popular applications,
introduced in December.
Analysts say the move marks a strengthening of Yahoo's ties
with Facebook, employing some of the social network's growing
data on its billion-plus users to battle Google for Web users'
attention. It remains to be seen whether the initial makeover
and tweaks expected over time will win back its Internet
"This is definitely an important step. The Yahoo home page
is one of the most important things because it is the first
interface," said B. Riley Caris analyst Sameet Sinha. "It's
familiar in terms of layout, the newsfeed is interesting, and it
will be interesting to see how it develops over time.
"The key will be how data is aggregated within Yahoo and
Seven months into her tenure, former Google executive Mayer
has arrested the decline of the Internet portal and won favor on
Wall Street with stock buybacks among other things.
But Yahoo's forecast of a modest
revenue uptick this year still pales in comparison with the
growth of rivals like Google and Facebook, which are eating into
its advertising market share.
"We wanted it to be familiar but also wanted it to embrace
some of the modern paradigms of the Web," Mayer said of the
product revamp on NBC's "Today" show on Wednesday.
"One thing that I really like is this very personalized
newsfeed; it's infinite and you can go on scrolling forever,"
Among other problems, Yahoo has been plagued by internal
turmoil that has resulted in a revolving door of CEOs. Mayer,
37, took over after a tumultuous period during which former CEO
Scott Thompson resigned after less than six months on the job
over a controversy about his academic credentials. Yahoo
co-founder Jerry Yang then resigned from the board and cut ties
with the company.
Thompson's predecessor, the controversial and outspoken
Carol Bartz, was fired over the phone for failing to deliver on
growth. Yahoo's 2012 revenue was $5 billion. It has been flat
year over year, off from some $6.3 billion in 2010.
Yahoo shares were down 0.3 percent at $21.22 at midday on
Wednesday on the Nasdaq.