Yahoo 360 preview

March 27, 2005

On Thursday I was pleased as punch to be invited to a preview of Yahoo 360, the long-awaited Product Formerly Known As Mingle, which goes into beta tomorrow. I felt out of place through most of the event — I believe I was on the only guest who didn’t mention Flickr — but it was intensely interesting to see Yahoo’s product development process at work.

360 itself is a testament to the strategic intelligence, grinding relentlessness, and sheer hard work of the top-notch Yahoo product teams. The best capsule description of the product I’ve heard so far is “LJ with fewer cutters”. 🙂 I’ve never personally used Yahoo Photos or written any reviews on the shopping-related parts of Yahoo or done much on Yahoo Groups, but those are very neatly integrated with the service. What Yahoo 360 most interestingly doesn’t have is a graph that allows you to peruse friends of friends of friends.

Which brings me to what I really learned from my visit to the big Y. I thought a lot of the discussion was unfocused by the fact that no one in a position of authority would definitively say, “This is or isn’t our target market”. I would have thought it pretty obvious that Yahoo isn’t going to explicitly target the Xanga teens or the Slashdot wireheads — I mean, their marketing is 100% mainstream whitebread America — but I still kept waiting for someone to say it. Then after awhile, it began to dawn on me: wow, with 165 million users you don’t have a single target market.

That said, I think the brilliance of the product is that it fills the big market that is most underserved by blogging today: mainstream women over 22. Whether consciously or not, 360 is a surprisingly feminized product — with heavy use of gendered terms like “sharing” as well as functionality (e.g. fine-grained privacy controls, secret personal groups) that jibes exactly with the needs I mentioned in my SXSW talk. A surprising number of women still feel that their thoughts are not “important” enough to impose on the public, but they might enjoy communicating with their friends using these new tools.

As a mainstream woman over 22, I’m seriously thinking of moving part of my blog, if not the whole thing, over to Yahoo 360. I’ve wanted a semipermeable blog for a long time, but the only alternative was LiveJournal — which isn’t particularly my peeps, as shown by the fact that only one of my friends has a LiveJournal. But all my close friends are already registered Yahoo users, so it will be easy to let them see my secret blog entries. I’m a little concerned about the legal aspects — I’m pretty sure it would take only a simple subpoena to make Yahoo give up my private data without a peep — but it might in fact be good to fight those court cases on the Yahoo platform. I’m psyched about finally being able to blog what I’m really thinking and feeling, not just what I feel is OK for public consumption. If Yahoo 360 gives me that, I’m going to give it love no matter how unhip it supposedly is.

14 Responses to “Yahoo 360 preview”

  1. Ben Ramsey Says:

    As I mentioned earlier, I had the privilege of meeting Esther Dyson and briefly discussing Yahoo! 360. Here’s a few links to blog posts by others who attended what I’m calling the “360 summit” that Yahoo! hosted on Thursday:

    * Joyce Park (a.k.a. Tro…

  2. I’ve seen numerous folks commenting on Om Malik’s recent posting about Yahoo: How Yahoo Got Its Mojo Back. In it he credits several things (including me and Russell–thanks Om!) for a resurgence of interest and appreciation for what we’ve been doing these last months. And what it also has a couple of guys, I like to call them blog evangelists, who knowingly or not, have brought the right kind of attention to the company. Russell Beattie who recently joined Yahoo…

  3. Juls Says:

    ok, I’m way more unhip than you, because not only do I not know why Yahoo360 is supposed to be unhip, I do not know what Flickr or mobblogging is. Tragic, I know…but not incurable unhipness I hope.

  4. Anil Says:

    “as shown by the fact that only one of my friends has a LiveJournal”

    I guess the only thing I’d add to that sentence is “…that I know of”. There’s a lot of dark matter out there. But this is a great look at your take on the service.

  5. amorson Says:

    You can have hidden posts on many blog platforms, so only users who login can see. With the “Remember me” checkbox it’s not such a hassle to have private posts to friends and trusted people only.

  6. Brian Says:

    Yeah, it looks great and it’s really clean. I really like being able to see all the new stuff that my friends have changed recently.

    However, I don’t think that they really integrated it as well as they could have with their other properties. Starting a new Yahoo group from 360 just shoots you over to, clicking on ‘learn about moblogging’ throws you to, and same for doing photo albums. In all of these cases you lose the 360 header/nav bar.

    As big as yahoo is, is there any chance of truly integrating these products so that it actually feels like you’re in one place rather than getting pitched around to other properties?

  7. Nice write-up. You’ve used good words to compliment your good ideas and insights. You definitely hit on some things that I hadn’t thought about, so thanks!

    Brian, check out, it seems to have some cool integration points already. Each establishment Detail page show your relationship path to the author of any associated user reviews or ratings. While you can just stumble upon instances of this on Y!Local, you can also see it in action by finding reviews written by your friend’s on their Y!360 profile page.

    I can definitely imagine sending a message to a friend or friend-of-a-friend review-writer to ask follow-up questions on restaurants, dentists and mechanics.

    It’s not difficult for me to extrapolate further, and I’m happy to be patient while they continue throughout the beta period.

  8. Yahoo! 360 launched and began its invitation-only beta period today. Yahoo! 360 is a new product that allows you to easily share stuff with the circles of people in your life. It’s a social site, letting your connect with family,

  9. SandyBox Says:

    I REALLY wanted a Yahoo 360 account when Beta came out two days ago (3/29), and today, my good, I mean, GREAT friend Ted granted my wish. I suppose he read my desperate away message on AIM, and though most people were asking, “UH, what’s Yahoo 360?”, …

  10. Bruce Says:

    I would like to be invited to try and use yahoo 360..if you can sent me an invitation.

  11. I’ve been using two different services that fall in to a category I will describe as the Web 2.0 Swiss Army Knife. My previous post describes what I feel Web 2.0 is. The Swiss Army knife is the idea that…

  12. Ron Says:

    Hi there:

    I didn’t know a better way to write to you, other than say that I’m interested in your thoughts on social networking, the future of it and other mind probing questions related to such subjects, that you’re obviously not forced to answer.

    I am running a company that is developing the next generation site that is far more than “just” peer networking, but I believe your talent and experience would be interesting to have on board, etc., if you’re interested in talking about it.


  13. Warren Rick Says:


    What is a semipermeable blog? (The link you’ve posted at only returns a 403 error.)


  14. […] 10th, 2005 at 4:02 pm (Web) Early in the year, I wrote up my initial impressions of the newly-released Yahoo 360, which I was excited by at the time. I’ve been thinking that […]

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