Sticking eyeballs with toothpicks; or Yahoo buys MyBlogLog

Another sign that Yahoo thinks it can buy its way to the hearts and eyeballs of the netigentsia comes today, as Yahoo buys stalkerati tool MyBlogLog. We already knew that this was coming, but we’ve finally confirmed it.

Ok, so that’s all good and well — I’m impressed at how quickly this thing grew and then got snarfed up (in fact, I was checking out its impressive traffic today) — but what concerns me is that this kind of purchase underscores my thesis about Google’s Identity Mousetrap, but this time in the Yahoo neighborhood. Interestingly, in conversations with my Yahoo friends, they’ll said that their BBAuth system should have been reconsidered given the advances of OpenID… and yet, “Bradley Horowitz, vice president of product strategy at Yahoo, said Mybloglog will likely remain branded as a separate entity, but Yahoo users will be able to register on it with their Yahoo password. The reader communities will soon be able to access Yahoo services, like the Flickr photo site or the Yahoo Answers information service, to their groups.” (emphasis mine)

Ok, well, that’s business.

But, the language Horowitz continues to use also seems to threaten Technorati: This closes the loop between readers and publishers, he said. Every publisher wants to know his readers, and the readers want to find out about each other. It’s the power of implicit networking.

Which, if you’re a blogger and watch your Technorati stats, you can see that there are interesting parallels here.

Rafer continues: The biggest thing in blog search is ego search – my name, the web sites I love, says Rafer, who will work for Horowitz, promoting his service to Yahoo’s many properties. People search Google and Wikipedia for information; with blogs, people look for cool things and serendipity.

So what’s curious (that I don’t have much insight on) is what this means for Technorati, who now supports OpenID, both as a provider and consumer, and Yahoo, who seems interested in the 33,000 MyBlogLog users and getting them to switch to Yahoo logins, but who doesn’t yet have its own blog search to cater to that audience. I mean, it makes sense, it’s just a bit… odd. Is it really worth $10M?

Author: Chris Messina

Head of West Coast Business Development at Republic. Ever-curious product designer and technologist. Hashtag inventor. Previously: (YC W18), Uber, Google.

9 thoughts on “Sticking eyeballs with toothpicks; or Yahoo buys MyBlogLog”

  1. “Another sign that Yahoo thinks it can buy its way to the hearts and eyeballs of the netigentsia comes today…”

    Well, it’s good to see you’re not jumping to conclusions. 🙂

    Seriously, Chris… come on.

    I can see how you’re trying to connect the dots between MyBlogLog and OpenID, but you’re also smart enough to understand how completely different the two are on several levels.

    As for Technorati… huh? That came out of left field. Isn’t their core strength still around real-time indexing and search of blogs–along with authority rankings. The fact that they’re supporting OpenID seems like a bit of a stretch to make this particular argument. Trying to spin this into a “Yahoo tries to smash Technorati” story makes no sense to me.

    So I guess you’re now convinced that we’re gunning for SixApart too, right? LiveJournal has OpenID support (which I happen to use–view source on my blog and see).

    Speaking of different things, BBAuth is primarily about authorization while OpenID is about identification. You know as well as I do that those are *related* issues but they’re certainly not the same either.

    It’s clear that you’re not happy about this, but I’m struggling to understand exactly why…

  2. Hey Jeremy, thanks for stopping by.

    I think you got me all wrong, or maybe vice versa, or both ways. Whichever, I’m actually kind of excited that I can finally include Yahoo in my conspiracy theories! No really, it means you’re on the right track — that what you’re doing has significance and impacts some of the things that I’m working on.

    In all honesty, I bet MyBlogLog had nothing to do with OpenID or Technorati. In my alternate reality view, I just wanted to pimp my own skewed version of things to get all winded. It’s normal. I do it a lot.

    Let me ask something though — it seems that a huge win over MSN and Google would be for you guys to do some interesting stuff with OpenID… to help nurture the platform and the technology and become the central hub tying all the great properties that you’ve bought together. In fact, I don’t think that you’d go after SixApart, at least, more than you already are… but it would be significant and game changing if you guys shared users through an interoperable authentication protocol like OpenID.

    Put it another way, MyBlogLog fits your pedigree and it’s certainly not something that Google or Microsoft or MySpace would have bought. It’s a clever idea and I think that Scott’s done a great job growing this thing out. I think getting Yahoo, WordPress, SixApart, Technorati and Digg, for starters, all hooked up with OpenID would be rather interesting and important. MyBlogLog shows the value and promise of cross-site identity. I just don’t want to see you guys turn it into another major-name identity silo when you have the perfect chance to do something that none of the other guys would do.

    Thanks again for stopping by. If you’re in town, stop by our offices — we’re a bunch of events this week that you’re more than welcome to attend!

  3. “I just don’t want to see you guys turn it into another major-name identity silo when you have the perfect chance to do something that none of the other guys would do.”

    Neither do I. 🙂

  4. I’m happy to pull with the team, hours old though it may be, but I don’t actually agree. I think that OpenID is a great idea, however standards are not created this way any more. No matter how many sites support OpenID, it will remain marginal until some empath/product mgmt wizard (like Eric on our team) spots a way to make users covet it. There needs to be a compelling reason for a few hundred thousand people to raise their mice and say, “I must have one!” before it matters.

    Until then, it’s a privacy and convenience mechanism for the elite that real humans won’t understand.

  5. I really don’t see why any of the big players can simply support OpenID.

    Let the users do whatever it is they are doing and let them keep on using their current account be it Yahoo, Google or Live (MSN, whatever it is called now).

    Make OpenID the pipeline.

    Do you, big guys, think OpenID is not secure enough? Has problem? Come on inside and help make it suitable for everyone including you.

    While it may screw up your conversion rates for signups (well, actually it won’t since you’ll just won’t be handling the authentication of the user but the user will have a profile in your system), it will just ease up everyone’s experience and its really easy to implement.

    On another note, Chris, why is your OpenID login at the top of the screen and not near the comments section? 🙂
    And I tried to login with it but I got a 404 for some reason (I do have OpenID delegation on my blog which works fine with all the other sites I’ve used thus far).

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