Yahoo CTO on what it takes to compete


We're getting into a regular execution rhythm which is nice, and for me it's an opportunity to stick out my head and say, now that we have some direction, what is this CTO job? I've been operating more as a member of the leadership team than as CTO per se.

The biggest challenge for me is getting a bit out of the weeds. As chief architect, I was pretty deep down into the code of what we do around here. That's always been my approach: to dive in where there's a critical strategic issue that's stuck, survey what we're doing and unstick it.

That's a great thing for a chief architect to do but a CTO needs to provide a lot more visibility in terms of, what's the road map of the company, what's the technology direction and strategy. It needs to provide that, first and foremost, inside the company, because we have a lot of people who need to align to that, and also outside.

For the leadership team and myself, top-line growth broadly defined in terms of dollars and users and user engagement is a focus this year, but as CTO it's important for me to not hit the end of 2011 and not be on a ramp for the future. As CTO, I need to make sure we have a pipeline of technologies that mature at just the right time and to be looking one, two and three years ahead to make sure we're anticipating changes and building the right capabilities.

IDGNS: Yahoo has been criticized in recent years for lacking technology innovation and vision, and letting competitors capitalize on hot trends like social networking, video sharing and microblogging. Do you agree with that criticism?