It is the key to success, but what you execute on is the key predictor of success, and Yahoo is on a tear. There are important lessons for everyone from a small company to a big one to understand about this.
First, the board acknowledged their past mistakes, bit the bullet, and hired a kick ass Product person that is focused on the User Experience.
Second, that kick ass product person came in, and one of the first things she did was to change the home page, the core to the site experience, to be centered around Real-Time content delivery. It is more immersive, engaging, and fun. (Note, it is not all that it will be, but it was a KEY first step) This moved Yahoo from Web 1.0 portal to Web X.X where users take in a feed of content.
Third, Yahoo made a killer acquisition. The purchase of Tumblr is key. Yahoo will learn from Tumblr’s users, and will apply their lessons learned to the core Yahoo service.
What’s next … there are probably several other online services that will come after Tumblr. Glam Media (owns Ning) has over 100 M Uniques per month in the US market alone. Yelp. Twitter. Pinterest. All four of these companies (along with Tumblr) have businesses centered around engagement, native ads, and content creation tools for content creators.
Based upon the actions in her first six months, Mayer is focused on the future of the web, just as she should be, just as she has always been. I imagine that Yahoo will be in the business building tools for content consumers and producers to more closely interact.
Watching this turn around is fun, and for those of you wanting to build your businesses, one of the lessons learned here is to look out into the future and build tools and services focused on delivering value in the exchange of information.