Yahoo & Google’s Mission Statements : Do They Connect?

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Yahoo has undergone a good amount of restructuring over the past years, in part due to internal roadblocks & financial reasons, and also because of the adoption of social media.

With its integration of social offerings such as Flickr and Yahoo Answers into the lives of its registered userbase, Yahoo has become more of a social network of sorts, a social network based upon the sharing of experience.

To help reflect their change, and future direction, Jeff Weiner, the Executuive Vice President of the Yahoo! Network Division, has announced that Yahoo has introduced a new company mission statement:

To connect people to their passions, communities, and the world’s knowledge.

I thought it would be interesting to compare Yahoo’s mission statement with that of Google’s:

  • Yahoo! : To connect people to their passions, communities, and the world’s knowledge.
  • Google : To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Sure, Yahoo’s new mission clearly differentiates its path from Google’s with Yahoo’s emphasis on the user life experience and emotions, with the terms connect, people, passions, communities.

However, I believe that such a difference is quite evident, as Google has taken a different approach of connecting its users to Google search as its core, rather than to each other, like a network operates; hence Google’s success in search.

The main difference is the use of the two terms knowledge and information.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the two terms as follows:

  • Knowledge : a (1) : the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association (2) : acquaintance with or understanding of a science, art, or technique b (1) : the fact or condition of being aware of something (2) : the range of one’s information or understanding
  • Information : a (1) : knowledge obtained from investigation, study, or instruction (2) : INTELLIGENCE, NEWS (3) : FACTS, DATA b : the attribute inherent in and communicated by one of two or more alternative sequences or arrangements of something (as nucleotides in DNA or binary digits in a computer program) that produce specific effects c (1) : a signal or character (as in a communication system or computer) representing data (2) : something (as a message, experimental data, or a picture) which justifies change in a construct (as a plan or theory) that represents physical or mental experience or another construct d : a quantitative measure of the content of information; specifically : a numerical quantity that measures the uncertainty in the outcome of an experiment to be performed

Interesting choice of words here and again, quite reflective of the difference between these two companies,

  • Yahoo! : Providing knowledge obtained via personal experience, association, awareness and understanding. (Answers,, Flickr, Inclusion)
  • Google : Providing information obtained via investigation, study, data, measurement and numerical quantities. (PageRank, Algortihm, Link Measurement, Profiling)

Two very different and exciting directions from these two companies, makes you wonder who will win in the end? Man or machine?

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Loren Baker
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  • Wendy Piersall

    I remember seeing a few weeks ago that Yahoo has a far larger female audience than Google and I wondered why.

    Question answered. 😀

  • Pablo Palatnik

    The change in direction was inevitable for Yahoo! Thier new mission statement completley makes sense with where they stand now and where they should go in the future. Even though Google isn’t invovled much in the social space as thier focus is search, I think they will move in that direction as well. Not like Yahoo, but won’t stay completley out. This will give Yahoo more of an identity and maybe we’ll see a larger demographic change in engines in the next year or so.

  • Lucas Castro

    despite all cheap talking that social collab will override machine work, Google proves that machines can still make a really good job.

    So this lead us to a very good point: what is the problem, collaboration or yahoo?

  • Jon Bell

    This issue is summed up nicely by the following test. Do a search for “porn” on Google.

    Now go to delicious and load up the popular page:

    This works for almost any term, especially if it’s prone to abuse and heavy marketing. Delicious will always float the best sites for the topic. Google will do a pretty good job, but not as good and covered with ads.

  • GaryB

    Claptrap. The difference between Yahoo and Google is that Google has executed better at making money off of user’s attention. I’d call it business plan vs business plan. Google has tended and still does tend to have lighter, cleaner interfaces. Even now, just look at yahoo mail vs gmail.

    This is a battle of business execution and user interface, nothing else.

  • kuza55

    @Pablo Palatnik:
    Google does have Orkut, but since that is an invite-only system, it hasn’t seen the same success that MySpace has.

    And does there need to be some kind of winner? Can’t they just co-exist?

  • Meh

    This is a nice little analyzation, but with all due respect, ultimately useless. This is a ***Mission Statement***. Mission Statements are quaint little public relation bolsters, little slogans, catch phrases, show tunes, or overall, the Small Picture.

    I can see the significance of making this change, however, I do think this should arouse our interests somehow, and I do thank you for the update I was unaware of, but it should not necessarily make us question the performance of the companies.

    I’ve been on a lot of techy teams for all sorts of activities; robots, programming, racing, etc., but do you know what? These slogans and mission statements are rather useless. I’ve seen plenty of teams with mission statements better than my team’s, sometimes those teams do better, sometimes they do not. The very same goes for the other mission statements of poorer quality and the rise or downfall of companies and their mission statements. Even some teams and companies with a confirmed direction in a mission statement go against that statement for a year or so.

    Ultimately, the mission statement is a grammarian war, and has little grounds concerning these two companies. If we want to make a comparison on performance, quality, longevity, growth in the industry, etc., please let us not be concerned with the mission statement. To me it seems like a waste of brain power.

    Instead, compare Yahoo groups to Google groups, Gmail to Yahoo mail, or either messenger. There’s really better things to be discussing. Please clearly see through the politics.

    Sincerely, for great justice, truly yours,

    • Gary

      V, I am from the old school and I very much believe in mission statements that are clear and concise with what a company is all about. I would add that the internal and external statements should be the same and consistent with each other. I think this is why company statements seem to be just empty voids. I must say that a second line must be added to a mission statement telling me how they intent on accomplishing this “promise”.

      This is one way for me to make a purchasing decision, I always like to match the statements to what I am getting from a company, is they following there mission statement, if the product or services are that bad then I know that I should not be buying from this company.

      I am putting together a company with my son at this moment and we are going round and round on what a mission statement should be about. Our philosphy on business is pretty much in line but this statement issue has us in a deep discussion of morals etc, believe it or not.

      I see a mission statement much like the cover of a book, it must be inticing and inviting but the contents of the book will prevail as to the quality of the read. I remember a very specific instance when I work for a multi-national company and the mission statement went something like this: “If we do not take care of our customers, someone else will”. This statement was taken very seriously by one of our large customer (and account) when it through it into our face because he felt we were not taking care of his company, and under the circumstances I had to agree with him.

  • Ben Joseph

    Thanks for analyzing the diction in their mission statements. Good Job.

  • Pablo Palatnik

    @kuza55 :

    Foolish me. Forgot about Orkut which does indeed play a big role in the social space for Google itself. Your 100% right, since it is an invite-only system, it never hit the mainstream as myspace or facebook did and now its too late for that type of success.

    As far as your question on co-existing…that’s exactly why Yahoo is taking the direction its taking on now.

  • Sina

    Very interesting notion – I think both are useful methodologies, but for different things. I think each company is good at what to do, but if Yahoo want to keep up with Google in areas such as Search, Mail, and Video, they need to improve their automated technology as well as work on their social aspect of their website.

    Also, it’s important to note that users of social sites are quite fickle. One wrong move by Yahoo on a particular service (e.g. Yahoo TV) and users may switch to a different service. Search users are not quite so fickle – it takes a significantly improved product for users to change their default search engine.

  • Balamurali Balachandiran

    This is a nice article. My opinion is; Google’s path is clear and it is well set along the mission however, Yahoo needs to perform more to ahieve its target.

    Google has been the winner due to its simplicity and very much user friendlyness in their user interface designs in each and every application. It seems that they study the user expectations well before doing an application. That’s why they are always different and most appreciated.

  • e~s

    Haha, both statements are similar except that Yahoo’s one has more corporate BS-speak in it than Google’s one. No wonder I always liked Google better… I get your point though, and the prevalence of user-generated content in Yahoo’s ventures is indeed noticeable and reflected in their statement.

  • Jack

    Look up Merriam-Webster’s definition for “Yahoo” and the light will definitely come on.

    Yahoo’s so-called mission statement, “To connect people to their passions, communities, and the world’s knowledge,”

    … another way of saying…..

    “We at Yahoo happily, eagerly and without resistance or hesitation of any kind immediately connect (uh, identify) any Yahoo member on earth to the secret police, death squad or kangaroo court of any dictatorial regime, rogue state or human rights abuser even if such identification will obviously result in said Yahoo member’s arrest, torture, life-long imprisonment and/or death.

    “Our other mission is to cram as much unwanted software into your personal computing experience as we can possibly get away with, whether we have your permission or not, which helps significantly with our first mission.

    “Together, these dual missions increase our bottom line, which drown out the horrific screams of agony of those we’ve ‘connected,’ and, for that matter, the wails of sorrow cried by their families for years to come.

    “Yahoo – it’s the money, stupid, and nothing else.”

  • mookie

    old news…

    Jack: Name a company that does say, “it’s the money, stupid, and nothing else.” Don’t be so naive. If companies were not into making money, what are they here for? The good will of the citizens of the Earth? Get off your Google Fanboy soapbox.

  • Bo Lu

    Both will win.

  • Jack

    First, “Mookie,” I don’t give a speck of flyspit about Google (other than their being a good search engine). It’s simply they can succeed in counting dollars without also having to count bodies (missing or otherwise).

    And yes, as a matter of fact, the “good will” of a company IS part of its bottom line. It actually has a net worth which is always argued when determining a company’s value (I know, this probably comes as a shock to you. I am sorry).

    So when “…the citizens of the Earth” begin to chant “Yahoo means jail” (which could be just a few more unwarranted arrests away), you’ll be able to see how important the concept of “Good Will” actually is to a company.

    I bet that will be a new experience for you, Mookie!

  • DrivenByReason

    Great article – man vs machine – on a point of principle for the internet. I suspect there is room for both and both will achieve dominance in its own niche. However I suspect the machine niche might be the overwhelmingly larger one – like Google!

    I did a recent blog on company mission statements. Its really fascinating to see how they are constructed and what keywords they are using to reinforce their company values – as your article above points out.