Change is here. Goodbye to Yahoo!, and Hello to Barnes and Noble [4]

August 13, 2009
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Things sure have been quiet on the blog. Turns out, I was spending many of my spare cycles on some changes culminating in the news I’m delivering here.

Sure, I could have put the obvious reference to Bowie’s song, but this one is more fun:

and

Like so many companies these days, Yahoo! has been going through many changes, and some of those changes are great. But some, well, aren’t, at least for what I like to do.

The good stuff, like the people, the tech, the new analytics tools (you think you’ve seen Yahoo! analytics? You haven’t seen half of it yet!), these will continue to be great reasons to keep an eye on Yahoo! and the cool stuff in the pipeline. But after about 3 1/2 great years there, the massive changes (3 CEOs, groups created and destroyed, MS almost acquired, almost Google partnership, search outsourced, etc., etc.) mean that the company I joined back then is not the company I was with these days. And so I started looking.

And, even in these terrible times, there are actually quite a few different opportunities out there for folks with analytics experience. Over the past few months, I saw openings in e-commerce

Things sure have been quiet on the blog. Turns out, I was spending many of my spare cycles on some changes culminating in the news I’m delivering here.

Sure, I could have put the obvious reference to Bowie’s song, but this one is more fun:

and

Like so many companies these days, Yahoo! has been going through many changes, and some of those changes are great. But some, well, aren’t, at least for what I like to do.

The good stuff, like the people, the tech, the new analytics tools (you think you’ve seen Yahoo! analytics? You haven’t seen half of it yet!), these will continue to be great reasons to keep an eye on Yahoo! and the cool stuff in the pipeline. But after about 3 1/2 great years there, the massive changes (3 CEOs, groups created and destroyed, MS almost acquired, almost Google partnership, search outsourced, etc., etc.) mean that the company I joined back then is not the company I was with these days. And so I started looking.

And, even in these terrible times, there are actually quite a few different opportunities out there for folks with analytics experience. Over the past few months, I saw openings in e-commerce sites, agencies of all sizes, data services companies, media companies, and even some clients. (If you are looking, don’t give up hope, and work your network!)

But one of the most interesting opportunities was from a sleeping giant. Barnes and Noble is the largest bookstore in the US, and one of the top e-commerce sites. And get this: it wasn’t tagged. That’s right, no 3rd party web analytic tracking system was being used to measure this top online store.

And now, things there are changing. New leadership (from HSN and eBay among others) is really starting to shake up the Barnes and Noble of old. You might have heard some of the stirrings:

  • Barnes and Noble has released e-books and readers on PC, Mac, iPhone and BlackBerry, including both paid and free books
  • Barnes and Noble now has free wireless in all the stores… the better to go online and read a book, if you prefer the online to the physical, and
  • Barnes and Noble recently announced that it would be the online bookstore for a hotly anticipated new e-book reader, the Plastic Logic reader.

So, when they basically said, “You can work on measuring and optimizing our sites the way you want to, almost from scratch. And help measure the next big e-reader. And change the way books and media are sold online. And drive how data innovation should permeate our org.”, I was pretty pleased.

By the time you read this, I will have resigned from my role at Yahoo!. We left on great terms; the folks there are all top notch and I’ll miss seeing the Sunnyvale teams; the NYC folks I know I’ll see again and soon.

And, in September, I’ll be starting up as VP of Analytics (Web Analytics and BI) focusing on the online side of the house. Barnes and Noble Online is based here in NYC, so I’ll be focused on just one time zone instead of dealing with the neverending day of NYC gliding into Sunnyvale. In fact, in a strange twist of fate, BN is located in the Port Authority Post Office building, across from Chelsea Market… a few floors down from Google (and a slew of other fun companies).

Now, it’s not to say my work isn’t cut out for me. Some folks who heard about this change sent me nice notes about “Amazon will crush you!” and “Books? People still read books?” and “BN destroys local bookstores”. Some of that might be true, but I also had a great conversation with a writer, a poet, who said that BN really respects the writer, the artist behind the books, while Amazon and Wal-Mart and Target all just “ship product”. If a bookstore can convince a poet that it’s more than just a store, well, that’s saying something.

But at the end of the day, every business has challenges. The difference here is that we are on the cusp of a huge change. E-Books are moving into every type of readable material, from newspapers and magazines to novels to textbooks. And no one has gotten it right yet… So there’s lots of room to make the experience better. And for all of it’s acceptance today, e-Commerce is also pretty young (the first e-commerce site was only in 1987) and so there are lots of ways to make it better as well.

So, like Remo Williams, the adventure begins.

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