In part four of our five part interview, Yahoo’s audience group senior VP Jeff Dossett, who runs the Santa Monica office, talks about whether having an L.A. office still makes sense, his view on infusing social media into the portal experience, and how Yahoo can compete against Google in search.
For more on Dossett, read the introduction to part one of our interview. Reads part two here and part three here.
Ben Fritz: You mentioned the value of being here in Santa Monica. Obviously this office was started when the Media Group was a more separate entity and was being headed by someone who came from the more traditional media business trying to do something more Hollywood in terms of programming.
Now, you’re heading the audience group that includes the stuff in Santa Monica, and includes some stuff up in Sunnyvale – Is there still much value in being in Santa Monica? If this were all to move to Sunnyvale right now, would it make a big difference?
Jeff Dossett: I think there’s tremendous value being here in Santa Monica. First of all, as I mentioned earlier, this is an incredible market of creativity and innovation in and around consumer content and media experiences. From a partnering perspective, from a talent pool to attract to Yahoo, to our ability to interface and interact face to face, day in and day out, with movie studies for premieres or showings, or even just developing relationships with the key, influential leaders in the media and entertainment business. You asked right at the beginning about the things that sort of attracted me to Yahoo; being in this environment, in this office, close to this industry is a strong attractor.
I do think that if you step back and look at all user behavior online, and you think from a multi-decade perspective – try to think out five, ten, twenty years – one of the most significant trends will be the willingness of users to consume more entertainment in total online, and certainly more content which is traditionally best created in this community and this marketplace. I think there’s a great collaboration to be had as that user behavior changes over time.
BF: Who do you see your competitors as, now? We talked about the media companies, but you’re a portal, and there’s a traditional portal experience in which MSN and AOL are obviously still there competing, and have their own problems, but do you see your competition more broadly than Yahoo’s competition may have been three years ago? Whether it’s social media, whether it’s the old media companies we talked about a little bit before, whether it’s online service companies, who do you think about your main competitors as being?