The company, which offers consumer services ranging from email to fantasy sports, is betting that sponsoring fundamental research will help it tackle some of its biggest challenges, including battling the technological prowess of Google Inc.
The research push, “has huge consequences for the business if we do things right,” says Usama Fayyad, Yahoo’s chief data officer.
Central to Yahoo’s goal is its ability to record what millions of consumers do every day, and to study how changes to the company’s Web services affect their behavior. Internet companies in the past have largely lacked the systems and focus to mine data for research, but now they’re viewing it as a key competitive pursuit. For economists, Web operations are data-rich fantasy lands where they can observe in real-time the behavior of millions of consumers in varied marketplaces far more effectively than ever before.