Yahoo Prioritizes Search-Engine Diversification

Ernesto Luciano, General Counsel, Hispanic Americas division, Yahoo
Ernesto Luciano, General Counsel Hispanic Americas division, Yahoo

Yahoo may be well-known for creating one of the first Internet directories, but it is much more than a search engine. Yahoo owns the popular photo-sharing service Flickr, which it acquired in 2005, and under the leadership of CEO Marissa Mayer, the Internet company acquired microblogging-social networking platform Tumblr in 2013. The two acquisitions have proven key assets in Yahoo’s pursuit of the rapidly growing and highly connected Hispanic market. General counsel for the Hispanic Americas division, Ernesto Luciano, chats with HE about how Yahoo continues to innovate while keeping pace with competition.

A lot of people are moving from their desktops and getting information from their mobile devices. How is Yahoo dealing with this shift?

We’d like to be known as a mobile company, and we’ve invested a lot of resources and attention to get there. Clear manifestations of that mission are our mobile apps (including the Yahoo Mail app and Yahoo News Digest). Our weather app has also received various awards for its look and feel.

Why is it important for Yahoo to target the US Hispanic audience?

We know Hispanics tend to use mobile devices with more frequency than non-Hispanics, just by virtue of being such a young demographic. Hispanics have a purchasing power upwards of a trillion dollars and are more likely to make purchases based on word-of-mouth recommendations. Latinos like to share information over social media about purchases and preferences more than any other demographic. This all stems from the cultural custom of being inclusive of family and that inclusiveness now extends to social networks. Yahoo wants to be part of their daily habits, from waking up to checking the weather, finance, news, and sports updates.

There is so much online content it’s tough to monitor it all. With platforms that allow user posting, how does Yahoo protect itself from copyright infringement?

Yahoo has deep and profound respect for copyright holders and media rights. We use content in creative ways, but also respect the rights of those creators. When we receive claims from third parties of infringement carried out on Yahoo sites, we take those claims very seriously. Our customer-care team investigates the matter, and if something comes up that’s not within our guidelines, it is escalated to the legal team for us to take a look and determine the best way forward.

How does the pace of evolution on the Internet affect the way Yahoo expands in Latin America?

My role requires me to stay up-to-date on international policy. For example, if we’re going to launch a new product, I have to think about how that might impact copyright or privacy laws throughout the Americas. I’m working on projects today that have only come into play within the last 18 months or so. I have to be conscious that products released both in the United States and in Latin America comply with the differing judicial precedents region to region. That being said, I have been observing Latin American governments and feel confident addressing the legal issues related to our industry on an international scale.

What do you see as the biggest challenge for you and your team in the next year or so?

Competition. We’re seeing many of the big players in the industry show up to the party and ramp up their efforts to target the US Hispanic and Latin American markets. Recruiting is also a challenge as companies work hard to attract and retain top talent. At Yahoo, we have a renewed focus to create the best work environments and offer perks like free smartphones, updated computers, and food. In the last few months, we’ve seen a spike in the number of applications we receive­—upwards of 17,000 résumés in a single week. On average, about 10 percent of our new hires each quarter are boomerangs, meaning previous Yahoos who return.