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Yahoo plans return to search engine roots with a vengeance

1 February 2014, 9:07 am EST By Randell Suba Tech Times
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Will Yahoo score again in the search engine world? CEO Marissa Mayer is said to have initiated projects "Fast Break" and "Curveball" to come up with a new search engine for the company and free itself from its ties with Microsoft.  ( CJ Martin )

Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer, it seems, is a fan of basketball and baseball. Per latest reports, she has given the nod to projects "Fast Break" and "Curveball" that are aimed to help the company get a foothold in the search engine market.

Kara Swisher of Re/Code reported, based on information from Yahoo insiders, that the two initiatives are expected to work hand in hand to revive Yahoo's search engine business that has been struggling for years.

"Sources said the plan is being done as part of a contemplation of how Yahoo can accelerate the end of - or actually end - its longterm search and advertising partnership with Microsoft. Currently, Yahoo only has control over the search experience, but Mayer clearly wants more purview over the business," wrote Swisher.

"...Mayer has put a priority on the projects - a three- to four-month time frame - which could eventually result in a full search engine, possibly more oriented to mobile than the desktop, where Yahoo once played big," she added.

At the moment, Yahoo's search engine depends on a deal it penned with Microsoft in 2009. The 10-year deal allows users to experience what they know as Yahoo but with Microsoft search and advertisements working underneath. This scheme is responsible for 31 percent of Yahoo's revenue, a considerable amount that makes it dependent on Microsoft and very vulnerable.

Sources told Re/code that the project is being fast tracked and is being led by the top executives of Yahoo. The list includes senior vice president of platforms Jay Rossiter; search products SVP Laurie Mann; and mobile and emerging products SVP Adam Cahan.

The details about Fastbreak and Curveball  have not been disclosed but the primary goal of the these projects is reportedly to end the partnership of the company with Microsoft and come up with a search engine that will give Yahoo full control.

Mayer wants the company at the helm of its search engine business as it tries to gain some more traction and catch up with Google and Microsoft. As of December, Yahoo as a 10.8 percent share of search trailing Microsoft and Google with 18.2 percent and 67.3 percent, respectively, based on a report by comScore. This translates to two billion searches on Yahoo compared to 3.3 billion  for Microsoft and 12.3 billion for Google.

Yahoo has not commented about the two projects but if ever they are true, Fastbreak, as its name suggests, may help the company end its deal with Microsoft while Curveball might serve as a surprise for Google and Bing.  Mayer who was responsible search products while at Google  might help Yahoo score and get back into the search engine game if she called the right plays.

Shares of Yahoo closed up 1.98 percent at $36.01 on Friday.

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