Anil John
Making Digital Services Secure and Trustworthy

Anil John

Yahoo, Identity Federation, and You as a Valuable Product

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Yahoo just got a lot more interesting to me. Not because of any new application or content strategy, and only peripherally due to their recent federation announcement. No, it is because of what their recent announcement is signaling about their realization of what they have given away, and what they are willing to do to get it back. Let me explain.

Amidst the brilliantly managed and orchestrated global symphony performance that was the OpenID Connect launch, there was a discordant note from Yahoo, an OpenID Foundation corporate board member, when it announced that it would no longer be a Google or facebook relying party. I am sure that the awkwardness of the timing of the announcement was unintentional, but what it signifies about Yahoo is very interesting.

In a previous blog post, I had written about platforms in a multi-sided market, and used Google as an example (just as applicable to facebook and others) of how the Google platform is put together in order to drive consumers across their properties while packaging their targeted knowledge of the consumer to earn revenue from advertisers.

The starting point to make this happen effectively in a seamless and joined-up way across multiple channels is predicated on “owning the identity/user/account/consumer”. This was the critical piece that Yahoo was giving up to Google and facebook when it allowed their users to log in to Yahoo using their existing credentials. No more!

What this signifies to me is two things:

  1. Yahoo leadership is willing to let go of the past and make the tough calls needed for success. Very Drucker-ish
  2. Yahoo is building out their platform strategy and are executing on the critical role that identity plays in that strategy’s success

I am simultaneously impressed and disappointed. Impressed as to the leadership being demonstrated to pivot the strategic direction of an internet-scale company. Disappointed that Yahoo, one of the early giants of the internet, is becoming just one more company that will collect, process, slice and dice our behavior to sell that information to the highest bidder.


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This blog post first appeared on Anil John | Blog ( The opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent my employer’s view in any way.

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