Yahoo’s journey in India seems to be getting better after Marissa Mayer’s appointment as global CEO. For Hari Vasudev, head of Yahoo India R&D, this has certainly been so. In his assessment, the last one year has been an amazing year of innovation for the company, after Marissa defined a strategy outlining a structured approach with different phases—starting with people.
“Our first priority was to attract and retain top talent by being the absolutely best place to work,” says Hari, who needs no introduction in internet circles in the country. “Once that was addressed, we started focusing on launching some cool new products, inspiring and entertaining our users' daily habits. Our focus will continue to be on mobile and personalisation.”
Over the past few months Yahoo has delivered new releases of Yahoo! Mail, Weather, Flickr, a new homepage and new advertising formats. “We’ve achieved renewed traffic growth in the last few months and while there is still a long way to go, we’re off to very good start. Globally, and in India, our focus remains on making our products mobile-first, and making sure experiences are modern, intuitive and personal,” explains Hari.
Marissa has been a major influence, says Hari. The 38-year old Marissa has not only led Yahoo to acquire micro-blogging site Tumblr in a $1.1 billion acquisition, just the most notable in a series of buyouts, but has also addressed HR issues, by changing the company’s maternity leave policy by lengthening it, besides providing cash bonus to parents.
Thanks to such measures Yahoo is in a very happy place today. And Hari is loving this change. Yahoo’s monthly active users are up 20% to 800 million globally, including 350 million monthly active users on mobile.
Apart from being Yahoo’s India R&D head, which is the the second largest R&D centre for the company worldwide, he also leads Yahoo Answers & Yahoo Groups products globally. He has been with the firm over six years and has held various leadership positions within the platforms and search teams in the organisation.
He had also previously headed the cloud platform group at Yahoo India R&D.
“My biggest challenge right now is balancing the two roles that I have—as the product leader for a vertical area and the head of the India R&D centre. Leading the R&D centre in India requires me to manage deliverables across functions—be it product teams, or facilities or HR or finance. I need