In Sign of Priorities, Yahoo's Mayer Accelerates IntoNow Product Update

One of Portal's Most Promising Technologies Gets Boost From Incoming CEO

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Adam Cahan
Adam Cahan

New Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is already making her presence felt inside Yahoo product teams.

One of the first groups to act on her direction? IntoNow. The 20-person team was scheduled to release a major update to its second-screen app in late August timed to the start of the fall TV-show season. But that timeline changed when Ms. Mayer held a product review with the staff following her recent hiring as Yahoo CEO and urged them to release the update as soon as possible.

"She wildly accelerated our plans," IntoNow founder Adam Cahan said in an interview Monday. Ms. Mayer had the team push out the update -- live today -- about a month ahead of schedule. Why? "Part of it was getting out during the Olympics, but it was also that essentially faster is almost always better," Mr. Cahan said of Ms. Mayer's thinking. "In general in mobile, you want to constantly be engaging with consumers," he said of her feedback. "If you look at adoption rates, the more you're regularly innovating in the market, the better off you are."

The app, which Yahoo acquired last spring along with its small team, has been downloaded 3 million times across iOS and Android devices, Mr. Cahan said. IntoNow is widely viewed as one of the most promising tech products in the newly product-focused Yahoo.

The app surfaces content on tablets and mobile phones that complements the TV show or live event that someone is watching on TV at that very moment. The update lets IntoNow users do a few new things, including: capture and share still images of a moment they just watched on TV; get more detailed information and content related to the people and subjects that are being televised rather than the "evergreen" content they've gotten up to now; and discover and buy songs that just played on their TV, whether in a sitcom or a live event.

Ms. Mayer was said to be most impressed with this last feature. "She is very guided by things like user experience and her feedback for us was ... on making sure you're getting those experiences right," he said. "Personally, getting that kind of feedback from a CEO is extraordinary and definitely raises the game."

The app includes a sponsorship from Proctor & Gamble built around the Olympics, which is part of a bigger ad package with Yahoo. Mr. Cahan said being able to tap into Yahoo's scale is a big advantage for IntoNow over its competitors when it comes to monetization.

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