Ya­hoo!’s Woes Have Oil Traders Chat­ter­ing

Com­modi­ties ▶ Many rely on the Mes­sen­ger ser­vice to stay in touch ▶ “Ev­ery­body uses it, and you keep your Ya­hoo wher­ever you go”

Bloomberg Businessweek (North America) - - Markets/ Finance -

Oil traders take price slumps, sanc­tions, and nat­u­ral dis­as­ters in stride. The de­cline of a vin­tage in­ter­net com­pany has them scram­bling.

Ya­hoo!’ s chat ser­vice, Mes­sen­ger, has for al­most 18 years been the de­fault com­mu­ni­ca­tion tool for the men and women who each day trade bil­lions of dol­lars’ worth of crude and petroleum prod­ucts around the planet. From Singapore to Rot­ter­dam, deals are pitched, con­tracts are ne­go­ti­ated, and lunch dates are made on Mes­sen­ger.

Now the com­pany’s in­ter­net as­sets, in­clud­ing its chat ser­vice, are up for sale, and the fu­ture of Mes­sen­ger is un­cer­tain. Ya­hoo, mean­while, is forc­ing new users to con­nect via an up­dated ver­sion that com­pli­ance of­fi­cers at some trad­ing houses have de­clared of­flim­its be­cause chats can’t be recorded and logged in­ter­nally—some­thing the old ver­sion al­lows.

So­car Trad­ing, a Geneva-based arm of Azer­bai­jan’s na­tional oil com­pany, has al­ready set up a work­ing group to find a so­lu­tion for its em­ploy­ees. While it’s iden­ti­fied po­ten­tial al­ter­na­tives, the main is­sue is whether the peo­ple they want to talk to will join in. “There is not much sense in pro­vid­ing a prod­uct with great com­pli­ance func­tion­al­ity if none of the in­dus­try are us­ing it,” says Azru Az­i­mov, the trad­ing group’s chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer.

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