One of the hardest parts of successful product management is maintaining the original simplicity of a product over many versions of a product.
New types of customers can translate into new features. Expanding into new countries often requires supporting the nuances of that market. Customer support, legal, and sales operational issues usually leads to even more features. Facebook was once a simple product. It’s now overwhelming. You can friend people, subscribe to them, poke them, put them in lists, publish stuff to just my friends, friends of friends, etc. Users need to make lots of decisions. Decisions wear you down.
Yahoo is another example of a horribly mismanaged product. Yet, for a different reason than Facebook. Most of its CEOs (until Marrisa) had no sense of product management. They were basically either sales guys or operational folks, and were forced to let each product line do their own product management. Big mistake. To the customer there is just one Yahoo.com product. While internally Yahoo had 10 different companies and products fighting each other or rubbing each others back for traffic integration favors.
Tumblr is the rare breed. Whereas most products inevitably add complexity Tumblr got simpler and easier to use over its many iterations. It do so while achieving massive scale across the globe. I am hoping the Tumblr DNA spreads through Yahoo.