It seems my friends at Yahoo! are waiting with baited breath over what might be announced tonight or tomorrow. I'm sure that some of the rumors are true. Dan R. leaving... (maybe to pursue a career in politics? It's possible, and he'd be great at it. I'd vote for him.) Terry leaving. Lloyd leaving (hopefully, the guy seemed Lost... pun intended). Sue taking over more. Fresh CEO. Shut down Yahollywood. 20% reduction...
We shall see.
I haven't commented on the whole peanut butter thing. It's not really my place. But what Brad described in his email touches on most of the reasons why I decided to leave Y!. Even his passion for the company rang true. I've said that my blood runs purple and yellow as well. So I can understand his frustration and his need to express it.
I left because it was very difficult to get anything done. There were way too many hoops and approvals and layers to for me to feel like I could truly innovate. At the same time, few people took responsibility for the problem. I left because it was almost impossible to move up. There was a pervasive insecurity that kept Y! looking outside for leadership instead of inside-- especially at the Director and VP levels. This meant that people at my level were roadblocked. They kept hiring on more layers. I remember being in a QA meeting, trying to launch a product, with my boss's boss's boss. My boss and my boss's boss were there as well. It's a good thing that my direct reports weren't there because time would have stopped and the universe would have collapsed into itself. Because of these issues and more, many creative, passionate, and driven people have left, or are about to leave. All that will remain are people that think that what they do is "just a job." ... not good.
Just as I'm writing this, the news has come in. At least part of it. Dan R. is leaving. Lloyd is leaving. Terry is staying. They seem to be splitting the COO role into two. Sue taking over all of the money... sales, etc. and they are going to hire someone to run the product. No reductions right now, at least nothing major. I bet there will be more strategic cutting of fat in the senior management level. One can hope anyway.
I don't revel in Yahoo's struggle. I really do love that company. I want them to succeed in every way. I believe in them. But they've lost their focus. I've been saying that for a long time. Long before I ever left.
If for some reason I actually had a say in the direction of the company, it would go something like this:
Stop trying to be everything to everyone. Concentrate on your core products. Search, Mail, News, IM, My Yahoo!, Mobile, and sales/advertising. Keep profitable vertical properties, but spin them off into their own brands. Please remember, and this is important... Not everything needs to be "Yahoo! this" and "Yahoo! that!" Putting the red Yahoo! in front of the service name does more harm than good, in my opinion. Why? Because people have a difficult time differentiating services. Because it's more difficult for people to identify with an uber brand. Because people need to hang their hat on that single thing a company/brand does. ie. Google=Search, Ebay=Auctions, Microsoft=Software, Fox=TV, Coca-Cola=Bubbly Beverage, etc. Yes, all of these companies do way more than that one thing, but in order for a brand to succeed, there needs to be an appearance of focus. I think a good example of this is when Launch turned into Yahoo! Music. Launch was a great brand in the Internet music space... they worked hard to build it. Yahoo! Music? What's that? It would be as if YouTube became Google Video. Or Blogger became Google Blogs. Boooring! Not that these are the best examples, they just came to mind. Spinning out verticals would foster more innovation and speed up development.
If I had a say, I would want Yahoo! to start thinking like a technology company again. Not an entertainment company. Innovation and being smarter than everyone else is where the action is. Embrace your inner geek again Yahoo!
I also feel that the Yahoo! homepage has rapidly deteriorated over the past 18 months into a sensationalistic mess. I'm not talking about the design, I'm talking about the editorial approach and voice. The page continues to promote lowbrow or ridiculous distractions instead of legitimate information or areas that drive revenue. Britney Spears' cooch, the 9, magic tricks, decorating tips, etc. These "features" distract users from their original intent for visiting the site; either to search, get mail, shop, etc. All of which are optimized for making cash and depend on the homepage to drive their business. Plus, last I heard, there was a war going on.
I think that's all I have to say right now. I need to drive home to Santa Cruz. Y! will be better for these changes and this time of self reflection. The new year is around the corner, it's a good time to reboot.