Yahoo – but is there anything really to cheer about?

I was going to write up something earlier today when the news was first breaking about Carol Bartz being rumoured to be the next Yahoo CEO, but I figured it would be more interesting to watch the story develop. So now we know that Bartz did indeed get offered the job and accepted. This was quickly followed up on with the news that Sue Decker would be leaving – couldn’t happen soon enough in my opinion. It has also been interesting reading much of the punditry that has been flowing for the better part of the day; and will likely continue for sometime. There’s nothing like fresh meat on the block to get bloggers of all stripes salivating – no more echo … for a couple of days anyway.

While everyone was centering around the actual news of the hiring there were more than a few bloggers that questioned whether or not this was actually the right choice given the lack of knowledge about the web that people say Bartz is lacking. Duh! like that is really some great mystery – give it a rest will ya. The web is a business just like any other business. Just because it is suppose to have this magical quality to be world changing doesn’t change the fact that the idea is to make money. Does the fact that Bartz led a multi-million dollar company into being a Billion dollar company not suggest that she has enough smarts to possible do what Yang, Decker and Semel couldn’t do – not on your life.

More than a few people have suggested that she immediately hire some really smart web people to try and turn around the company. Did we forget that this is the company that was suppose to have some of the smartest web people working for them as the company tumbled into the basement. Maybe what Yahoo really needs is [web] business smart people – you know those people who actually have an understanding that to be a successful web company you have to be first a successful company.

Sound like a misnomer? Well not really if you think about it for two seconds. The fact that Bartz is a successful tech business person with more guts than a lot of us have (remember this woman fought breast cancer at the same time she was changing the corporate culture at Autodesk). If anything her first priority will be to get the rank and file in the company to once again believe in themselves and Yahoo. The best way to do this? Start swinging the axe at those entrenched corporate bureaucrats that have destroyed the company.

As Susan Mernit said in her post today about the news

  • The rank and file is hangin’ in there, but they are pretty damned fried. Yahoo! is a sweet deal for certain sorts of front end engineer and product developer types, but even the most stalwart (survived 3 layoffs) are starting to look around.
  • Last time, the old guard won. Mostly, it’s the old-timers–not the social media kids, the Microsofties, or the start-up animals–who are still there. And they protect their buddies, and their turf. So, remember, they’ve survived LOTS of re-orgs and, like moss, they’re still growing there.
  • and really if anyone of the talking heads speak from any real knowledge on this it is Susan as she was once the Director of Global Product at Yahoo Personals.

    Yahoo has needed a really big shakeup for sometime now but from the top down. The company has been decimated in its recent battles to stave of Microsoft and in its attempts to prostitute itself to Google. I have seen more than a few people from Yahoo on places like Twitter and Friendfeed and these are smart web people and I hope Bartz does turn it around but it is going to take more than just the empty platitudes. Perhaps the exiting stage left by Decker is a real signal of the changes to come. I hope they are deep and leave the executive bathrooms full of people shitting bricks about losing their jobs – because they should.

    Myself.. well if I had the money I’d be buying Yahoo stock right now because I think there is going to be some surprises in the air and the rank and file along with Yahoo users are going to be the winners.