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Yahoo’s five biggest mistakes

Exerts say these things as Yahoo’s five mistakes

1. Aborted Projects
Yahoo! is rife with projects that have been started, with great fanfare, only to die quietly months, sometimes years, later.

2. Missing the Google Express
Yahoo! had the chance to buy Google in 2002. Then-Chief Executive Terry Semel reportedly balked at the $5 billion price after months of negotiation. In retrospect, that was clearly a mistake.

No Yahoo! employees would touch that one. “I have no idea,” one employee said.

“I need to go off to a meeting now,” another answered.

3. Hiring Terry Semel
Another commonly cited mistake: hiring former Warner Bros. studio honcho Terry Semel as chief executive. Yahoo! stumbled in the wake of the tech bust early in the decade. It brought in Semel to turn things around. In retrospect, however, Semel was just riding a powerful rebound that other managers, such as the boys at Google, were playing far more skillfully. Semel declined to buy Google; at the same time, he funded a push into media that has largely foundered.

“You should really talk to a press spokesperson about that,” one employee said.

4. Failing to Click With DoubleClick
Another deal Yahoo! missed out on was DoubleClick. The advertising network specialized in the display ads that had long been Yahoo!’s strength as it struggled to hold back a surging Google. But when Yahoo! didn’t move quick enough to purchase the ad network, Google pounced, helping to close the gap.

“I don’t know, I’m not in a position to really speculate,” one employee said as he clutched a pair of boxes and a cup of juice.

5. Not Bonding With Ballmer
Perhaps Yahoo!’s biggest bonehead maneuver was failing to deal with Microsoft’s acquisition offer quickly and cleanly. As a result, the drama dragged on for months, sapping Yahoo!’s energy and opening the door to Carl Icahn, the aggressive corporate raider who grabbed three seats on Yahoo!’s board in August. The move undoubtedly led to Yang’s ouster this week.

“It’s difficult to know, difficult to know,” a Yahoo employee said when asked about the matter.

All these mistakes can be summed up in one word: indecisiveness. One employee, at least, wasn’t shy about blaming management for the problem. “When you hear the culture is indecisive, that’s referring to people who are higher up,” one employee said. “Many of the employees are making great efforts to turn the tide.”

Other employees blamed bigger problems for Yahoo!’s woes. Some cited vague “macroeconomic” problems. Others cited competition from newer, “cooler,” Web brands such as MySpace and Google.

And several argued that Yahoo! can still compete. One mentioned Yahoo!’s cloud computing initiative as an effort that could help the company claw its way forward once again. “It’s a talented group of individuals, and we’re working on some interesting technologies,” he said.

“We are competitive, particularly with Yahoo! Mail and Finance,” another added.

And, unlike banks and domestic auto manufacturers, no one at Yahoo! is asking for a government bailout. “I don’t think anyone in this industry is going to pop that question,” one engineer said, shaking his head. “If you do, you’re admitting you’ve got nothing left, no future.”

God bless Silicon Valley.

November 20, 2008 - Posted by | global | , , , ,

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