Are we watching an awkward transition at Yahoo or something more like a collapse? To declare my biases openly, I hope it’s the former. Yahoo and Google need strong competitors to keep them on their toes. But what’s happening at Yahoo certainly does not look good. The company has gone through several “reorgs” in the past year and it appears there’s another one coming.
The impending reorganization seems, paradoxically, both a driver of the recent executive departures and a response to it. Techmeme has lots of gossip and discussion about the Yahoo employee exits. In particular, TechCrunch reports on the decision to leave by Delicious founder Joshua Schachter:
I was largely sidelined by the decisions of my management. So that was mostly the result rather than the cause, if that makes sense. It was an incredibly frustrating experience and I wish I was a lot more like Stewart [Butterfield] in terms of pushing my point of view.
This is the “other side” of being acquired by a larger company. Similar complaints have been made by entrepreneurs about Google, most notably in the cases of Dodgeball and dMarc, whose founders left Google in frustration.
The impending Yahoo reorganization is speculatively laid out in the Wall Street Journal and in more detail in AllThingsD. While few things are clear, it appears that a good deal more responsibility for both monetization and products will flow to Hilary Schneider, who is highly capable but has only been with the company since Fall, 2006.
There’s also been increasing speculation about CEO Jerry Yang’s tenure, given the turmoil. On a press call yesterday I was being prodded to make dire predictions about Yahoo’s future. I’m cautious about being glib about the whole situation. Yahoo has been “down” and come back before. For example, Yahoo was slumping in 2001, during the previous recession, when then CEO Tim Koogle quit the company.
There are still many talented, smart people at Yahoo and if this transition is skillfully managed, the company can come back. However, the stakes are much higher now than in 2001.