Note: I wrote this on Thursday before Microsoft's latest bid for Yahoo; it's a follow-up to a post I wrote six months ago. I have two comments on Microsoft's offer: 1) It's aggressive and it's a sweetheart deal for Yahoo's shareholders; I think Yahoo's board will accept it; and 2) nevertheless, the issues I present are the same; it just becomes Microsoft's problem.
It's been seven months or so since Yahoo chief and co-founder Jerry Yang replaced Terry Semel at the helm of the ailing internet giant. At the time, I pondered the obvious question: Can Yang fix Yahoo?
For the record, I thought the board acted rashly in appointing Yang--a relatively inexperienced executive--to perform what would clearly be a challenging turnaround. I didn't think he had the experience to pull it off.
At the time, I thought that Yang--a visionary--wasn't what Yahoo needed. I thought Yahoo's problem was largely failed execution and missed opportunities in search advertising that allowed Google to leapfrog its more mature rival.
At this point, I'm even more convinced that Yang was the wrong choice. But I think the problem is bigger than missed opportunity and failed execution. The company does indeed need a new vision. And it needs a CEO who's capable of articulating and selling that vision down through the ranks and ensuring everybody's goals are aligned.
That's a tall order, but it can be done. Lou Gerstner did it at IBM, and that was no walk in the park. But Jerry Yang is no Lou Gerstner.… Read more