Mario Sundar

LinkedIn's 2nd PR hire. These are my thoughts on products, public relations, and startups.

If Elephants can dance, so can Yahoo!

The Yahoo! memo outage brought up a flurry of discussions within the blogosphere. I thought it may be interesting to address a few view blog posts on the topic:

John Furrier at Podtech says:

Personally I think that it’s a ‘dead man walking’ memo – he must be one step out the door to write that piece.It felt nothing like leadership or innovation to me.

To actually implement massive change is difficult for large companies.

Well, I’d agree that it is difficult to implement change in large companies, but it has been done before and the difference is in the kind of leader the company has. Yahoo! is not bigger than GE nor IBM, both of which effected a turnaround due to amazing leadership from Jack Welch and Lou Gerstner, respectively.

Asked about the challenges he faced in driving that kind of performance at GE, Welch noted that the early 1980s represented a stormy time for the company, in part because GE was buffeted by competition from Japanese companies.

Too many managers avoid making hard choices and hurt not only their companies but, in the long run, the employees whom they are trying to protect, he argued.

I don’t see any difference between the situation Welch was talking about and the predicament Yahoo! seems to be in now (just replace Japanese companies, with Google and web 2.0 companies) and I notice the immense similarity between what Brad writes today and what Welch said then:

Welch felt like a swine when the Wall Street Journal wrote a spate of front-page stories on the Kidder Peabody scandal. Amid the bad publicity, he and others at GE were called “crooks and jokes.” “Your career isn’t always linear,” he said. “But what matters is how well you get back on the horse.”

Somebody has been reading the Wharton archives!? :)

Here’s Zdnet’s Donna, questionning WSJ’s editorial policies:

How can its readers “discriminate” if the WSJ does not disclose how it came into possession of the Yahoo “document,” why Garlinghouse wrote it and who were its intended recipients?

Lisa Whelan at Vox questions if this will have an impact on Yahoo!’s social media acquisitions:

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, the internal reaction to this memo does to Yahoo’s social media plans.

I believe it most definitely will. The companies they have acquired (Bix, Kenetworks) and are in the process of acquiring (MyBlogLog) just cost millions but what Brad’s memo underlines is the larger scale strategy that seems to be missing under these challenging times.

It’d be interesting to see if this blog chatter brings out a stronger response from Yahoo!’s CEO Terry Semel, the changes that everybody is waiting for, will Brad be the first change — because the way a large company conducts itself in challenging situations defines its brand image and its longevity.


Here’s my original post on the “Peanut Butter” memo

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