Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Letters from ex-Yahoo!s

Over the last few weeks, I've received hundreds of letters from current and former Yahoo!s who are sympathetic with "Plan B." Here is a sampling. You can't write this stuff.
Dear Eric,

I have zero Yahoo! shares but I know your feeling about what's happening inside Yahoo! for the last 4 years. I've worked at Yahoo! for X years and I've warned the VPs about their mistakes. Of course, no one listened but then I figured out with the peanut butter manifesto that no one ever listens to anyone.

There are no problems with the engineers or producers, they are great. They could develop everything that Google ever wanted to be in less than a year and I know they do want it, more than any manager or director - or even the board - because they are geeks, just like me, and we want to do the best we possibly can, all the time.

The whole structure was compromised. Not only Semel, not only the board or the
vice-presidents, everything. So I left Yahoo!

But, weirdly enough, I still care for Yahoo! And I hate to see such a huge effort wasted.

The main problem at Yahoo! is that, long ago, they stopped caring about the user.

They care about Ads, and think that revenue will come from showing more Ads to the user at the same time (more banners) and forget that if they had more users they wouldn't need to put more banners and that more banners means less users.

They care about the development process, creating zillions of internal tools to give a better environment to the developers forgetting that all those tools are already available (most of them for free) and that developers could focus more in delivering good software for their users instead of themselves.

They care about having the longest list of products in the Internet but they forget that less is more! Google made that amount of money because they had one, and only one, technology available to their users. They had focus!

They care about buzz, paying fortunes to be in the media but they forget that having a very good product makes more buzz that any media company can make, the real users! The mouth to mouth buzz is much stronger, more durable and efficient than any advertise, promotion or interview in the local media because it is personal, it is global and free.

Finally, they try to care for their people, but they fail miserably. They build gyms, coffee shops, water fonts, have stock options, health insurance but they forget to thank a night spent working, they forget to acknowledge individual efforts, they forget to listen their co-workers, specially if they come from below your current position.

So, Eric, if you really want to change the game take that into account. Make the user, Yahoo!'s primary objective, a happy user browse more, come back later, click on your banners and give you money.

Focus on key products, spend the "extra dividends" into *real* Labs (not Ad-driven), expect results in medium and long term, give some small treats to employees (better than giving a big treat to one on a promotion), thank (properly) all technicians, engineers, producers, managers, etc for their extra effort but make clear that it's not the rule and stop them if they continue, build a company that people will
go happy to work, because this is not reality at Yahoo! today.

Yahoo! forces the costumer to "buy goods" once he/she enters the site like going to Virgin and being forced to buy at least one CD to get out of the shop. No one likes to be treated like this, no one will ever come back after that and we've learned it the hard way and some at Yahoo! haven't learned that yet, as you can see.

I'm tired to read the same bullshit every time: "this new search have a better Ad platform than the previous". For Christ sake, which user is interested in that?! They want answers, and for that, Google have, by far, the best answers. Google has smacked all Yahoo!'s key products and did more, while we were sitting ducks!

I have much more to say if you're really interested, together with some old but still undone ideas that only Yahoo! has the power to do today. Feel free to reply.



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Anonymous said...


3. Shutter the Yahoo! Media Group and campus in Los Angeles.

The Yahoo! Media Group has been a failure. There are no meaningful outputs from the group to speak of which have had any positive shareholder value-creating impact. Yahoo! shareholders should not incur additional investments in this group and repatriate key employees back to Sunnyvale, while eliminating other positions.

Eric Jackson said...

AS A MATTER OF FACT, I HAVE. If you have some facts to refute the argument contructed by our shareholder group, please do so. Thanks, Eric

Anonymous said...

So Mr. I'm a CEO with a blog... why dont you share the facts you discovered during your exhaustive research of the Yahoo! Media Group that leads you to say "There are no meaningful outputs from the group to speak of which have had any positive shareholder value-creating impact."

You try to say it as fact, then you say you've done research to back it up... so, why not share the details. Why be vague when you should be specific.

Sounds like someone blowing smoke.

So rather than fishing for facts from me... why dont you roll out some facts that you think back up a statement that says NOT ONE SINGLE THING produced by the Yahoo! Media Group has been neither "meaningful" nor "value-creating".

We're waiting.

Eric Jackson said...

Yes, all the Yahoo! shareholders have been waiting for over 2 years. There is nothing to point to. There was also no reason to set up YMG in LA rather than Sunnyvale -- except that Lloyd Braun lived there.

If you want to take shots at me and this campaign, then stop hiding behind anonymity and let's hear your qualifications.

Anonymous said...

eric, if you can't take anonimity, then your try to convey your message in the wrong medium. through reading your posts and people's comments you seem not to have the faintest clue what your talking about. all the best mr. ceo hopefully this helps your business.

Eric Jackson said...

Thanks, and to you. We both have Yahoo!'s long-term interests at heart.

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