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.