Sunday, August 03, 2008

What Do Yahoo!s Think? What's Right and What's Wrong at Yahoo!?

Throughout these past weeks of the Yahoo! proxy fight, we've heard a lot of opinions about Yahoo! from lots of stakeholders except one group: current Yahoo!s.

We've heard Roy Bostock and the board defend themselves for the handling of the Microsoft deal. We've also heard Microsoft's side of the story.

We've heard from Carl Icahn, through his colorful letters, and other shareholders including me. We've also heard from Jerry and Sue Decker.

We've even heard from the stock analysts and industry analysts -- even though they have no skin in the game (although neither do some members of Yahoo!'s board -- but Mr. Bostock and Mike Callahan assured us on Friday that those board members now follow a rule that they have 3 years in which to get some skin in the game).

But, we have never really heard from the Yahoo! employees through these haggard last few weeks. Some might argue, they have the most skin in the game of any Yahoo! stakeholder.

For investors, we have diversified portfolios. Yahoo! is but one position in many we hold. For employees, Yahoo! is their livelihood. They have the most to gain if the company turns itself around; and the most to lose if it doesn't.

The press always wants to hear from this group to round out the varied points of view they display in their stories. But employees decline, for fear of their jobs.

Occasionally, you see a comment from a Yahoo! employee leaked to Kara Swisher, TechCrunch, or Valleywag. However, there is no place where a community of Yahoo! employee voices can converge to speak (anonymously) in a way which allows thoughtful exchanges of points of view.

For example, Jerry says that Yahoo! has a plan and is executing against it. I have heard from several Yahoo! employees that execution is (and has historically been) a major problem. Who's right? Maybe I spoke to a few people with axes to grind. Maybe the vast majority of the 14,000 Yahoo!s agree with Jerry - or maybe they don't.

As a shareholder, I sure would value reading their opinions in their full text, unedited. Because, here's the thing: pointing out a problem doesn't make it worse, it helps fix it. If there's a problem, shine a light on it. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

Therefore, I would like to offer this blog "Breakout Performance" for such a purpose -- pointing out what's right and what's wrong with Yahoo! To do so, feel free to comment anonymously to this post. Or, if you prefer, send me an email and I will post several comments (without email addresses) in future posts to this site.

If you like this idea but prefer to share your thoughts on a different site or in a different way, let us know below the means you think would be most effective. I don't really care where the comments go.

Let me strongly state that I think it's important that they be in one spot. When different voices of employees get scattered across Valleywag, Swisher, TechCrunch, Silicon Alley, and other outlets, they lose their power, because most will read only one here or there, not all of them together.

Let's hear from the employees who are the heart and soul of Yahoo! What's right and what's wrong with your company? Feel free to complain if you think it's deserved, but let's also be constructive. What needs to change and how could it change? What specifically should happen to make this company great again?

You tell us. Don't let us tell you.

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