Yahoo, a Xoogler, and Wisdom from the Capitalist Tool

March 14, 2016

I recall the good old days at Forbes. The outfit has a stellar information professional. The company decided it did not need a stellar information professional. At that point, I realized that the “real” journalists knew how to formulate questions, obtain information from online resources, winnow the results, and deliver on point summaries germane to the topics the “real” journalists were writing about. That’s when I dismissed Forbes as a source of high value, accurate information. Now when I flip through a copy at the still open Barnes & Noble I have a tough time figuring out what’s fact, what’s opinion, and what’s content marketing or what I am now considering content spam.


Is this Yahoo’s new headquarters?

I did read “The Seven Lessons of Marissa Mayer.” I suppose the information created by a person who describes himself as “the unwritten contract at work” is a “real” journalist, a person with opinions, or a creator of content spam. Let’s look at the analysis of the wild and crazy place which houses the remaining Yahooligans.

The write up makes this point via a quote from Vanity Fair, another “real” journalism publication:

“Most people in (Silicon) Valley want to see Yahoo succeed, if only out of respect for its legacy,” the magazine reported. “And they generally believe that, if anyone can fix Yahoo, it is Mayer. She is an engineer, and engineers are revered in the Valley. She is also a ‘product person,’ which means that she has a track record of designing Internet-based products that people want to use.”

The worm hath turned. I learned a factoid from the New York Times, which is reproduced in the capitalist tool:

“Yahoo is likely to sell for less than all of the money Ms. Mayer spent,” wrote Berkeley Professor Steven Davidoff Solomon in his recent New York Times column. “If she had sought to liquidate Yahoo as soon as she took over and distributed the proceeds, Yahoo shareholders would have fared much better than they will now.”

Let me cut to the cob. Mayer is a loser. But, according to the article, there are lessons to be learned from the Mayer “voyage” to the heart of darkness. Poetry doesn’t make it into the “real” journalism stuff. May I highlight three of the lessons which are, I presume, worth the shareholder value which the current management team has tossed on the bonfire of vanities. (Yikes, there I go again. Poetry.)

Lesson 2 of the seven: Just because there’s a new captain doesn’t mean the ship’s not going to sing. I understand. A flawed design for the Titanic is likely to present some challenges to any captain who sails into iceberg infested seas. (Does this suggest that Ms. Mayer failed to evaluate her engineered RMS Titanic? Quite an error in judgment from the git go, right?)

Lesson 5 of the seven: Rank and yank makes a company tear itself up from the inside. I don’t understand. What’s a rank and yank? Perhaps this is a “real” journalist’s way of explaining that employee reviews resulted in firing people? I understand the jargon “stack ranking,” but the “rank and yank” phraseology is a trigger for some other associations. IBM tries to hide its firing people with the phrase “resource allocation.” Although unseemly, it lacks the connotations of the “yank and rank” lesson. (Does this mean that Ms. Mayer lacks management expertise?)

Lesson 7 of the seven:  Employees will support a CEO who has their best interests at heart and turn on one who doesn’t. Yikes, Ms. Mayer, if I understand the lesson, managed to alienate some of the folks who worked for her. So much for the leadership capability of Ms. Mayer. (Does this tell me more about Ms. Mayer than about Yahoo? It sure does.)

I love the capitalist tool and “real” journalism. Ms. Mintz, Ms. Mintz, how badly does Forbes need you?

Stephen E Arnold, March 14, 2016



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