I guess I’m not the only one who wonders why Yahoo has bought so many things (scroll down one post — and note that Yahoo hasn’t actually bought MyBlogLog yet, but the two are reportedly in talks about a deal) and yet has done such a poor job of actually doing anything with them. Now, along comes some senior VP named Brad Garlinghouse who thinks the same thing, and has written a long memo in which he compares the Internet giant to peanut butter because it’s “spread too thin.”
Like my friend Paul Kedrosky, I have a feeling that Brad’s oh-so-frank memo found its way to the Wall Street Journal in a fairly deliberate way. It sounds very much like something that was written with a public audience in mind, to rally the troops and give the impression that a few noble freedom-fighters are trying to change the company (like Ray Ozzie’s Microsoft memo).
Still, Brad has a point. As Canadian humorist Stepehn Leacock described it some time ago, Yahoo has been jumping on its horse and riding madly off in all directions. Buy Flickr, buy del.icio.us, buy this and that, launch this new thingamajig, get into video, whatever. That’s a good way of giving the impression of movement, but without actually moving all that much. My eye got caught on the same passage in the memo as Fred Wilson’s did:
We end up with competing (or redundant) initiatives and synergistic opportunities living in the different silos of our company.
â€¢ YME vs. Musicmatch
â€¢ Flickr vs. Photos
â€¢ YMG video vs. Search video
â€¢ Deli.cio.us vs. myweb
â€¢ Messenger and plug-ins vs. Sidebar and widgets
â€¢ Social media vs. 360 and Groups
â€¢ Front page vs. YMG
â€¢ Global strategy from BU’vs. Global strategy from Int’l
Brad’s solution? Fire a whole bunch of people, break down the silos that different arms of the company have turned into, and get a few senior managers who know what they’re doing to control entire lines of business, and let them do what they want. Is there any chance in hell that this might actually happen? Not in a million years. Good ideas though.
As Valleywag points out, Brad Garlinghouse is Jerry Maguire. And Ethan Kaplan at blackrimglasses says the memo will come as no surprise to anyone who knows someone who works at Yahoo or who has ever been to its campus.