Separating Jerry Yang from Yahoo is the easy part.
Yang co-founded the Internet pioneer 17 years ago along with David Filo, following the well-trodden path from Stanford student to tech stardom. But yesterday Yahoo announced Yang is leaving, stepping down from his chief Yahoo post and the company’s board.
Yang has overseen, sometimes directly, years and years of weak performance as Yahoo squandered its early lead on the Web. That includes the 2008 drama in which Yang and Yahoo’s board rebuffed Microsoft’s $44.6 billion takeover offer, which in hindsight looks astoundingly generous.
So it’s no longer unreasonable to bet that Yang was once given the heave-ho now that Scott Thompson has taken over as its new CEO.
And it’s now not unreasonable to be expecting the modification will allow you to put in force prime modifications at Yahoo–divestitures, restructuring, personal equity deals, for example. We’re no longer sure that Yang stepping down was essentially required to ensure that a deal to get performed…however Yang’s departure from Yahoo could eliminate a probably complicating factor, Macquarie Securities analyst Ben Schachter mentioned in a no longere.
But there’s a huge difference between evicting one potentially troublesome executive and fixing a mammoth company. I like to think of the challenge as the reverse of the Great Man theory of history.
Individuals are necessary in business, politics, and battle, to make certain, however the great guy thought ascribes way too much importance to their movements in charting the course of history. The deification of many successful CEOs, founders, politicians, and generals is frequently unbattleranted. Too steadily someone is in the right position on the right time, and simply now not fumbling a possibility isn’t necessarily sufficient to justify credit score for changing the world.
Great Man thinking is particularly hazardous in technology, which changes at a breakneck pace. Today’s pie-in-the-sky idea becomes tomorrow’s checkbox on a feature list. A clever videoconferencing idea, attempted too soon in the history of the Internet, is a dud because costs are too high and bandwidth is too low. Too late, and anybody can do it, so adding hangouts to Google+ is nice but not revolutionary. Not everybody can be Skype, which built up a large membership of paying customers by arriving during the sweet spot.
I’m not trying to belittle Skype’s achievements, however I’m yes that if that corporate hadn’t done it, another corporate would have, since the circumstances had been ripe.
Likewise, Yahoo, in its early years, did well transforming from Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle to the starting point on the Web for millions of people. It wasn’t easy, and there were competitors.
In the early days of the Web, Yang got a lot of credit. Today, he’s getting a lot of the blame, implicit in the 3 percent after-hours rise in Yahoo’s stock price that elevated its market capitalization by more than $500 million.
Call it the Great Scapegoat theory of history.
I’m now not arguing that Yang is blameless. What i’m pronouncing is that solving Yahoo will probably be a lot harder than hiring a brand new CEO (the corporate tried that with Carol Bartz, don’t fail to remember), turning over the board, and ejecting a co-founder.
Yahoo remains a collection of thousands of employees. Their collective performance, choices, and decisions helped get Yahoo into today’s fix, and now those same employees must strike off in a new direction to help get Yahoo out of today’s fix. They must be willing to assess Yahoo’s strengths and weaknesses candidly, to see the lay of the land, and to embrace change.
Top management will set that course and decide on major restructuring, but much of the success or failure of tomorrow’s Yahoo will come from those thousands in the ranks, not the very few at the top.