Photo: Flickr/Laughing Squid
Sriram Krishnan is a former Yahoo engineer. He gave us permission to re-publish this post from his personal site.“OMG, did you see that Marissa Mayer is now CEO of Yahoo?”
That was one of many messages I got from current and ex-Yahoos on yesterday’s news. Having recently exited a short stint at Yahoo as an engineering manager and having had hundreds of conversations with employees on what needs to change at the company, I’ve seen both the best and the worst of the company.
The press has many suggestions for big strategic moves that Marissa. Here’s a list of smaller tactical ones she could do. These are deliberately not in any order of priority or, umm, seriousness.
- Marc Andreessen thinks you need to fire over 10K people. He’s probably right. I would start with anyone with the title ‘Architect’ or ‘Program Manager’ in their title. HR is probably another good place to look too.
- Spend $$ in finding great talent all the way down to the front-line product managers and engineers. This will often mean paying some hot-shot 23-year old coder 5x more than what she would make at Google or Facebook and beating ridiculous counter offers. Do it. That one great engineer will be worth more than the five engineers you have on the payroll today.
- Employees and the press will ask you for an all-encompassing strategy to save Yahoo. Ignore them. Put together a small team of the best engineers, designers and product people you can find. Charter them with building something amazing that has to ship in the next few months. Then repeat. Nothing helps morale like seeing stuff you can use.
- Make a huge sign with the phrase ‘the premier digital media company’. Then make a video of you running a bulldozer over it crushing that sign. No one knows what that phrase means. Come up with a goal that people can actually visualise and isn’t meaningless corporate mumbobjumbo. Here’s a suggestion – “A Yahoo app on every home screen”.
- No more BlackBerries as the official devices at Yahoo. Everyone gets an iPhone or an Android. Fire the IT people who protest. Upgrade internal IT and development systems/tools to what modern startups use. Hard to expand on this without breaking confidentiality but every Yahoo engineer reading this knows what I’m talking about.
- Find out what it would take to buy Kara Swisher’s silence forever. Well, it’s worth a shot.
- No roadmaps from product teams looking out over 6 months. Make a poster with the words “We ship code, not slide decks” and circulate it with product management.
- Make a table with the columns ‘Invest’, ‘Maintenance Mode’, ‘Kill’ and fill it up with Yahoo’s product portfolio. Share it with the employees and the press so everyone finds out from you rather than AllThingsD as to what your priorities are. favour the kill column whenever in doubt.
- Institute a policy that Yahoo will use off-the-shelf/popular open source tools and technologies whenever possible. When those don’t meet Yahoo’s needs, teams will fork them and contribute back changes. No more pet projects to reinvent what everyone else in the open source world has already built. Fire anyone who uses the words ‘Yahoo scale’ to debate this with you.
- The coffee bars and the food are awesome. Make sure no one touches them.