Here’s a shock: Sue Decker isn’t Yahoo’s new CEO.
OK, so given Yahoo’s performance over the last year that isn’t much of a shock.
But back in 2006 and 2007, it was obvious to anyone paying attention to Yahoo (YHOO) that Sue Decker, first CFO and then president, would eventually run the company.
So what happened? We’ve boiled the Wall Street Journal’s well-sourced hit piece on the topic down to two key points.
Instead of managing Sue liked to create management processes.
In early 2008, Ms. Decker created two task forces. One was dubbed Judo to review Yahoo’s advertiser strategy. The other was called Aikido to review the company’s consumer products strategy. The mission was to determine whether Yahoo should think of itself as an advertising or consumer business, according to people familiar with the process. In an initial vote, advertising won, say these people.
But after months of presentations, Ms. Decker concluded the company should stick to its strengths and the consumer lens, while innovating in advertising as well. Some claimed it wasn’t decisive enough and that the whole experience was a waste of time.
Sue fell victim to her own unrealistic expectations. In late 2007, she wrote a three-year financial plan that made Yang and the Yahoo board feel like Microsoft was low-balling them when it offered to buy the company in February 2008.
WSJ: In late 2007, Ms. Decker stepped back into her comfort zone when Mr. Yang asked her to devise a three-year financial plan to boost the board and investors’ confidence. The plan projected Yahoo would grow revenue 25% in both 2009 and 2010, well above analysts’ estimates of 13% and 11% growth, respectively.
Ms. Decker, Mr. Yang and other Yahoo executives took to the road to defend their three-year plan in March 2008, facing heat from shareholders and analysts who had picked it apart. “The analyst community had a really tough time making sense of the numbers,” says Ross Sandler, an analyst with RBC. Employees also questioned the model’s assumptions — including that Yahoo could nearly double its share of the display market, according to people familiar with the plan.
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