There’s been a lot of talk about Yahoo suing Facebook over patents they hold that cover some basic web site and social networking features. I’ve read a ton of pieces arguing all sides. And certainly most of you have seen takes by Mark Cuban and Fred Wilson. Views by two people I respect.
Whatever side you come out on (I’m still thinking about it) the timing is so ridiculously poor it’s hard to imagine what the new CEO of Yahoo, Scott Thompson, was thinking. Some say the timing of this is perfect given the leverage Yahoo may have given the impending Facebook IPO. Ok, that may be true. But that’s not what I’m talking about.
Yahoo is a company adrift. One without a true north. It doesn’t know what it is or what it wants to be. There are internal diagreements over the direction. We don’t know what it is. It doesn’t stand for anything.
Even the tag lines of Yahoo vs. Facebook show us the differences in confidence of direction.
“Yahoo! is the premier digital media company” – What the hell does that even mean?
“Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.” – Now that makes sense to me.
A new CEO must set a direction and get moving. Inspire and lead. This decision makes them look like a desperate leech even if they have a case. Sometimes, timing is everything. This first big move will be followed by a huge round of layoffs. One I suspect could lead to other phases that reduce the workforce by as much as 40-50%.
Yahoo employees are embarrassed about what just happened. Layoffs (I’ve had to do them) and lawsuits don’t inspire the staff to stay, to create, to re-invent a once great company. It also possibly telepaths a strategy of sell-offs, lay-offs and more patent trolling. Not growing and leading.
The site is still huge. Their content channels are often #1 or #2 in their categories. Traffic a start-up would kill for. They do real revenue. People use it everyday. But, we don’t have to have Yahoo right now. It’s not irreplaceable. The brand wasn’t tarnished, it’s stale. But this action, right now, has the power to tarnish it. Especially on the internet where a brand, person or government can be destroyed in a day.
I don’t “hate” Yahoo right now. There are too many good people that work there for that. I am mystified by its actions and leadership.
Protecting your assets is something I normally agree with. But Yahoo mistakenly thought the most important asset right now were patents. It’s actually their audience, their employees and their partners.
The only thing that will save those is to delight with direction, product, content and solutions. If they do that not only will morale turn around, but so will their currently bleak future.
Republish this at will. I won’t sue you.