Swisher: Today’s Yahoo Meeting a Whole Lot of Nothing

Yahoo has summoned a herd of vice presidents to a secret all-day meeting in Sunnyvale to discuss…nothing, says Kara Swisher, who is tracking the “100 Day Plan” minute-by-minute and has found it to be startlingly content free (this is Day 73).  There will be no major announcements, no major strategy shifts, no major firings, no major re-orgs, no major anything.  The only purpose of the meeting, Kara says, is to give Yahoo’s culture “a kick in the pants.”

When you really get down to it, a kick in the pants is what this company desperately needs, so that’s helpful.  Unfortunately, it’s hard to imagine how this “kick” will be absorbed unless Jerry delivers it by prowling through the room with a baseball bat while monologuing about how one member of the VP herd in particular has betrayed him…


First off, let’s set the record straight about this “confidential meeting” of Yahoo’s leadership team–meaning everyone with a vice president or higher in their title. I am not sure exactly how sneaky CEO Jerry Yang and President Sue Decker can be when that means about 300 VPs and several dozen senior VPs, as well as the clutch of tippy-top execs…

But there’ll be no sudden announcement of cuts in, say its Santa Monica office, which has often been rumoured. (Anyway, why do that when most of those properties, save its premium music service, are doing OK?) [Annotated version of Santa Monica head Vince Broady’s memo here…]

As to its also rumoured Project Apex, which will be discussed today too–that’s about three months old already and simply a renewed push to coordinate ads and content to compete better with Google’s similar services. Another good idea, but it’s just another obvious fix that needs to be made.

And, the bottom line:

Probably the most important part of tomorrow’s gathering will be to give Yahoo’s culture a kick in the pants.  I cannot tell you how many Yahoo execs at all levels complain about the inability to launch products and services easily, to make decisions without fear of getting a no from on high, to take the kind of crazy risks needed to succeed (and sometimes fail, which can also be a good thing).