Photo: Yodel Anecdotal
Who could replace him?
It doesn’t really matter. Whoever takes over the job is doomed to tread the same path of previous Yahoo CEOs like Terry Semel, Carol Bartz, and now Scott Thompson.
Why? Because in the technology business, you can’t have a professional CEO. You need to have a founder-visionary guiding your company.
Our editor-in-chief Henry Blodget explained why in this week’s New York Magazine:
In industries in which products don’t change much—paint, bricks, chemicals—professional CEOs thrive. Companies in these industries don’t rise and fall on innovation—they depend on optimization. (Think Coke, which has been selling the same core product for 126 years.) The tech industry works differently. “The nature of technology,” Marc Andreessen, the Netscape co-founder who is one of Andreessen Horowitz’s chief partners (and, full disclosure, is also an investor in my website Business Insider*), said at a conference recently, “is that the product is always changing. It’s just so rare that you’ll have the same product in five years.” Apple’s recent renaissance began in 2001, with the launch of the iPod. A decade later, the iPod is obsolete, and a staggering two-thirds of Apple’s revenue now comes from products it has invented since 2007.
“If you put a sales guy in charge of the company,” Andreessen continued, “they’ll optimise for the next quarter. Finance guys will optimise the financials.” The company’s founder will optimise the products—and will often have the vision necessary to drive the company’s future innovation. As for the nuts-and-bolts skills necessary to lead a company, those can be learned.
Arguably, Yahoo could find a great visionary to take over the company and make it flourish.
But in this era where billion dollar companies are built in two years, why would a visionary take a job at Yahoo where he or she is inheriting a bloated corporation, and getting no control and little equity?
If you’re a truly talented, visionary person, you’re better off building the business that will kill Yahoo, not fix it.
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