The latest twist in the Yahoo soap-opera has the company’s Chief Marketing Officer Elisa Steele shaking up operations, and paving the path for her departure.Kara Swisher at All Things D got a memo Steele sent out to Yahoo’s employees on the new marketing structure. And boy does it read weird.
Steele starts off talking about all the accolades Yahoo’s marketing has racked up, before she transitions to the new marketing structure, which is “decentralized”:
1. Regional Marketing: Our regional marketing teams will move to report directly to the Regional leaders in Americas, EMEA and APAC.
2. Corporate Marketing: Our strategic brand, communications and marketing services teams will remain centralized and report into HQ.
Ok, sounds fine enough, but then she goes into this:
This was my proposal to Tim for the best interests of Yahoo! today, and I am glad he agreed with my thinking. I really hope you will endorse and support these changes, too. Yahoo! needs your help and expertise to insure this important next phase is successful.
I want you to know how proud I am of your achievements and contributions. I also want to thank you for the incredible support you have shown me over the past 2.5 years in the current organisation. It’s been an amazing brand adventure and working with each of you has been a great source of satisfaction.
My current role as CMO on CEO staff is unchanged. However, whatever I decide to do next for my career is my choice — and I’ll think about that on my own timeline. First, I will work with Tim, my peers and all of you to ensure a smooth transition — and that is my focus for now.
And that sure reads like someone that’s leaving. It almost reads like, “you can’t fire me, because I quit.”
Steele was brought into Yahoo by now fired CEO Carol Bartz. Without Bartz, Steele could be on the firing line. This feels like a preemptive move to save face.
In August, a former high-level Yahoo employee called us to rant about Steele, saying, “She’s on the top 5 compensated executive list and she has done nothing. All marketing does is keep changing the logos on the business cards. She spent $100 million on “It’s Y!ou” – [and all we got was] that poster with the greased up guy on a skateboard without his shirt on.“
If people still at Yahoo agree with this assessment, then it makes sense for Steele to pave a way for her own departure.