Brad Garlinghouse is a former Yahoo executive known for his “peanut butter manifesto,” where he criticised Yahoo for spreading itself too thin across too many products, like a bad peanut butter sandwich.
So here’s a surprise: After all the drama that Yahoo has gone through lately, Garlinghouse is bullish on Yahoo’s future.
“In 1996 there was a cover story in BusinessWeek that said ‘The Fall of An American Icon’ and showed the logo of Apple Computer,” Garlinghouse told Business Insider. “What Apple did is what Yahoo needs to do: focus on innovating and new products.”
“I look at where Yahoo is and they can do anything they want. They’ve got thousands of employees and billions of dollars. What they need to do is create a culture that encourages risk and tolerates failure because that’s how you have innovation as an outcome,” he said.
As of today Garlinghouse is CEO of file-sharing startup YouSendIt. But prior to AOL he was a senior vice president of Yahoo, responsible for some of its biggest hits like Yahoo Mail and Flickr. He left in 2008, after Microsoft’s failed attempt to buy Yahoo and the resulting fights with shareholders. He spent some time at Silver Lake Partners, before being lured to AOL by Tim Armstrong into a job he didn’t originally want and is clearly glad he left. He quit AOL in December.
Garlinghouse is more gung-ho about Yahoo’s future than AOL’s.
“My advice [for Yahoo today] isn’t that dissimilar to what I said in the Peanut Butter Manifesto. The company still lacks focus. But Yahoo, in contrast to AOL, is in a far better position. The Yahoo brand still is relevant. The AOL brand, to the average consumer, means dial-up and dial-up is dead.”
Garlinghouse gives Yahoo the thumbs-up for picking Ross Levinsohn as the interim CEO, too. “I know Ross Levinsohn. He’s talented and can be very effective. They’ve had a tough go of it,” he said, but he believes that there’s a good likelihood that can get “some of their mojo” back.
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