Can a 'Peanut Butter manifesto' save Yahoo?

Summary:Some companies just spread themselves to thin and Yahoo increasingly looks like one of them. It's targeting too many markets and that needs to change, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Some companies just spread themselves to thin and Yahoo increasingly looks like one of them. It's targeting too many markets and that needs to change, reports The Wall Street Journal. That's the gist of a memo by Brad Garlinghouse, a Yahoo senior vice president, who likens Yahoo to peanut butter--it's spread too thin.

The memo, posted on, is worth a read for anybody who resides in a company. Garlinghouse notes that Yahoo lacks:

--A focused, cohesive vision for our company. "We want to do everything and be everything -- to everyone. We've known this for years, talk about it incessantly, but do nothing to fundamentally address it. We are scared to be left out. We are reactive instead of charting an unwavering course. We are separated into silos that far too frequently don't talk to each other. And when we do talk, it isn't to collaborate on a clearly focused strategy, but rather to argue and fight about ownership, strategies and tactics. Our inclination and proclivity to repeatedly hire leaders from outside the company results in disparate visions of what winning looks like -- rather than a leadership team rallying around a single cohesive strategy."

--Clarity of ownership and accountability. "The most painful manifestation of this is the massive redundancy that exists throughout the organization. We now operate in an organizational structure -- admittedly created with the best of intentions -- that has become overly bureaucratic. For far too many employees, there is another person with dramatically similar and overlapping responsibilities. This slows us down and burdens the company with unnecessary costs."

--Decisiveness. "Combine a lack of focus with unclear ownership, and the result is that decisions are either not made or are made when it is already too late. Without a clear and focused vision, and without complete clarity of ownership, we lack a macro perspective to guide our decisions and visibility into who should make those decisions. We are repeatedly stymied by challenging and hairy decisions. We are held hostage by our analysis paralysis."

Garlinghouse goes on to list a bevy of overlapping services. According to Garlinghouse the company needs to focus the vision, restore accountability and sell non-core businesses and cut 15 percent to 20 percent of its workers. What is left will be a company where general managers are empowered to actually run the business units.

Perhaps Yahoo ditches its fixation with Hollywood and original content. The Journal reports that the higher ups at Yahoo are heeding Garlinghouse's call. And they should since he bleeds purple and yellow. This memo highlights what David Berlind noted may be an age of transparency. Companies would be damn lucky to have executives like Garlinghouse around.

Topics: CXO


Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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