My colleague Larry Dignan as well as many others (see TechMeme) have already covered the news about the management shake up and reorganization at Yahoo. I checked in with Dan Rosensweig, the Yahoo COO who resigned as part the reorg.
Dan and I go back more than a decade. We worked together at Ziff-Davis for many years on different publications and then hooked up on ZDNet. He was the president, running the show, Barry Briggs (now CNET's president and COO) headed sales and I headed the content development and strategy. It was an amazing and sometimes exhausting experience—moving at pre-bubble Internet speed and making it up as we went along.
Dan was a relentless, talented and inspirational leader for ZDNet, as we grew rapidly, went public and then merged with CNET. It was clear that Dan had a big career as an Internet executive ahead of him, and it proved true when he landed at Yahoo in 2002.
I always thought that he and Yahoo CEO Terry Semel were a good team. Semel seems more low key and deliberate in style, and Dan is outgoing and always charged up to tackle the day-to-day issues of running a large and fast growing operation. And, he also enjoyed being on the bigger stage that Semel created at Yahoo.
Dan and I chatted via Yahoo IM, a habit we adopted during our ZDNet days, and I asked why he decided to resign after five years at Yahoo, effective in March next year.
Characteristically he said, “I love Yahoo! They are organizing the right way for the future and I helped design it and support it. They have huge growth ahead. But as I look ahead, there is a lot I want to do and staying on would require a multi-year commitment. I was not prepared to do that given the things I want to do."
I asked Dan what he wanted to do, and he responded with a company line, “Right now I want to set up the company and complete the transition, and then look ahead. We have a great team and they are poised for great things.”
Dan clearly isn't ready to talk about his future plan--he will have fistfuls of compelling offers--or delve into the back stories of Yahoo's reorganization and recent troubles.
Lately Yahoo has seen an exodus of senior executives and the pubic airing of an internal memo, dubbed the Peanut Butter Manifesto, which suggested that Yahoo needs a more cohesive vision, clarity of ownership and accountability and decisiveness. The author of the memo, Yahoo senior vice president Brad Garlinghouse, also said that Yahoo needs sell of non-core businesses and lay off 15 to 20 percent of staff. Dan said the leaked memo had nothing to do with the reorganization, which Semel also claimed in a blog post on Yahoo.
Regarding industry chatter that he and CFO Sue Decker, who will now head up the new Advertiser & Publisher Group, were in a power struggle, Dan said, “Sue and I are great friends and partners. Sue is great as is Terry. For me it was just a matter of what I wanted to do with the next phase of my life.”
Charlene Li of Forrester Research, among others, views Sue Decker's transition out of the CFO office to the revenue-generation side of the business as a CEO-grooming move. "A key challenge: regaining momentum lost with the delay in launching the new search advertising platform. But even more important will be the integration of Yahoo!'s leading brand advertising solutions with search--a potentially powerful and potent advertising offering that ties bridges the consideration gap between brand awareness and purchase," she said.