It was the meritocracy-based culture, the encouraging entrepreneurial spirit of silicon valley where your passion, smarts and bold moves make great things happen – that helped him directly/indirectly in taking Yahoo to great heights. No doubt he made more than his fair share of mistakes (some of which just can not be justified). He has the option to exit, or succumb to the pressures to exit… BUT for the very same spirit of the valley, he owes it to get his act together and get Yahoo back to its glory days.
Most of the articles that one reads these days talk about Yahoo being in shambles, and insinuating that it’s a gone case now and should sell itself off… indeed it is in shambles!, but it’s still worth $30 billion (shareholder value isn’t wiped off), it has 500mm unique monthly visitors, its net income for the first quarter of this year was $542 million – which is three times that of last year, the product portfolio is also good — I mean, it’s a profit-making business, and just a while ago Microsoft did offer to buy it for $44 billion… moreover, the employees don’t really hate Jerry (at least I haven’t come across any post insinuating this). The point I am trying to make is – it is in a bad state, the morale of employees is at an all time low, the media is impatient, there’s huge exodus of some very key executives…BUT, there is hope and it’s not a gone case. Jerry Yang has the choice to exit, or prove his mettle once again – if he had it in him to get Yahoo to the glory once, he now has the opportunity to fight and get the same glory back for Yahoo. He can choose to go down the annals of history as one-time success, or take a shot at true glory (coming back up shining again, after having fallen in abyss from the top)!!
This sounds all emotions.. agreed.. but then almost always truly great acts have emanated from the emotions, the passions, the bold thinking combined with the smarts. I’m reminded of something JK Rowling recently said during her Harvard commencement speech – “…And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” This IS rock bottom for Yahoo, and I truly hope/wish that Yahoo makes this its foundation and that Jerry does it!
“Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it.” – JK Rowling
After Steve Jobs commencement speech at Stanford in 2005, it is the speech that JK Rowling gave at Harvard recently that impressed me a lot. My key take-aways were: importance/benefits of failure, imagination and hope. The gist of what she spoke is well represented in the word-cloud below –
Some immensely powerful statements made by her –
“The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive.” [as the saying goes – that which does not kills makes you stronger]
“…And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”
“…failure meant a stripping away of the inessential.” [failure just rips apart all the clutter… and then all you see is what really matters]
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”
Some other good ones…
“There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you.”
“Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it.”
I read long time back, and now I believe, that when you really look for answers, they just come to you.. I read this speech early this month and liked it.. and that was it. Yesterday, I was just browsing the reader on my iphone and hit this speech again – and there it was.. in my face.. hitting right on at things that were bothering me for a while.. well, not exactly answering my questions, but offering a perspective with which to re-look at things.. 🙂
PS: I made the above ‘word-cloud’ using this cool tool Wordle.