Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Yahoo Held Hostage, Day 44: BoomTown Decodes the Memo, So You Don’t Have To!

Where oh where shall we begin on such a juicy and newsy day for the beleaguered Internet giant–or, as I will henceforth refer to Yahoo, BIG, given “beleaguered” has become the adjective that has been sticking most tenaciously to the company of late.


Well, of course, the big news at the BIG is yet another reorg, this time one that puts Yahoo President Sue Decker (pictured here) in obvious and firm charge of the place.

To recap: In my post early yesterday morning, I signaled the upcoming reorg changes, a report followed by the great scoop by Valleywag editor Owen Thomas of the departure of ad sales head Greg Coleman and ascension of Decker protege Hilary Schneider. I followed with more specifics of the reorg, before it was announced, including more power for Network head Jeff Weiner, and also news of another unnamed ad marketing exec spot created. That was finally capped by Decker’s memo to the troops, which I posted in its entirety.


Phew! It’s like Rube Goldberg of the Web over there!

But before we look forward at what will happen next, let’s assume a day of rest at the ongoing soap opera at Yahoo and try to parse the recent memo Decker sent to the troops:

Sue wrote: Fellow Yahoo!s,

Translation: Nice move right at start by keeping that exclamation point. It’s nostalgic! It’s peppy!! It says, remember 1999!!! It says damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!!!!

Sue wrote: Over the past two months, Jerry and I and the rest of the management team have been taking a close look at our business–from top to bottom–and have been working hard to refine Yahoo!’s strategy and longer-term objectives. With that in mind, today I would like to tell you about a number of organizational changes that will help us achieve our goals to better serve our customers, accelerate the speed of making fast, smart decisions, and create cleaner lines of accountability across key leaders.


Translation: Well, we wanted the full 100 days to think this stuff over (and cause the maximum amount of internal agony), but the annoying press fed by scads of disgruntled employees forced our hand earlier than we thought. Thus, we’ll do what we do best: Announce yet another reorg! We swear this is the last one. Really. Cross our hearts. Promise!!!

Sue wrote: Building on the success that we have had in aligning our sales and distribution organizations around customers, rather than around advertising products like search and display, the two major changes we are announcing today are designed to take this to a higher level. They will also better align our resources and priorities focused on building key audiences.

Translation: We like to use the word align here, as things have gotten seriously out of whack and our consultants tell us it is a calming word. And by key audiences, we mean the ones who pay off, like we are finding in a recent research project I am pushing called Goldmine, wherein women and seniors are big cash cows at Yahoo.

Sue wrote: First, we are placing responsibility for all of our “partners”–advertisers, agencies, resellers, publishers, ad networks, developers, or others–in a new division called Global Partner Solutions (GPS), under the leadership of Hilary Schneider. This new group will be charged with creating, delivering and coordinating global best practices for solutions to all of our partners. Furthermore, this unit will have direct responsibility for our U.S. go-to-market efforts (i.e., sales, marketing and business development) across:

all ad formats, including search, display, video, mobile, listings, etc.
all online marketing objectives, including brand, performance, promotional, and
all customer types and sizes, including large enterprises, small online businesses, and local brick-and-mortar companies

Business development deals for Mobile and content the will continue to be led by Connected Life and the Yahoo! Network Division, respectively, and will work in close coordination with GPS.

Global Partner Solutions will be responsible for segmenting the business needs of our partners into actionable groups, understanding the needs of these segments and our ability to meet these needs, developing holistic business strategies to delight and surprise these segments, and executing on these strategies.

This approach will help us achieve faster, smarter decision-making and improved execution in support of better serving our customers. For example, we will be able to much more quickly identify and secure the ad inventory that best meets our advertisers’ objectives and partner with advertisers that best meet our publishing partners’ objectives as well as provide the most compelling experience to the vast audiences we reach.

Hilary is a strong executive with a tremendous track record of success–most recently in building the Yahoo! Publishing Network and spearheading the Newspaper Consortium deal–and I believe she is ideally suited to lead this effort.

The organizational changes that will accompany this change are to move Global Sales, the Online Channel, the Yahoo! Publisher Network, Corporate Partnerships and Hot Jobs under the single umbrella of Global Partner Solutions. Reporting to Hilary will be David Karnstedt–SVP, North American Sales; Jacki Kelley–VP, Sales Strategy; Dan Foehner–VP, Worldwide Sales Operations; Mark Rabe–VP, Cross Border Sales; Rich Riley–SVP, Online Channel Division; Todd Teresi–SVP, Yahoo! Publisher Network; Jim Schinella–SVP, Corporate Partnerships; and Jeff Kinder–SVP/GM, Hot Jobs.

Translation: A new division with an even more incomprehensible name!!! I wanted to call it the Ad Moolah and the Companies We Can Partner With to Make Ad Moolah Group, but Yang nixed it as too clear.


And make no mistake, GPS is top dog, and everyone better stop bickering and jockeying for power and get along, as there is a new sheriff in town and I shoot first and ask questions later.

Also, with all those reports, Hilary has now officially become Mini-Me. So, although she does not bite, watch out!

Sue wrote: As many of you know, Greg Coleman has been actively engaged in leading the integration of Yahoo!’s search and display ad sales teams and communicating the benefits of our more integrated capabilities to our major clients, who have been very receptive to this holistic approach. This integration is now well underway, and his leadership and expertise have helped enormously to effect a smooth transition. He and I have discussed for some time the need to further integrate Yahoo!’s capabilities in order to better support the needs of our key customer groups.

Therefore, with the decision to create this new Global Partner Solutions unit under Hilary’s leadership, we mutually agreed that Greg would leave Yahoo! to pursue other opportunities. We are fortunate that he will continue to assist us in this transition through February, closely advising the team. We deeply appreciate Greg’s contributions to Yahoo! over the past six and a half years, a period in which our advertising revenues have increased from $600 million a year to more than $6 billion, with substantial growth not only in the U.S. but in Europe, Asia and key emerging markets around the world. We wish him the best of luck in the years ahead.

Translation: OK, we’re not going to smack you publicly like we did ex-ad sales exec Wenda Millard, even after she made us piles of ad money over the years, as you did, as long as you go quietly and don’t disparage us after you go.

And be thankful that it’s not quite the same kind of don’t-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-way-out of previous botched executive departures!

Sue wrote: The second major organizational change we are announcing today is that we are moving the properties in the Local Markets and Commerce Division (LMC), excluding HotJobs, from Hilary’s organization into the Yahoo! Network Division under Jeff Weiner’s strong leadership. As a key member of the executive team, Jeff has held a number of pivotal roles at Yahoo! including SVP of Search and Marketplaces where he oversaw a number of these properties. As a result, the transition to Network should be seamless. Jen Dulski will continue to lead Shopping, Travel, Auto, Real Estate and Local under Jeff and Anna Zornosa will continue to lead Personals. This move will drive further organizational alignment around our key audience properties and result in clearer accountability and faster, smarter decision-making and better integration overall. In addition, the engineering function will also moved to align with the product team and will report into Venkat Panchapakesan.

Translation: That Jeff Weiner still will not get voted off the island or leave it on his own steam, so get used to it. In fact, his tenacity and the fact that I loaded up Hilary with so much stuff means Jeff gets even more, too. As you can see, I am a benevolent ruler.

Sue wrote: Also, in an effort to create better alignment with the core business units, we are moving Cammie Dunaway, CMO, and her Customer Experience organization to report to me.

As a result of these changes, my direct reports now include Hilary Schneider–EVP of Global Partner Solutions; Jeff Weiner–EVP of the Yahoo! Network Division; Marco Boerries–EVP, Connected Life; Toby Coppel–Head of Yahoo! Europe; Keith Nilsson–Head of Emerging Markets; Rose Tsou–Head of the Asia Region; a soon to be hired EVP–Marketing Products Division; Cammie Dunaway–CMO; Jeff McCombs–my Chief of Staff and VP, Business Management; and Greg Coleman (through February 2008).

Translation: Mine, mine, mine, all mine. Plus Jerry might now be able to get in a round or two of golf.

Sue wrote: I know there have been many changes at Yahoo! over the last few months, and I know that change is not always easy. But I greatly appreciate all of your patience, dedication and hard work. As we look to make Yahoo! the partner of choice for our customers and partners. I am confident that we are putting the right people in the right positions to focus on the right opportunities.

Congratulations to all.

Translation: By “change,” I mean turmoil. And by “patience, dedication and hard work,” I mean Job-like stupor. And by “right people in the right positions to focus on the right opportunities,” I mean I hope this is the right recipe this time.

Sue wrote: Sue

Translation: You all realize, of course, no one gets to call me “Sue” going forward.