Thursday, February 5, 2009

Open Letter to Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz About Knowing What Business You’re In


I’ve enjoyed reading your weekly email messages to the employees. Okay, officially, I haven’t seen them, since I don’t work at Yahoo myself, but I went to your home page and followed the news links until I came upon news stories that quoted the messages in their entirety. It’s nice to know that you’re planning to make Yahoo relevant to the world again.

In your last note, though, I noticed that you repeated how unhappy you were that your messages had been leaked to the press, and said, “I hope whoever did it, feels bad enough to come forward and resign.” I don’t know if you realize this, but you were calling for your own resignation. You’re the one who sent the note to the press.

I know you’re new at Yahoo and still getting your feet wet, but I think you ought to take a few minutes to look at your new company’s home page and find out what kind of business it’s in. It’s so much easier to pump up the farmhands if you know what crops they’re putting in those silos. What I think you’ll find is that Yahoo is the press. Half of the home page is given over to news, and not just company news, but world news, with some of the stories written by Yahoo’s own staffers. But don’t take my word for it — check it yourself.

And so really, if you have something to say that you don’t want the news media to know about, discretion would seem to suggest that you don’t mention it to anyone at all at Yahoo, since everyone in the company, yourself included, is either in the news business themselves or supports or manages people who are.

Speaking of discretion, at a time when the news headlines are questioning executive salaries, suggesting that CEOs such as yourself are overpaid, it could make a better impression if you knew a little more about your own company, you know, if you would spend a few minutes finding out what business Yahoo is in. The way it is now, it gives the rank and file workers who have to check out a company’s web site before they even interview for a job, that CEOs must not have to work very hard, if two weeks into the job you still haven’t gotten around to this yourself. Oh, I know, there are more important things a CEO has to do, like shopping (or “retail therapy” as you so delicately put it), but still, it would help foster that air of diligence and hard work if you would spend just a few minutes on this. By the way, did you know that Yahoo is involved in shopping, too?

Just a suggestion, of course. And one more thing. Other people will be calling for your resignation soon enough. So that thing about calling for your own resignation — STOP IT!