As a Yahoo shareholder, I’m happy about two things: First, that Terry finally acknowledged with actions that the company has broken down, and, second, that Sue Decker is still on the rise. Whether the changes will be enough to put the fight back into Yahoo is still a question, but I feel like the re-org is a step in the right direction.
People will undoubtedly worry that Sue lacks the CEO experience necessary for her new job (as well as the job she now seems to be in line for–Terry’s). I am much less concerned about this than I would have been had I not watched closely as she took over the CFO job in the summer of 2000, three minutes before the company self-destructed. The way she handled that disaster (which she had nothing to do with), and the way she handled the subsequent purge, layoffs, restart, and rebuilding of confidence with Wall Street convinced me that she is one of those rare people who will rise to whatever challenge she takes on.
The fact that Sue undoubtedly understands the magnitude of the challenge, as well as the fact that she will have to win over doubters both inside and outside the company, is also encouraging. Unlike a CEO from the outside who might regard the Yahoo job as a fun challenge with which to cap off a successful career (see AOL) or, worse, just another CEO job, Sue will likely arrive at work every day intent on proving that she deserves not only her new responsibilities but a reputation as a top Fortune 500 CEO. She understands the company (in addition to serving as CFO for five years, she helped take it public when she worked as analyst at DLJ), she understands the Internet (she’s been covering the industry since the beginning), she understands the old media world (she covered that, too, for a decade), and she has the right skills, passion, and experience.
I should also say that I’m impressed with how Terry handled the whole Peanut Butter Manifesto thing. No word yet on where Brad Garlinghouse will sit in the newly reorganized Yahoo, but Terry’s calm refusal to address the memo publicly, combined with rapid actions that acknowledged much of what it said, strike me as supremely professional.
Photo by the New York Times.