Fortune has an interesting interview with AOL consumer apps president Brad Garlinghouse, who is better known as the Yahoo senior vice president who four years ago last month sounded the alarm that things weren't exactly going swimmingly at the company in an internal memo which became known as the "Peanut Butter Manifesto." (Also see: How AOL is like the Chum Bucket)
In the memo, Garlinghouse argued that Yahoo lacked focus, vision and decisiveness (but otherwise was hitting on all cylinders). His money quote: "I've heard our strategy described as spreading peanut butter across the myriad opportunities that continue to evolve in the online world. The result: a thin layer of investment spread across everything we do and thus we focus on nothing in particular." Quick digression: In researching this post, I found a hilarious passage in a Wall Street Journal article from November 2006 about Garlinghouse's memo. Get ready, because this is going to kill you: Some people close to (Yahoo) argue that its decision not to buy high-flying start-up businesses such as YouTube, which Google recently acquired, or Facebook is a sign of discipline and might turn out to be a good thing. And it sure has! Yahoo was prescient to have dodged those bullets! So what does Garlinghouse have to say today about his former peanut butter-spreading employer? From Fortune: "I think one of the reasons AOL is in a better place today is because the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have a problem. It's not entirely clear to me that Yahoo has internalized and said, 'here are the problems we have.' And if you don't admit you have a problem, you can't fix it." Asked whether he thought Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz's direction or strategy is clear, Garlinghouse replied: "Definitely not." Sounds like, if asked whether AOL should buy Yahoo, as has been rumored, Garlinghouse would vote "no." I suspect he's had his fill of peanut butter.
Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.