Tough-love suggestions for Yahoo from a former insider

Sell off assets, hack staff, dispense with circus atmosphere, advices former Yahoo Finance GM

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Nathan Richardson is the president of Gilt City, a New York-based membership website that offers deals on restaurants, concerts and other services in nine major U.S. cities and Tokyo (with more planned).

Gilt City is fairly new and thus unfamiliar to most people, but in a previous life Richardson was associated with a higher-profile website that made a bit of news this week -- Yahoo.

Richardson worked at Yahoo from 2000 to 2005, serving as general manager of Yahoo Finance, the company's largest (and highly regarded) property. In a Friday blog post titled "What Yahoo Should Do," Richardson suggests that Carol Bartz, who some of you may have heard was fired on Tuesday, "had the right idea" for turning around the beleaguered Internet pioneer.

"She wanted to slim down the company, knew that it couldn’t compete with Google in search and was dealing with a tired board," Richardson writes. "But the problems with Yahoo pre-date Carol, and the solution is much more radical than the current board is capable of addressing."

Richardson isn't necessarily letting Bartz off the hook, adding, "Yahoo requires a revitalized vision and mission that both motivates its staff and inspires its customers. Carol's inability to deliver either was at the heart of her failure."

No argument here.

Richardson goes on to offer "three smart and decisive moves that need to be taken to preserve shareholder value and customer loyalty." Two involve making the company smaller in order to get stronger.

The first is to sell off Yahoo's Asian assets, Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Sports. (At least he's not letting sentimentality get in the way of his tough-love approach.)

Richardson calls the sale of Yahoo's Asian assets a "no brainer" and believes Yahoo Finance, while still one of the most popular finance sites on the web, has become stagnant and has a bloated staff.

His second suggestion is more "tough" without the "love" -- hack Yahoo's employee headcount to 7,000 from 14,000! And who should go?

* Anyone arriving after 9 a.m. and leaving before 5 p.m. more than once a week: OUT
* Anyone spending more time with the baristas than at their desk, meeting with people from areas of the company that have nothing to do with their business: OUT
* Anyone not replying to email within 24 hours 90% of the time: OUT
* Anyone working from home more than one day a week, let them start looking for a job.

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