Kara Swisher

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Yahoo No-Sacred-Cow Vision Quest, Day 43: The Reorganization?

Is Yahoo headed for yet another corporate reorganization?

As many of these as the Internet giant has had over the last year, another could not come soon enough.

Yahoo ranks are clearly becoming more restless and increasingly attracted to potentially greener and less volatile pastures, as its co-founder and CEO Jerry Yang toils away on a 100-day, top-to-bottom contemplation of the business he had promised investors he would undertake on July 17.

Sources at the company, including many jumpy employees who have been thinking about leaving, say there will be massive management and division changes soon.

It is all the result of what I have decided to call the “No-Sacred-Cow Vision Quest,” after Yang also promised publicly that no corporate bovines would be spared from his all-seeing gaze.

Although details are sketchy on what any new corporate structure will look like, many employees who have contemplated leaving have been told there will be significant changes soon in the way Yahoo is organized and to sit tight.

exit

But not all of them are, of course, part of a worrisome trend for the struggling company.

One thing is clear: How quickly Yang can articulate a new vision and shape for the company is critical to keeping the right staff in place and, perhaps more importantly, in attracting fresh talent.

Yahoo still does not have anyone as its chief technology officer after the departure of longtime CTO Farzad Nazem in late May, for example, and there are lots of other such critical jobs that need filling.

But this will not be resolved until the landscape is more clearly defined. Until then, expect corporate uncertainty to create even more uncertainty in the ranks and its inevitable result.

Case in point: The recent poaching of Yahoo execs by former Yahoo exec Lloyd Braun, the colorful Hollywood hit-maker hired with once great acclaim to come to the company to create original online programming, but whose controversial departure from Yahoo earlier this year was badly botched.

Braun

Three of his former lieutenants have recently decamped from Yahoo, two to the employ of Braun (pictured here) and one to another company.

Mike Weetman, the well-regarded CFO for Yahoo’s Network division, is leaving for a job as COO of a new production company called BermanBraun, which Braun created with another longtime Hollywood studio exec, Gail Berman.

Weetman will be arriving in about two weeks, joining another recently departed Yahoo exec who also worked with Braun on original content offerings at Yahoo. Geraldine Martin-Coppola now heads the Internet part of BermanBraun, dealing with the unusual funding arrangement it has struck with Pepsi, and which I wrote about here.

And Jennifer Trespacz, who had been Braun’s chief of staff and has since been serving as head of human resources in the Network division, quit recently to take a post at gaming giant Electronic Arts in a bigger HR job there.

Let’s be clear: It’s hard to hold onto talent when trying to turn around any company, as Yang is attempting to do at Yahoo.

According to many there, both he and President Sue Decker are going to great lengths to be in touch with employees at all levels of Yahoo of late, making contacts that many find a good sign of a more rigorous and active management style.

Still, it should come as no surprise that some Yahoo employees are staring longingly at the door, as worries about the future of the company mount. Many sources at competing Web outfits, such as Google and Facebook, tell me they have been inundated with Yahoo resumes of late.

To be fair, some folks who are and will be leaving Yahoo aren’t doing so voluntarily, and that is not the worst thing for a company that desperately needs to separate the wheat from the chaff in all aspects–from products to systems to staff.

And as Yang looks over rehauling the company, some employees might intuit that certain business units might be on the chopping block in part or in whole and are planning their exits.

But a troubling aspect of this whole process means important middle and higher managers–many of whom are needed to pull off a turnaround–seek or get other job offers too enticing to pass up.

So some leave by management design, others by default and still others as new opportunities arise elsewhere as they perceive those at Yahoo drying up.

Who is next is anybody’s guess. Thus, the need for a new structure for the company, which probably has got to settle on one soon and stick with it.


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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google