Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

The New and Improved (??) Facebook of Yahoo

The photo montage and guide I did of the Facebook management ranks of late was well received, so it is clearly time for one for Yahoo, if only to aid those completely confused by all the comings and goings in upper management.

One difference compared to the all-male revue at Facebook (I know there are some fine women execs at the social network, but they are not at the tippy-top), women play key roles at Yahoo.

So here’s the latest dream team head shots and a little background on each below the photos:

yang

Yahoo co-founder and now CEO Jerry Yang is holed up on his 100-day vision quest, trying to channel some of the sass and energy of the early days of Yahoo, when life was a purple and yellow heaven of big, wet kisses from the press, a rocketing stock price and no irksome algorithm twins Larry and Sergey.

Those were the days, my friend, he thought they’d never end.

Well, they did–with a thump.

But Yang has been through a downturn before–remember 2001?–so it would be stupid to count him out.

Passionate, serious, often sarcastic (although I suspect that might just be to me and I deserve it), he is not the young fogey he appears to be. Plus, people at the company, for the most part, are rooting for him.

decker

Second-in-command Sue Decker needs no introduction anymore at Yahoo, having engineered the latest management shuffle wherein most key elements–save tech–of the company report to her.

In other words, boys: That’s Ms. Decker to you!

The former analyst-turned-CFO-turned-capo-de-tutti-capi now seems assured of the CEO spot, but only if she can catch the falling knife of the stock and get things a little more stabilized. That means she will be under pressure for results as of yesterday.

Though plagued with the image of not having much operational experience, you might not want to bet against the Harvard Business School graduate.

She is also very aloof to the press–she has shunned interviews for the most part, so far, and we’re all starting to take it personally–and has the formal demeanor of someone much older.

But her pulled-together, plain-spoken, no-fancy-gimmicks style has gone over well with Wall Street and the Yahoos are warming up to it.

schneider

Hilary Schneider got out of the dying newspaper business at Knight Ridder, where she co-managed print operations as well as its digital division, just as all hell was breaking loose and joined Yahoo last fall.

Talk about jumping out of the frying pan into the fire!

But Schneider knows from trouble: She was president and CEO of the once high-flying Red Herring Communications, was president and CEO of Times Mirror Interactive and was at the Baltimore Sun–all of which faced significant challenges.

While some are worried about her lack of serious experience selling ads, most at Yahoo like her a lot, calling her a straight-shooter and easy to work with.

She is obviously a quick learner, although the curve just got awfully steep, even for yet another Harvard Business Schooler.

weiner

Wild card Jeff Weiner just got a lot more under his purview in the latest reorg or, more precisely, got back what was taken from him in a previous reorg.

While Schneider has got all the big money divisions compared to the smaller commerce and local stuff Weiner now has, he also has command over all the consumer-facing properties. Mail! Media! Search! All the stuff Yahoo is much better at than Google (except the search part)!

While some Yahoos insist that the protege of former CEO Terry Semel will eventually leave the company, Weiner appears to have a remarkable staying power.

And given that a lot of Yahoo’s future is riding on the mostly top-notch products his divisions create, stamina will be key here.

jorgensen

Blake Jorgensen is the CFO and he looks like one. I got not so much, as he just arrived at Yahoo, although I did interview him briefly here.

Was best man in Decker’s wedding. Harvard Business School, of course, in this excessively Ivy League group. Former big-wheel investment banker and manager at Thomas Weisel Partners and Montgomery Securities. Serious.

The rap: Never been a big-company CFO. Otherwise, seems to be a team player who will follow Decker’s orders. After all, she was his predecessor in the job.

filo

Co-founder David Filo is often left out of the corporate tussle news at Yahoo, given his quiet and unassuming nature. (True story: I had to spend the Y2K New Year’s Eve night with Filo at Yahoo HQ for that idiotic story and he said about 37 words total all night. Fun!)

But make no mistake, Filo is no shrinking violet when he wants something and he remains the heart and soul of the tech part of the company and a critical symbol to his loyal engineers.

Thus, Filo will be key until Yahoo brings in a new top CTO. Plus, he represents the kind of stalwart continuity Yahoo needs right now amidst all the change.

The rest of the crew: Oh, there are a lot more, of course, but to name a few: mobile guru and resident obstreperous entrepreneur Marco Boerries; new shaking-things-up-a-lot-in-PR’s Jill Nash; controversial HR head Libby Sartain; politically aware Peanut-Butter-Manifesto guy Brad Garlinghouse; ivory tower thinker and funny guy Bradley Horowitz; former Doritos and Cheetos cheerleader and marketing head Cammie Dunaway; and super-duper-nice U.S. ad sales guy Dave Karnstedt, whom I interviewed here recently.


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus