Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Is Yahoo's Peanut Butter Man Toast?

Oh, BoomTown had to say it, didn’t I?

But, as SVP Brad Garlinghouse’s fate is still uncertain at Yahoo (YHOO), his edge-of-your-seat situation is the latest wrenching dramatic shift at a company that can’t seem to stop producing them.

While reports say he has quit, Garlinghouse actually has not done that yet and will not likely make a definitive move to leave for at least a week or longer, unlike fellow Yahoo SVPs Qi Lu and Vish Makhijani, who have tendered their resignations this week.

And, of course, their boss, Network division head Jeff Weiner, who left Yahoo last week.

Garlinghouse’s departure, given all the attention, could move forward quickly, as Weiner’s did, especially given all the tumult at Yahoo. He is Yahoo’s SVP in charge of communications and communities.

So why are he and others leaving?

Sources say Garlinghouse and the other execs are deeply unhappy about the new reorganization being architected largely by President Sue Decker.

Structured now to hand over a lot more power to Yahoo EVP Hilary Schneider, who runs the Global Partner Solutions division, the changes are being made without a lot of input from execs like Garlinghouse.

Instead, Decker–with Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang–is working with a small group of top managers, especially Chief Human Resources Officer David Windley, so a lot of other top managers are largely in the dark about the changes.

This is not a good thing for morale, given that the reorg is likely to take power from the various fiefdoms at Yahoo that execs like Garlinghouse have presided over.

That’s why, unless the balance of power is changed in the new plan, it is unlikely Garlinghouse will stay on, said several sources, much more than a week or two.

If it happens, his departure will be more than ironic.

After all, it was Garlinghouse who got this whole thing started–or at least unveiled Yahoo’s internal problems to the world–with his famous “Peanut Butter Manifesto” in November of 2006.

Taking about Yahoo’s problems, he used peanut butter as a metaphor.

“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.

I hate peanut butter. We all should.”

After insulting the delicious and nutritious spread beloved by children across the U.S., Garlinghouse also talked about the need for change in the now clearly be-careful-for-what-you-wish-for memo.

“I believe we must embrace our problems and challenges and that we must take decisive action. We have the opportunity–in fact the invitation–to send a strong, clear and powerful message to our shareholders and Wall Street, to our advertisers and our partners, to our employees (both current and future) and to our users,” he wrote.

“They are all begging for a signal that we recognize and understand our problems, and that we are charting a course for fundamental change. Our current course and speed simply will not get us there. Short-term band-aids will not get us there.”

No, indeed, they will not, especially when the wounds are now so dangerously deep throughout Yahoo’s corporate body and the bleeding of talent seemingly unstoppable.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald