Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Leave the Gun. Take the Cannoli: It’s Ring-Kissing Time for Ross at Yahoo’s All-Hands Meeting.

At today’s all-hands meeting for Yahoo employees — in the wake of the dramatic ouster of its former CEO Scott Thompson — what pop culture icon did new interim CEO Ross Levinson use to loosen up the crowd?

Why, a little Al Pacino from the movie classic “The Godfather,” of course — the go-to guy solution menu for all troubles in the world.

Comparing the battered Silicon Valley Internet giant to Don Corleone after a gun ambush, Levinsohn said to the crowd gathered at URL’s Cafe on the Sunnyvale, Calif., HQ campus: “This weekend was like that scene from ‘The Godfather’ — ‘They hit ’im with five shots, and he’s still alive!'”

And also, trying to make Yahoos feel as if there were forward momentum: “There are things being negotiated now that are gonna solve all your problems and answer all your questions.”

Well, let’s hope so, and that it does not end for Yahoo — and Levinsohn — like it did for Luca Brasi (who sleeps with the fishes, in case you didn’t know).

So far, in his first impress-the-employees outing, the reviews for Levinsohn were largely positive on its internal message boards and from numerous sources I talked to.

What they liked: Acknowledgement of the tough past week, but not dwelling on the past, either; a theme of revival and spirit; no PowerPoint slides; and zero direct mention of Thompson.

What they really liked: The whole pile of compliments that Levinsohn doled out to the troops.

No tough-love dude he — unlike Thompson and his predecessor Carol Bartz, who liked to verbally smack around the troops a little more in a mobster kind of way.

Instead, said one person in attendance, “he was appealing to Yahoo pride, which is pretty much in the doldrums.”

Still, one questioner worried about the future and whether the company was going to still be stuck in a leadership vacuum, especially since Levinsohn was not named as the permanent CEO.

Fred Amoroso — who was just named Yahoo’s new chairman and was the only person who appeared with Levinsohn on the stage — tried to assuage that concern by saying he wanted Levinsohn to eventually become the head of the family for good.

While there will likely be a search for other CEO candidates, it is as close to a ring-kiss as Levinsohn is going to get for now.

That is, unless he does not produce some quick results on a variety of Yahoo’s thorniest issues, such as an Asian asset sale and a settlement of the patent lawsuit fight with social networking giant Facebook.

But the over/under on him and Amoroso together was good.

One person said it was important when Amoroso talked about coding and technology and products, which is not advertising- and media-focused Levinsohn’s expertise.

“It was nice to see a board member who cared about products and innovation,” said one person. “Or at least said he did.”

We’ll see how this pair works out together, but always remember this, Yahoos:

Just when you thought you were out, they pull you back in.

Until we know how the movie ends, here is a scary video of me talking about the last week’s events at Yahoo on a local ABC television news station — I look a fright since I’m so tired from covering it all:


Latest Video

View all videos »

Search »

I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik