Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Sweet! Mayer Declares That It’s Peanut Butter and Jelly Time at Yahoo.

Remember the infamous “Peanut Manifesto,” in which former Yahoo exec Brad Garlinghouse likened the company’s innovation process to peanut butter?

In it, he wrote:

“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.”

Not new Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who has cooked up a new recipe for the longtime company albatross by sweetening it up.

Thus, yesterday, she sent out a new memo announcing a new sandwich topping to get the Silicon Valley Internet giant moving again: PB&J.

That stands for “Process, Bureaucracy & Jams,” and it is kind of like a city’s pothole alert line, except with more geeky pep.

Wrote Mayer and Patricia Moll Kriese — the ex-Googler who is now senior director of corporate projects at Yahoo — in a memo to employees, in part:

“Do you see a problem and know how to solve it? Want to brainstorm with colleagues about what to fix and how to fix it? Give us your ideas. Or be heard loud and clear by simply voting.”

In the missive, the pair also noted that besides the free food and new Friday FYI staff meetings, both of which I have previously reported on, the new leadership of Yahoo has been busy with some other stuff.

That apparently now includes: Turning off the turnstiles in building D at its Sunnyvale HQ, removing parking lot barriers, eliminating mandatory orientation at the gym.

(Yahoo really has been hopelessly bureaucratic, if it is requiring engineers to get schooled on how to work an exercise bike.)

In any case, it’s another interesting idea from Mayer to instill more ease and transparency to logistical aspects of running Yahoo (except when it comes to talking to media, of course — in that case, it’s awfully dark in here!).

These are important culture changes, of course, but the real rubber hitting the road will be what major execs Mayer brings in from elsewhere to really foment managerial change and innovation.

Sources say that at least one big hire is happening soon, with Mayer looking at candidates from “outside the box” from the regular suspects in the industry.

She has certainly been active in buttonholing important tech players on the subject over the last month, said sources, and asking for their input — from Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to former Yahoo CEO Terry Semel to a variety of others.

So far, her outside hires have been from Google, including Kriese (pictured here). While she had been listed as a project manager at Google, several sources said her last contracted job there was primarily to organize the annual trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, for top execs at the search behemoth. Apparently, Kriese is a whiz with a spreadsheet in marshaling the tetchy potentates of Google, so PB&J seems right up her alley.

Here’s the full memo:

From: Marissa Mayer
Sent: Friday, August 24, 2012 10:00 PM
To: [All Yahoo]
Cc: Patricia Moll Kriese
Subject: Announcing PB&J — Process, Bureaucracy, & Jams!


Process blocking your success?

Bureaucracy getting you down?

Jammed by problems and see a solution? We are looking at how to streamline process, reduce bureaucracy, and remove jams — PB&J!

We’re launching PB&J today to gather your feedback on how to make Yahoo! the absolute best place to work. Share your ideas on what would make your job easier, boost your productivity and help solve problems.

What’s on your wish list for our corporate culture and work environment?

For example:

* GitHub for Code Review

* Dogfooding Yahoo! Mail & Calendar

* SSD’s (Solid State Drives) for faster machines

* Mi-Fi’s (mobile wi-fi cards)

We have done a few things already — free food, FYI, turning off the turnstiles in building D, removing parking lot barriers, eliminating mandatory orientation at the gym, etc. However, we know there’s more we can do!

Do you see a problem and know how to solve it? Want to brainstorm with colleagues about what to fix and how to fix it? Give us your ideas. Or be heard loud and clear by simply voting.

PB&J is available globally on Backyard: http://allhands.corp.yahoo.com/qna/pbj/latest

We will review your ideas and votes, reporting back in FYI each month on
actions taken. August PB&J starts now — and look forward to an update at
the next FYI in early September!

Questions/concerns/suggestions around PB&J, please contact Patricia Moll
Kriese, who’s our lead on PB&J.

Marissa & Patricia

And here is my fave depiction of PB&J, in the fantastically addictive “It’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time” dance:

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