Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

YESS: Yahoo HR Exec Loses Mayer’s Survey Contest, Gangnam Style

The culture-celebrating hijinks continue at Yahoo, it seems.

After free food and smartphones and even dressing up as a Yahoo purple banger, CEO Marissa Mayer now has a high-ranking exec dancing for employee enjoyment.

As part of an effort to improve participation in the annual Yahoo Employee Satisfaction Survey (YESS), Mayer instituted a punishment for the lowest participation rate of any division on her executive staff.

The culprit turned out to be Jackie Reses, EVP of people and development for Yahoo, which includes the unlikely combo of human resources and business development.

Thus, Reses apparently had to dance to the hit K-pop song “Gangnam Style” with her staff at the weekly FYI employee meeting at Yahoo’s Sunnyvale, Calif., HQ on Friday.

Despite having a rep as an intense New Yorker, said one employee, Reses has some “decent moves.” Others agreed.

Also decent was one of the top results of YESS, which showed that employee belief in the future vision of the company was up 32 points year over year.

That’s not a big surprise, given the upward trajectory of Yahoo’s shares of late. But, more to the point, it has a weak comparable in last year’s survey, which painted a picture of a deeply demoralized workplace. That’s because the 2011 YESS questions went out to employees the week that the company fired CEO Carol Bartz, with most of the responses gathered in the ensuing weeks.

Despite the improvement, this year’s YESS also still showed a lot of worry about whether Yahoo leadership can execute, and whether the company can achieve strong results over the long term.

[UPDATE: One reader said the Yahoo survey is now called YEES, the Yahoo Employee Engagement Survey. I could not determine if that name change had been made.]

That’s the question that at least one Wall Street firm was asking, in a downgrade of Yahoo stock today. In dropping Yahoo’s rank to “market-perform,” Sanford C. Bernstein analysts noted worries about its turnaround efficacy, a possibly jarring reorg of its advertising unit, and also whether the future sale of its assets in China’s Alibaba Group can save the day again, as it did for last quarter’s results.

“We think there may be upside from an eventual Alibaba IPO at a valuation much higher than $50B or a Yahoo! core turn-around, but it is hard to have high conviction in either given the facts we currently have,” said the report, in part. “In addition, there is manageable but real downside risk: reorganization (e.g., of the sales force) could be negative for revenues, management could decide to invest in growth now and cut excess later, and MSFT RPS guarantee could expire without a renewal.”

Those are all good questions for investors to ask, of course, although more have been caught up in the hype/hope ahead of actual performance gains.

Still, it’s no sweat to get caught up in digital execs being made to trip the light fantastic for their weak results. So, since I was not there to enjoy Reses’ performance, click here for an also fun-tastic JibJab Gangnam video I made of her.

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I’m a giant vat of creative juices.

— David Pogue on why he’s joining Yahoo