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One Yahoo! Exec: "Jerry Is the Right Guy"

Posted by: Rob Hof on June 22, 2007

Take this as the word of just one guy, but this guy—Mike Speiser, VP of community at Yahoo!—seems to back up what I’m hearing so far from folks at Yahoo: They’re glad cofounder Jerry Yang is the new top dog at the embattled Internet company, whose CEO Terry Semel stepped down this week. During the Supernova 2007 conference in San Francisco, Speiser—who joined Yahoo officially in February after Yahoo bought his company, Bix, and took over social/community efforts such as Yahoo Groups and Yahoo 360—sat down with me to talk more about the new state of Yahoo than he probably hoped.

I’ll just let him talk: “I’m very excited and I think most of the employee base is excited by Jerry Yang. What we need more than anything is product vision. Jerry is the right guy. Jerry is a guy I’m hopeful can do great things.”

Why? “Jerry’s still young. He’s technically capable. He gets into the details. In every email I’ve sent him, he reads every single word and asks very specific questions. He’s well-liked.”

But what about the belief both inside and outside Yahoo that Yang’s a short-timer, even an expedient choice of a desperate board? “Internally there’s no feeling it’s going to be temporary. I don’t perceive that and frankly I hope it’s not.”

So what’s Yang going to do different? Mike isn’t actually sure yet, but for his own part, he says his key job is getting products out faster—and that’s what he hopes Yang will encourage throughout the company. “We need to iterate very quickly” on products, he says. By summer, his group aims to bring out new versions of each of its products every month, some every two weeks, then study the data on what users are doing, then fix problems fast.

Talk is cheap, of course. And Speiser is one person at Yahoo who particularly will need to deliver on those promises. As many people have noted, Yahoo’s best chance at forging a successful path in the Google era—one implicit in its mission statement, to “connect people to their passions, communities, and the world’s knowledge”—is to marshall all those visitors and somehow come up with more compelling social services to keep them engaged. Much more on that from Dan Farber.

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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