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The Yahoo Death Watch

Posted by: Rob Hof on February 08, 2008

Yeah, it’s practically a done deal, but despite breathless impatience of many people, mating dances take awhile to result in consummation. Especially when one party not only was hoping to play the singles scene for awhile longer but kind of hates the other party. So as Kara Swisher says, this is probably going to take at least a few more days. But despite the seemingly insane challenges facing the combined company, it’s almost certainly only a matter of time now before Yahoo utters its final yodel as an independent company.

(Update: The Journal’s reporting that the board discussed by phone its options, including outsourcing ads to Google. Directors may meet next Wednesday in person. According to Kara Swisher and CNET, that may be one day after layoffs come down.)

How did it come to this? I guess the facts are apparent: Despite so many assets, from its 500 million visitors a month to what should have been an enduring brand, Yahoo was too slow to jump on new developments, hurt by a byzantine management structure, outrun by a competitor next to which no rival looks good.

I can understand the what. But I still can’t understand why. Why didn’t someone, anyone, from Jerry Yang or David Filo or Terry Semel to Yahoo’s board members, do almost anything else to have prevented this death spiral?

Maybe the air of inevitability that for so long had been building about Yahoo’s demise (at least as an independent company) just reflects the cruelly Darwinian machinery of Silicon Valley. The economic and emotional incentives for people to leap to the hot new thing are so strong here, and that’s what keeps the place vital. In the end, maybe there just wasn’t the collective will inside and outside of Yahoo to resist the pull of the new.

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Reader Comments

February 10, 2008 02:38 PM

WHY no one did anything...? They are all grossly I mean compensated. Why work, when the inner circle just adds tens of thousands of options, matter how inept or comatose. Talk about breach of fiduciary duty...

Keith Dunbar

February 11, 2008 03:33 AM

I use Yahoo, sometimes. I have always wondered why all these mega bucks companies pay their over paid execs with compensation. Why is it called compensation? What have they lost or given up? Have they been injured in some way?

Adam nabi

February 11, 2008 04:05 AM

Microsoft or no microsoft yahoo is in need of major change to catch up to google. It will take a lot of efforts and a year or two to turn things arround, not to mention a lot of money. So if you own yahoo good lock and if you don't stay away for a while.

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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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