Friday, June 20, 2008

Confession: Sue Decker hits me, and I’m too ashamed to seek help

It’s true. It’s been going on for a while now, but lately it’s getting worse. I keep having to go into meetings and tell people I walked into a door. Some of them, I think, are starting to suspect the truth.

Worse yet, I have begun to suspect that Sue Decker is trying to push me out and take my job. Like the other day I came back from running some errands for Sergey and I found Sue in my office with an interior decorator. They both took off and Sue mumbled something about just looking for some new ideas. She’s also been dropping hints. Like yesterday she said, Jerry, why don’t you leave? I said it was only three in the afternoon and I never leave before four and she said, No, I mean leave. Like, for good. I gave her my patented Jerry Yang Scowl. She said, Jerry, the board fired you a week ago. I said, No they didn’t, they suggested I should step down, and I’ve commissioned a one-hundred-day study to review that suggestion.

Then she hit me. And now she’s doing this crazy reorg. Just because some dicks from McKinsey told her it was the thing to do. It’s what they always say when they can’t think of anything to say. When in doubt, reorg. Personally I think it’s the wrong move, and I told them so. My suggestion was that we announce that we’re taking one hundred and fifty days to review the organization and then think about how to reorganize. Then Sue hit me. Again.

Oh, she works it hard, with her cute little Meg Ryan look-alike thing. Trust me. It’s all an act. She’s an assassin in high heels.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Advice from Scoble

Scoble just sent over a signed copy of his book, “Naked Conversations” (inscription: Dear Jerry Yang– hang in there!!! Robert) and included a handwritten note of advice which is so good that I am reproducing it in full here. I wish I could scan it and show you the actual note so you could see the loopy, childish scrawl. One bit of perspective: the “lunch meeting” that Robert refers to in his opening sentence? We ran into each other in a men’s room at CES in Vegas. I’m pretty sure he followed me in there, in fact. Our “meeting” lasted just long enough for me to take a leak while he stood at the urinal next to me, jabbering away. Then he trailed me to the sinks and my security guy, thank God, got in between us.

Anyway. Here’s the note.

Dear Jerry,

Thank you again for our brief but productive lunch meeting at CES last January. I was glad to have the chance to share with you some of my thoughts about media, marketing and the Internet, and I was glad that you found my perspective useful. I’m sure you’re busy and stressed out these days but I wanted to offer a little more advice, this time tailored specifically to your current situation. To help you get started I’ve enclosed a copy of my book, Naked Conversations, and I’ve highlighted the key parts and put marker tape on the pages that you should read immediately. Red tape is highest priority, blue tape is secondary, green is thirderary.

Jerry, as someone who has been to Davos and who has spent a good deal of time in the hot glare of the publicity spotlight I believe I can relate to what you’re going through right now. I know just how hot those lights can be, trust me. Very hot! Whic is really not good, especially if, like me, you’re the type who sweats a lot to begin with.

My advice to you, and look, take this or not, don’t feel like you have to do what I tell you or anything, but my advice is to be as open as possible. This is going to sound a little counterintuitive, but it’s my opinion that in a crisis type situation you need to get out in front of this thing. Tell your side of the story and get your version out there in EVERY way available. Remember that you don’t NEED the media! You ARE the media!

You’ve started blogging. That’s a GREAT start. You should be PODCASTING too. Have you considered that? I’d be happy to help you. I’ve got cameras, editing software, etc., and could be at your place in an hour. Also if you need help writing scripts or whatever. Though honestly I think you’re better off just doing what I do and saying whatever comes into your head, just speak the way you naturally do. Yes it’s disjointed and rambling and even incoherent but it rings true and comes across as honest and transparent when when it’s totally not.

Jerry, you need to get out there and win this PR war. The press is against you. Carl Icahn and the other activist shareholders are whipping up a frenzy. You need to answer that in kind with a tsunami of your own. Overwhelming force. In addition to your blogging and podcasting you should be putting up videos on Yahoo (and, I’m sorry, but you should be using YouTube too) plus hitting Facebook full-time and friending everyone you can. The MORE friends you have, the LESS likely you are to get fired. Remember high school? Same deal. Also, get on Twitter and start hitting that HEAVILY. Again if you need help setting up accounts or figuring any of this stuff out you can call me and I’ll come over and get you going. Tumblr is another one you should be using, plus FriendFeed where just this morning I’ve posted more than 3,000 items, along with Bluepulse which I think is the hottest social networking site right now and which I believe will DOMINATE the cell phone video space.

Finally, just FYI, in addition to my work at Fast Company I have launched a communications consulting practice centered around social media, and would be glad to come aboard with you and your team during this period. I’d also be happy to discuss having Yahoo sponsor my show on FastCompanyTV alongside Seagate and SAP. Can’t promise positive press just because you pay us lots of money but come on. When you get to the end of this note, go back and read it again only this time examine the space between the lines. (Get it?)

I hope you don’t mind but I’ll be putting up a video this afternoon covering some of these same points in a kind of “open letter to Jerry” format which I’ll then Twitter and link on my blog and propagate on FriendFeed. Just trying to help! I’m a huge fan. Keep up the great work.


Dear journalists: Leave my anus out of it

Look, okay, I screwed up on the Microsoft deal. And then I made things worse with the Google deal. That’s what you all seem to think. I still think we made the right move and that time will prove me right. You can agree or disagree with that. That’s fine. What gets to me are the cheap shots. For example, to start taking cheap shots about my anus? Totally uncalled for. Totally out of line. I just called our PR department and left voice mail (why does no one ever pick up the phone down there?) telling them that Marketwatch is now on our “do not call back” list.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I’m not indecisive, I’m thoughtful

Roy Bostock just called me and he says, I’ve met with the rest of the board and we think it’s best if you step down. I said, Okay, that sounds like it could be a good idea, but I think I should take some time to think about it. How about if I take a hundred days to do a review of my performance and try to gather some data about my effectiveness and then we can go over that data and try to reach some kind of consensus about where we should go next and what my role should be in order to optimize my abilities.

Roy’s like, No, see, that’s the problem. You’re indecisive. I said, Roy, I’m not indecisive, I’m thoughtful. It’s the mark of a great leader. Then I was like, Roy? Roy? Are you there? Hello? He must have hit a dead spot on the highway.

Meanwhile, much love to Kara Swisher of AllThingsD for writing up her own short list of people who should replace me as CEO of Yahoo. Sue Decker (no way), Meg Whitman (turned us down), Peter Chernin (never heard of him), Marc Andreessen (ixnay), Dan Rosensweig (turned us down) and Mark Cuban (knuckle-dragger).

Kara, sweetie, you’re a peach, you know that? How thoughtful of you to do this for us. And I love those sexy new photos of you on the AllThingsD site (like the one at right). But since you’ve gone to all the trouble to think of new CEOs for my company, I thought it might be a cool intellectual exercise to make up a list of people who could replace you at the helm of the AllThingsD empire:

* Sarah Lacy. Just like you, only younger and more abrasive.

* Jason Calacanis. All of the above. Plus, bigger boobs.

* Owen Thomas. More prolific. Not slowed down by “facts” and “reporting.”

* Marcy Simon. Hell hath no fury, right? We’d have her cover Google, 24-7.

* Robert Scoble. Top choice. Smart. Funny. Great on camera. Plus, the power of his personal brand would take the AllThingsD conference to a new level.

Oh, one more thing, Kara. From one CEO to another, while I love and respect your wonderful little blog, you might notice that for all our flaws, my company has been doing something that yours has not — namely, taking in more money than we spend. It’s called “making a profit.” Have you heard of it? I didn’t think so. Well, try doing it for a few years in a row and then get back to me with your CEO picks. Bokay? Much love. Mwah.

Yo — I’m going into space, bitch

So I was complaining to David Filo about Sergey treating me like a dope and David Filo said haven’t you heard? Sergey is going to blast himself into space. With any luck he won’t come back. The bad news is that he’s not doing this until 2011 at the earliest. On the other hand, between now and then he’ll probably be focused on the space shot and getting into shape and making all his plans. Between that and lifting weights and making his Lego buildings we’re betting he won’t have much time for Google. This anyway is what we’re all hoping.

Side note: Iulia and Natasha are insisting on restoring the punctuation and capitalization to the stuff I write. They say nobody can read my stuff the way I send it to them. Whatever. My feeling is that punctuation and capitalization are a complete waste of time. Who needs apostrophes? Why do they even exist? Or capital letters? The objective here is communication. I need to communicate something to you. The human brain is perfectly able to understand exactly what my sentence means even without punctuation and capitalization. And I can type faster and use fewer characters so in fact my method is the most efficient way to communicate. It’s elegant. It’s spare. It’s minimalist. Is it grammatical? Not at all. You know what? I reject grammar. Why? Because I’m a Chief Yahoo.

Anyway, if these interns want to ruin my flow, it’s their blog and they can do what they want with it.

Funny thing about our deal with Google

First of all we’re not violating any antitrust laws because we were super clever and made sure our deal is non-excusive, and the people in Washington who are raising this stink about antitrust problems are about to get a big chunk of money — I mean, education — from Google.

But one thing that struck me is that I just found out today that the way AdSense works is we don’t actually know how much of a cut we’re getting. We just take their ads and run them on our site and they send us a check at the end of the month, and we trust them to give us a fair amount of whatever they were paid, though there’s no actual way to determine what a fair amount might be. I asked Eric Schmidt about it and he was like, Well, it’s kind of complicated and there are all sorts of variables in the algorithm that determine what a particular ad might be worth at any particular instant in time and it can depend on the search itself and then other variables like the context of the ad and the region where the ad was shown and how far along we are in that fiscal quarter and how close we are to making our numbers.

I was like, That can’t really be the way you do it. You mean you just pay whatever you want to pay, and we’re supposed to just accept that? Eric says, Hey, that’s how it works with everyone else. I started to ask a few more questions about how the algorithm works but Sergey jumped up and said look, it’s just really complicated and even if we explain it to you it’s going to take half a day and there’s no point anyway because the algorithm is constantly being tuned and adjusted so whatever we show you will be totally obsolete by the time we finish explaining it to you. Oh, and besides that, you’re the one who call up and begged us to save you. Remember that, bitch?

I am starting to think that we might have made a mistake. In case that might be so, I’ve asked Sue Decker to organize an internal committee to go back over our decision and review the terms of our partnership with Google and determine if there might perhaps be ways in which we could have optimized our business more effectively to take advantage of new opportunities in the highly dynamic online advertising market.

Check out this face transformer site

Just go here, upload a photo, and you can turn it into any number of variations. It’s a very cool tool created by some friends of ours at this university in Scotland. In our initial tests we tried Carl Icahn and chose “Show true nature” as the transformation we wanted to achieve. Striking, no?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sergey just called me

And he’s like, Hey, tomorrow on your way over here for the meeting, I need you to stop by my dry cleaner and pick up some stuff for me. And then go to the Sufi Coffee Shop on El Camino Real and get me a Turkish coffee. Okay, bitch?

I just looked in the mirror and there is actual smoke coming out of my ears.

Joy of Tech compares me to Churchill

See here. It’s not entirely complimentary, and David says we should sue them over it. My sense is we should take some time to analyze our options and evaluate ways to leverage our synergies and effect change across a broad range of opportunities. Or something.

I didn’t even know we had Ron Burkle on our board

“Activist investor” (read: dirtbag) Eric Jackson, the guy who has been a thorn in my side for more than a year, says he loves Carl Icahn but realizes some big shareholders might not love the idea of Carl trying to run a tech company (gee, ya think?) so he’s suggesting a compromise where big shareholders would vote out only part of our board and keep the rest so there will be some continuity. Money quote: “I am putting forward this `Third Option’ because I fear several large shareholders will worry about the operational abilities of Icahn and his team.”

Eric, that’s the first intelligent thing I’ve ever heard you say. Letting Carl Icahn run a company would be like letting Charles Manson run a day care center. Nevertheless, I’m still giving you the patented Jerry Yang Scowl, because I’m smart and you’re dumb and I’m so bored from hearing you yapping and yapping and saying the same thing day in and day out.

The part that I can’t fathom is this where Jackson says he wants to get rid of Roy Bostock, Eric Hippeau, Art Kern and Ron Burkle. I called up Roy and I was like, Roy, we don’t have Ron Burkle on our board, do we? He’s like, Yeah, sure we do, he’s been on the board since 2001. I’m like, Has he ever been to meeting? Have I ever met him? Roy says he thinks maybe Ron might have come to a meeting one time but he’s not sure if I was at that one. I’m like, So if he never comes to meetings why do we have him on the board? Roy says it’s because Burkle is best pals with Bill Clinton and it doesn’t hurt to have friends in high places.

Lot of good Bill Clinton did me when those dicks in Congress were searing my backside over those Chinese dissidents and calling me a disgrace. Roy says if not for Burkle and Bubba things could have been a heck of a lot worse back then.

Anyway, whatever. Throw out Burkle, or keep him. I don’t care. Personally I’m halfway tempted to just let these idiots like Jackson and Icahn take the place over and watch them mess the whole thing up.