Archive for the ‘yahoo’ Category

On Leaving Yahoo…

February 14, 2008

Leaving Yahoo.

Yes, it’s true. I’ve left Yahoo.

It was somewhat overwhelming sifting through the barrage of reactions over the last 48 hours: “Thanks for all you’ve done”, “How could you?!”, “Congrats!”, etc. It’s fascinating to watch people react. I’ve been taking it all in.

I want to use this post to explain some of the circumstances around my departure.

I came to Yahoo out of a startup that I helped found, and it was my first “real job.” I literally expected to stay there one year. I thought it would be a good life experience to see first-hand how a successful, multi-billion dollar corporation operated. But I never expected to build a career there… to retire from Yahoo… or frankly to stay for a multi-year stint.

But this “park there for a year and learn” strategy was out the window in a day. There was such an excitement at Yahoo, and I was taken aback by the level of passion and talent there. This was no place to “park”. And not aspiring to climb the corporate ladder there made it easy for me to be cavalier, call shit on stuff I thought was broken, and generally do what I thought was right.

What was most delightful is that I never got the expected “pushback” from management. Instead they were the wind at my back, pouring gas on the fire, inviting me and challenging me to do more and more provocative things. So in this manner, nearly four years flew by. I had a dream job that I had the luxury of creating for myself. It was a perfect fit between my inclinations and abilities, and Yahoo’s needs at the time.

The name of the group I created at Yahoo is the Advanced Development Division, or ADD for short. I wanted to be VP of ADD. I was able to retrofit a reasonable acronym back onto the letters and got away with it. I’d generally say, “I head up the ADD group at Yahoo… We work on lots of things, for a little while…” That was generally good for a chuckle… but it’s true, that’s how the group was designed. (By the way, I don’t know a lot about the actual syndrome ADD, and I don’t mean to make light of it. Apologies if I am being crass or inappropriate… not my intention.) The point of this paragraph is simply that as VP of ADD, four years is a very long time for me to focus on anything! I am amazed and grateful that Yahoo continued to create circumstances for me that held my full interest and engagement… and hopefully allowed me to make the place a little bit better.

The question should not be “Why are you leaving?”, but rather the rhetorical “Isn’t it amazing and wonderful that Yahoo created circumstances that allowed you to stay for so long?!”

Starting to thank people is a very slippery slope. Apologies to everyone that I’m surely going to omit, and if you ping me I’ll edit the post to try to atone for egregious errors. These are some of the folks that I feel compelled to call out and thank for making my experience at Yahoo so wonderful:

My heartfelt thanks to Eckart Walther, Jeff Weiner, Qi Lu, Raymie Stata, Prabhakar Raghavan, Kiersten Hollars, Dan Rosensweig, Chad Dickerson, Cindy, Kaigene Jau, Ethan Fasset, Joe Hyrkin, Ellen Salisbury, Marc Davis, Joshua Shachter, Wendy Pfeiffer, Doug Crockford, Tim Mayer, Joff Redfern, Meg Garlinghouse, Randy Farmer, Susan Mernit, Marco Boerries, Paul Levine, Jen Dulski, Lorna Borenstein, Scott Gatz, Gary Clayton, Caterina Fake, Salim Ismail, Ian Rogers, Larry Tesler, Joy Mountford, Irene Au, Zod, Phu, Venkat, Terry Semel, Brad Garlinghouse, Toby Coppel, Stewart Butterfield, Libby Sartain, Andrew Braccia, Mor Naaman, Tim Cadogan, Sam Pullara, Tom Coates, Jeremy Zawodny, Mike Marquez, Jeff Karnes, Pasha Sadri & the Pipes team, MyBlogLog team, Andy Baio & Upcoming, Arlo Rose, Sue Decker, Ash Patel, Jerry & Filo.

This is the tip of the iceberg. Yahoo is filled with brilliant, dedicated folks that have inspired me and been incredibly generous to me. Thank you.

FAQ:

Were you laid off?
Ha, I wish. Yahoo provided very humane (even generous) packages and accommodations for those folks. See next question…

Why now?
The timing is a bit unfortunate. I wish I were leaving with Yahoo on top of the world… it’d still be the right thing for me personally. So while the timing may look “suspicious”, please don’t project your own assumptions onto my decisions. I thought that since so many people were leaving on Tuesday, it’d be a good day for me to slip out unnoticed too.

What about your teams? What happens to Brickhouse?
The teams are in great shape. Salim is also gone, and I arranged to fold the Advanced Product and Brickhouse teams under the leadership of Chad Dickerson. They recently launched Yahoo Live! to much fanfare, and have several more fantastic products in the pipeline. Chad is the man. I have every confidence that the team will thrive under his tenure.

Part of why I feel able to leave is that the teams are rocking, and much of the change I aspired to bring to Yahoo is now baked into the culture. Yahoo has no single-point-of-failure, and I’ve thought a lot about succession planning. Yahoo and the initiatives I started (or care about) are gonna be just fine without me.

So you’ve lost faith in Yahoo’s strategy, leadership, etc.?
Not in the least. I have been incredibly impressed by (and reasonably close to) the improvements and changes that Sue and Jerry have instituted in the past 6 months. While the search for a “silver bullet” came up short (hey, it was worth looking), I believe the management is doing all the right work to align the team to execute on the new strategy. And the strategy itself? I think it’s spot-on, and has already made a huge impact on how the company identifies itself. When I joined 4 years ago, Yahoo was all about what transpired on “*.yahoo.com”. That part of Yahoo now self-identifies as our “O&O” (owned and operated) division… In the context of Yahoo’s larger ambitions, it’s extremely helpful to be a principal in the publishing space (and not just a principal, but amongst the web’s largest)… but Yahoo has transformed itself into a company that participates and embraces the open internet ecosystem at large. Yahoo “gets it.”

So you don’t want to work for Steve Ballmer, eh?
I have no more insight into the current MSFT / YHOO discussions than any avid reader of the NYT, WSJ, etc. Given my trajectory, I honestly haven’t invested a lot of time or energy wondering which scenarios would play out best for Yahoo. I have faith that Yahoo’s board and management will optimize for the best possible outcome.

What will you be doing at Google?
We’ll save that for another post. What’s unfolded for me over the last few months while thinking about my next steps has been amazing and surprising… I’m excited about the my next step, and thrilled I’ll be working with a stellar team that I’m sure will teach me a lot.

Thank you Yahoo!

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Gatz hands the baton to Dickerson…

December 17, 2007

Scott and Chad crosspost and tell the tale: Scott’s story & Chad’s story. I’m honored to work with these guys. Two of the classiest individuals I’ve had the pleasure to know. Scott, you’ll be missed… and thanks for everything from the bottom of my heart.

Yahoo Plugin for WordPress

December 13, 2007

As reported by Battelle, we just launched the Yahoo Plugin for WordPress. This blog, elatable.com, runs on WordPress.

The plugin is very cool. You simply author the post as you normally would. You click a ‘lil button that says “Review this Post”… and all kinds of valuable goodness auto-populates the post.

For instance if I name a place, say Ann Arbor, MI, that’ll be auto-detected and linked to…

If I mention a company, say Hewlett-Packard, then that too will generate goodness (I’ve opted for the badge at left…)

You can read more about it (and get it for yourself) here….

Relaunch of next.yahoo.com…

December 2, 2007

A couple weeks ago our team relaunched next.yahoo.com.

Simply, it’s a place where we can show you some cool stuff happening at Yahoo. I shared more on the yodel blog.

William White and team just launched this very cool embeddable music player there. Timely too… Now instead of just linking to MP3s like I did in a previous post, listening to my old band is now just click away (or even less than a click if I’d selected autoplay…)

Go subscribe to next to keep apprised of what we’re up to over here…

New Pipes release, iPhone support

October 23, 2007

As reported on the Pipes Blog, Jonathan and the Pipes team just pushed a new release with features both useful and cool. I’m especially thrilled about the iPhone support (having just gotten an iTouch, thanks Mr. Hornik!)

In keeping with the endless stream of jokes that name “pipes” inspires, Jonathan created what may turn out to be one of the most important and useful Pipe of all… The Restroom Locator… A tip of the hat to George Costanza, connaisseur of public restrooms… 😉

Major improvements to Yahoo Search

October 2, 2007

Want to congratulate Jeff, Vish, Tim, Eckart, Luke and Tom and the cast of hundreds who launched the improvements to Yahoo Search last night. I’ve seen some folks in the blogosphere underestimate the nuance and ultimately impact of this innovation. Making a change this radical is a bona fide “big deal”, and there is a lot of subtlety involved. I’ve been using it for a bit, and am duly impressed. Kudos to the gang.

Marc Andreessen on Employee Retention…

July 6, 2007

Well, not really. On winning.

I’m loving this post, and did my part to circulate it amongst the leadership here at Yahoo.

Marc’s comments about innovation really resonated for me… People have often misconstrued my group’s mission as being responsible for “innovation” at Yahoo. I’ve always hated this. Once a journalist said to me, “Oh… You guys are the engine of innovation…” I paused and said, “No… We’re the grease of innovation… We’re not about innovating for Yahoo, but rather creating a forum for every one of our employees to become better at their craft.”

That’s what things like Hack Yahoo, and Hack Days are about. A program like Brickhouse is more about giving every Yahoo an opportunity to get their ideas resourced (via something we’ve called a Brickhouse sabbatical), than it is about an “elite” segregated group of individuals doing it on behalf of the company.

Caterina, Chad and I used to always revert to musical analogies. We’re like the roadies, building the stage, working the soundboards, the spotlights, etc. We also provide a “house band” of super talented session musicians. But it’s the Yahoos (i.e. everyone else) who gets to climb up on stage and shine. Caterina, Salim and Scott are like the “A & R” folks at a label – listening for talent that we might want to “sign up” and bring back into the studio for an extended session.

Welcome Jerry, Yahoo’s new CEO!

June 18, 2007

Still digesting the news… but I am extremely optimistic about today’s changes. Surprising myself how much in fact. But you’d need to know me to know this has everything to do with Jerry’s entrance, not Terry’s departure.

I am a huge Terry fan. Frankly I wish I’d had more occasion to interact with him directly, but every time I did I learned something… Terry is a brilliant, subtle, and generous leader… Watching him get beaten up in the press over the past year was excruciating. It was a very painful lesson in the “pile on” mentality of the popular press. It did however have the fringe benefit of forcing me to do an honest inventory of the company I’ve chosen to be at, our assets and liabilities, challenges and opportunities, etc. I’ve got a confidence now that is rooted in introspection. The new Yahoo needs committed, passionate individuals that not only “get it” but are willing to think long-term about the immense, world-changing opportunities at hand… The public thrashing we’ve taken and the weakness in YHOO over the last year has at least served to shake loose those that aren’t here for the right reasons…

Having Jerry as our CEO is incredible… It was Jerry who personally “green lit” and funded Pipes (for instance)… When Caterina and I pitched it to him, he not only “got it,” but explained it back to us in a framework that deepened our own understanding. Having Jerry as CEO is gonna be cool!

Also want to give a shout out to co-founder David Filo, who is 100% engaged (and has been continuously for more than a decade.) Filo just attended Yahoo’s UK Hack Day, where he hung out at the venue interacting with hackers, supporting the event, acting as a judge, etc. Jerry and David are as passionate and involved as any founders I’ve seen at any company – startup or Fortune 500.

Terry, it’s too soon for goodbyes and thank yous… I’m extremely psyched that you’re staying plugged in and will serve as our Chairman in an ongoing way. Jerry, welcome back to (overtly) running your company and let’s do this.

Next Open Hack Day!

May 23, 2007

I’m happy that I’ll be attending Yahoo/BBC’s upcoming Hack Day in the UK! Last year’s inaugural Hack Day was a careeer/life hilight… This one looks to be another over the top event. It’s in a “palace”… that sounds different! Check out the details at hackday.org and on upcoming. See you there.