Yahoo! Hates Peanut Butter; Braun's Jelly in a Jam
12/5/2006 11:56 PM PT
Breaking News: Yahoo! announced a major reorganization this afternoon that basically says its grand media experiment is over: Former ABC television chairman Lloyd Braun will be leaving Yahoo! exactly two years after he arrived as head of its media and entertainment division.
The Wall Street Journal will carry the news of the reorganization in tomorrow's paper, and in it, there is plenty to be glum about.
"The changes follow concerns within the company's ranks about its strategy, including a memo distributed internally by Senior Vice President Brad Garlinghouse, dubbed "The Peanut Butter Manifesto." Criticism in the memo, which was reviewed by WSJ, included, "We lack a focused, cohesive vision for our company," and "We lack decisiveness." ...The memo's recommendations included a deep reorganization of the company, a 15% to 20% head-count reduction and holding executives accountable for poor performance. "Heads must roll," it read.
"We want to do everything and be everything--to everyone. We've known this for years, talk about it incessantly, but do nothing to fundamentally address it. We are scared to be left out..." the memo reads. "I've heard our strategy described as spreading peanut butter across the myriad opportunities that continue to evolve in the online world. The result: a thin layer of investment spread across everything we do and thus we focus on nothing in particular. I hate peanut butter."
Braun, to his credit, was fired from Disney just before ABC exploded into primetime, developing shows like "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives" only to see them as hits from his rear-view mirror.
But at Yahoo!, Braun faltered after it became clear the astronomical pricetags associated with producing network TV shows just weren't going to work online. By March 2nd, of this year, the New York Times headline augured his imminent demise -- "Yahoo! Says it is Backing Away from TV-style Shows."
Despite the fact that Yahoo! seemed to be turning its attention, Braun appeared in that story to issue this defiant dictum: "I thought it would be a good time, given all the rumor and innuendo, for me to reiterate once and for all that I am not going anywhere," Mr. Braun said.
Eight months later, it's "Mr. Braun? He dead."
Yahoo! has missed the boat on YouTube and Facebook, and finds itself starring in an "Apocalypse Now" of entertainment media; that said, it's going to take a lot more than firing creative executives to turn the company around.