Video Interview: Kara Swisher Analyzes the Yahoo! Mess

Here’s ABC 7′s complete interview with journalist Kara Swisher of AllThingsD on the Yahoo! situation. Some interesting insidery observations…

  • Employees are “thrilled” that CEO Scott Thompson was given the boot. “The board acted quickly,” Swisher says. “There was a problem and they fixed it. That’s a good sign.” Employees were “in a lot of pain” over the resume situation, and “the sentiment was not on Scott Thompson’s side.” Swisher says employees were not even hiding their names anymore as they called for his ouster on message boards.
  • Thompson’s departure is a big victory for activist shareholder Daniel Loeb, who publicized the false claim of a computer science degree on Thompson’s resume, and is now on the board.
  • The CEO spot could be interim honcho Ross Levinsohn’s to lose. If Yahoo! decides it’s a media company, then Levinsohn, former president of Fox Interactive Media, has the chops to succeed. But if Yahoo’s still a tech company — not so much.
  • Talent churn has been killing the company. Thompson cut a lot of researchers, which makes it hard to recruit new innovators and could create a reputation for the company as “a place innovation goes to die.”
  • There will be more layoffs. The company has too many employees for its potential growth.
  • Yahoo’s main problem has been with its board. The past few year have been a case study in “how to take a company with amazing assets and kick it in the teeth repeatedly until its dead. This board has been quite possibly one of the worst in Internet history.”
  • Despite all that, Swisher is bullish on Yahoo’s future, and thinks it’s not moribund at all. “People like Yahoo; it still has a really good brand around the world…It’s got some very strong assets that they should be able to parlay into something if they move quickly. That’s been the problem, they’ve been so stuck in their own knitting…they’ve missed a lot of opportunities. But that doesn’t mean they can’t turn themselves around. Look at Apple… [Yahoo!] doesn’t have a Steve Jobs, of course…but Apple was very close to bankruptcy, had a million products and it was a big mess. If you simplify and go back to the beginnings, you really can do a lot.”

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Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

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