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Quote of the Day: Let Marc Benioff Run Yahoo

Posted by Bob Warfield on June 14, 2008

I chuckled reading Stowe Boyd on Yahoo’s travails.  He is clear Jerry Yang should be replaced in his post titled (sic):  “Joe Nocera on Jerry Wang’s Yahoo”.   He mentions not thinking Meg Whitman could do much for Yahoo.  I have to agree there, not clear she “did” much for eBay.  It grew fabulously during her reign, but it was a “steady as she goes, damn the innovation, and full speed ahead” kind of reign.  No turnaround challenges there, and she departed just as the troubles started to get menacing enough that it might require some real ingenuity to fix.

How did Benioff come up in this context?  Well here is the money quote of the day from Stowe:

You need a young, hungry and ambitious visionary. Like’s Marc Benioff.

Just one tiny little problem with this theory.  With respect to young, Marc Benioff is 43 while Jerry Yang is 39.  With respect to hungry, I did the math this morning and if Benioff is hungry, it is only because the value of his Salesforce shares are a whopping $1M less than Yang’s Yoohoo shares.  Did I say $1 million dollars in my best imitation of Dr Evil?  I should have because that’s “one million dollars (evil leer)” on a total worth of 1 billion dollars for both men.

I’ve got no problems with Mr Benioff.  His execution at Salesforce has been genius in many ways, but it’s hard to see him as young, hungry, and ambitious at this stage.  Stowe probably meant to original Benioff at the time he founded Salesforce, but it isn’t clear such a personality is really what is needed to fix a giant injured beast that’s lumbering almost blindly through the jungle in its pain. 

Personally, I think someone more like HP’s Mark Hurd would be on point for Yahoo.  Sounds crazy, I know.  So much of the blogosphere wants to get someone hip in there.  But you want the hipsters operating below the level of a CEO that can clean up the business and get it to perform by the numbers.  Hip is not so reliable at that until you find your next hit.  The company has already been bet on one man’s ambitions.  It has some valuable properties that need to be emphasized and that can make the company financially healthy until the hipsters can figure out some new new things.  The hipsters won’t come around until the company looks healthier anyway.  Why be subject to the stigma and negative energy?

But wait!  What about Microsoft? 

I’m really not surprised things have gone this way for Yahoo.  As I wrote some time back, it was over when Yang fought so hard as to make Microsoft feel rejected.  You can agree or disagree with what the Microsofties are doing, but keep in mind they have some very bright people who are quite passionate about what they’re doing.  If you hope to join them, they’ll expect you to salute their flag.

One Response to “Quote of the Day: Let Marc Benioff Run Yahoo”

  1. aleaxit said

    I entirely agree that a Mark Hurd – like leader would be perfect for Yahoo: clean, simple, down-to-earth strategic vision (no need for earth-shaking revolutionary novelties), relentless focus on flawless execution, intelligent cost control, the perception and courage needed to cut “dry branches” (“sideshows” that may be or have been in the past some executive’s “pet projects” but just didn’t pan out and are now a waste of money and attention), direct and effective communication. He could easily double YHOO’s stock price in two years, just as he did for HPQ, or maybe even triple it, just as he did in his two years as CEO of NCR. Unfortunately, there are few operation-oriented high tech execs of Hurd’s amazing caliber, and Silicon Valley does not tend to nurture or appreciate such talent — we, collectively, want leaders that are starry-eyed visionaires always hunting for the Next Big Thing… that’s part of the Valley’s overall ethos. Maybe Yahoo’s board should be looking for the next CEO in the Midwest, just like HP’s did?-)

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