Our friends at All Things Digital have apparently unearthed the latest internal memo from Jerry Yang at Yahoo – this one updating employees on the attempt by Carl Icahn to replace the Board of Directors. Check out the memo here. You’ve got to give Yang some credit for being somewhat candid and timely with employees, but upon closer examination the memo lacks credibility. (FYI – the ATD folks describe the memo as the latest example of Yang’s “keep-your-head-in-the sand” argument.) For one thing, the FAQs are laughingly short and conveniently avoid the toughest questions that are surely on the lips of most Yahoo employees and investors, such as:

  • Why did our stock value plunge by tens of billions of dollars the day the Microsoft deal fell through?
  • Why are Yahoo senior leaders the only ones who apparently see the hidden value and potential of our company?
  • Is there a chance we will reconsider the Microsoft offer?
  • What is the plan to boost our revenue and margins and restore the value of our stock?

For another, Yang does not add much from previous updates to employees. And the “us against them” cheerleading is becoming stale and less relevant by the day. Yang needs to go beyond sparse, defensive statements and lay out his arguments for why the company can survive better without a new Board or partner. It’s possible Yang has already made that case with employees, but if so now is the time to reaffirm his key points and provide a progress report. Is it working? What are the next steps? 

Finally, I suspect Yahoo employees do not see much value in being told (again) to not get distracted by this latest front-page drama. Not get distracted? Of course not, they’ll just keep their head down and continue working despite the fact there is massive media coverage about their CEO’s isolationist position and ongoing rumors about the viability of their strategy and company. Thanks for the advice. It’s understandable Yang wants to calm the waters and keep his employees focused, but at this stage in this melodrama such bromides are likely useless, if not counter-productive. Rather than telling them what not to do, Yang may want to tell his employees what he wants them do…to direct their energy and attention on his master plan for survival, whatever that is.

Stay tuned…. 

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