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雅虎新CEO眼下该走的五步棋

JP Mangalindan 2012年01月10日

一直苦苦挣扎的互联网巨头雅虎公司又迎来了一位新任CEO。走马上任,这位新任掌门人必须做好五件事。

    上周一,斯科特•汤普森正式成为雅虎公司(Yahoo)新一任CEO。接下来,可有他忙的了。

    雅虎曾经是互联网行业的先驱,但在经过一系列起伏之后,包括公司CEO的频繁更换(有些人的离职甚至闹得沸沸扬扬),而且公司净收入已经连续12个月呈下降趋势,今天的雅虎已经不复往日的辉煌。但即便如此,这家公司依然有13,700名员工,网站每月的全球访客数量也高达7亿人次。

    雅虎新任CEO汤普森以注重技术和细节而著称。他在贝宝(PayPal)担任总裁期间,这些特质帮他取得了令人瞩目的成就。在他的领导下,在线支付服务成为整个eBay增长最快的部门,目前占eBay总收入的37%。然而,带领像雅虎这种大型公司实现逆转,是汤普森之前从未经历过的挑战。高德纳公司(Gartner)分析师艾伦•维纳认为:“不论是雅虎内部,还是广告商,或者华尔街,所有人都会密切关注他的一举一动。别指望人们会说:‘给他几个月的时间,让他好做准备。’”

    而汤普森对此似乎也心知肚明。据报道,在上任后召开的第一次公司全体员工大会上,他表示,公司需要投入大量专项资源,用于短期内虽无法盈利,但未来有望为公司带来收益的新服务。在接受《华尔街日报》(The Wall Street Journal)采访时,他说,他的目标是在“相对较短的一段时间内”打造一家“增长迅猛的大型公司”,提供各种像PayPal一样吸引人的服务。

    而要想给公司和自己赢得一线生机,汤普森势必要采取下列5项措施。

摆脱弱者形象

    弗雷斯特研究公司(Forrester)分析师夏尔•范博斯科克认为,雅虎的形象存在问题,并将其比作无缘问鼎的大学保龄球队:人们之所以喜欢这些球队,是因为他们总是处在弱者的位置,而并非因为他们有精彩的表现。她认为:“汤普森需要让雅虎摆脱楚楚可怜的弱者形象。”雅虎总是自称为一家“传统互联网公司”,这种说法无可厚非,但却不够特立独行。这种措辞套在其他的硅谷公司身上一样说得通。虽然这种说法本身是温和并且抽象的,但却会在根本上左右公众对公司的认知,人们会认为这家公司对过去恋恋不忘,而不是放眼未来。而这反过来,至少会降低公司对人才吸引力。如果你是一位炙手可热的工程师,刚刚二十出头,意气风发,面对下面两种公司,你会做何选择:是Facebook这种新锐品牌,还是像雅虎这样的传统公司?

出售亚洲资产

    雅虎董事会正在评估出售亚洲资产的方案,即出售公司持有的中国阿里巴巴集团(Alibaba Group)40%的股份和雅虎日本(Yahoo Japan)35%的股份,雅虎董事会一直举棋不定。过去几年,雅虎与这两家公司一直争吵不休,因此,即便卖掉亚洲资产,雅虎也不会觉得不舍。(去年,阿里巴巴把在线支付服务支付宝转移到公司CEO马云旗下的一家新公司,引发了口水战。)据称,卖掉亚洲资产可以使公司获得170亿美元,使汤普森和雅虎可以掌握更多资金,同时轻装上阵。并且,此举还可以解决投资者争议最大的一个问题。

    When Scott Thompson starts as CEO of Yahoo on Monday, he'll have his work cut out for him.

    Once an Internet pioneer, Yahoo's (YHOO) luster has worn off after an epic string of fits and starts, including a parade of unsuccessful CEO -- some of whom have not left quietly -- and a decline in net revenues over the last 12 consecutive quarters. Still, the company currently employs some 13,700 people and attracts some 700 million monthly visitors worldwide.

    In Thompson, Yahoo will have a CEO known for being technical and detail-oriented. Those qualities served him well as PayPal president. Under Thompson's guidance, the online payment service became the fastest-growing segment of eBay's (EBAY) overall business and now accounts for 37% of eBay's total revenues. But Thompson is a boss who's never had to deal with a turnaround of the size he now faces. "Every breath he takes will be under such scrutiny by everybody, within Yahoo and from advertisers and Wall Street," says Gartner analyst Allen Weiner. "People are not going to say: Let's give him a couple of months to get started."

    Thompson seems to get that. At his first company all-hands meeting, he reportedly told employees the company needs to dedicate a good chunk of resources to new services that might not be profitable in the short-term but benefit the company down the road. And in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, he said his goal was to grow a "really big, high-growth business" in a "relatively short period of time," one with compelling services like PayPal.

    Here are 5 moves he needs to make to give the company -- and himself -- a fighting chance.

Drop the underdog act.

    Forrester research analyst Shar VanBoskirk believes the company has an image problem, comparing them to the college bowling team that doesn't have a chance of winning: you like them because they're the perpetual underdog, not necessarily because they're doing great things."He [Thompson] needs to stop this impression that Yahoo should be apologized for in some way," she says. Yahoo keeps referring to itself as an "iconic Internet brand," which isn't inaccurate -- it's just not unique. The same thing could be said of other Silicon Valley companies. And though it's a soft intangible, it ultimately affects public perception, portraying the company as one that's constantly looking over its shoulder instead of looking to the future. That in turn at least partly affects the company's ability to draw top talent. If you're an up-and-coming twenty-something engineer hot shot, who do you then want to work for: a cutting-edge brand like Facebook or iconic company like Yahoo?

Sell the Asian assets.

    One option Yahoo's board is weighing is the sale of its 40% stake in China's Alibaba Group and 35% stake in Yahoo Japan. There likely would be no love lost over such a deal, given the companies' quarrelsome relationship over the years. (Last year, the two got into a public squabble after Alibaba transferred ownership of the online payment service Alipay over to a new company controlled by CEO Jack Ma.). Such a sale could net the company a reported $17 billion, giving Thompson and Yahoo more capital to play with and cut down on distractions. It would also take one of the most contentious issues for investors off the table.

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