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雅虎,你够了!

Shelley DuBois 2012年05月18日

雅虎似乎一直没法消停,这家拥有丰富资产、却在创新方面表现拙劣的公司真正的问题并非战略层面,而是不靠谱的领导层引发的一出出闹剧。眼下雅虎要做的就是停止管理层引发的一出出闹剧,集中精力逆转颓势。

    雅虎公司(Yahoo)或许一直深受标识上巨大叹号的诅咒。这家公司就是消停不了,经常因为种种负面新闻吸引着媒体的眼球。诚然,作为一家大型科技公司,雅虎确实存在各种问题,但对于一家拥有丰富资产、却在创新方面表现拙劣的公司来说,雅虎的转变之路其实一直都在人们的预料之中。公司真正的问题并非战略层面,而是不靠谱的领导层引发的一出出闹剧。

    这部连续剧最近上演了新的戏码。上周日,雅虎公司宣布,涉嫌简历造假的前任CEO斯科特•汤普森同意辞职。据悉,汤普森在简历中声称自己拥有计算机科学学位,而实际上他在说谎。公司找到更合适的人选之前,雅虎负责全球媒体业务的罗斯•B•列文森将担任公司临时CEO。

    此外,雅虎也不得不向对冲基金第三点(Third Point)的维权股东丹尼尔•勒布妥协。丹尼尔•勒布持有雅虎5.8%的股份。二月份,勒布要求雅虎任命其本人以及第三点对冲基金的几位同事为雅虎董事。雅虎拒绝了该要求,结果招致第三点公司一连串的愤怒回应。双方的争执在上周达到高潮,当时,第三点公司宣布,普森简历被发现造假,随后要求汤普森下台。

    这丑陋的一切都发生在众目睽睽之下。不过,对于久经考验的雅虎而言,这不过是小插曲而已。一段时间以来,这家公司一直充满了戏剧性。早在2009年,雅虎任命卡罗尔•巴茨为公司CEO。她在雅虎担任CEO期间虽未增加公司收入,但她确实降低了成本,提高了利润率,这两项都称得上是管理层采取的有力的措施。然而,这些成就在她张扬的个性面前就显得黯然失色了:巴茨经常像水手一样破口大骂,非常难以共事。

    她并不是在雅虎才形成了这样的性格。实际上,巴茨的魅力很大程度上是源自她这种率性的行为举止。如果确实如此的话,当初雅虎的做法必然会引火烧身。当时公司董事长罗伊•博斯托克通过电话炒了巴茨的鱿鱼,之后,巴茨立即通过iPad向员工发了一封满含愤恨的电子邮件,并在媒体面前对自己被炒鱿鱼的事情破口大骂。

    之后,雅虎一直在寻找合适的人选,并最终选定了时任贝宝公司(Paypal)CEO的斯科特•汤普森。今年一月,汤普森接到了雅虎的正式任命。在公布今年第一季度的收入报告之后,汤普森表示自己将在雅虎展开大刀阔斧的改革。他计划裁掉数千个工作岗位,并将公司的重心转移到电子商务领域:在4月10日的公告中,汤普森对员工称,我们将为通过雅虎网站购物的用户带来变得更加简易的网购体验,并使广告商更接近目标客户。

    当时,雅虎已经陷入与维权股东勒布及其对冲基金第三点的纷争。第三点于2011年底购买了雅虎的股份。勒布曾在多家面临困境的公司投资,一向惯于在加入公司董事会之后争夺代理权,以便挖掘公司的价值。因此,雅虎对于勒布应该早有耳闻。

    Perhaps Yahoo! has been cursed by the exclamation point in its name. The company just can't stop yelling, attracting headlines for all the wrong reasons. And sure, the tech giant has had its troubles, but for a company as rich in assets and poor in market-shattering innovation as it is, Yahoo has been following a pretty predictable turnaround pattern. It's the leadership soap opera, not their strategy, that's the problem.

    In the latest in a series of awkward events, Yahoo (YHOO) announced Sunday that former CEO Scott Thompson would resign, amid revelations that his resume included a bachelor's degree in computer science he never actually earned. The company's head of global media, Ross B. Levinsohn, will serve as interim CEO until Yahoo launches yet another talent search.

    Yahoo also capitulated to Daniel Loeb, the activist shareholder at Third Point, which owns a 5.8% stake in the company. Loeb first demanded in February that Yahoo appoint him and some of his other Third Point colleagues to Yahoo's board. Yahoo denied his request, which triggered a chain of angry responses from Third Point. The big crescendo happened last week, when Third Point announced that it had discovered falsities on Thompson's resume, and subsequently called for his head.

    It was all very ugly and public. But this episode is one in a long line of fiascos for Yahoo. The company has been a drama magnet for quite some time. Just look back to 2009, when Yahoo hired Carol Bartz as CEO. During her time at the company, Bartz may not have boosted revenue, but she did cut costs and improve profit margins -- both solid management moves. That was all overshadowed by her loud personality: Bartz apparently cussed like a sailor and was tough to work with.

    These weren't character traits she developed at Yahoo. In fact, Bartz's demeanor may have originally been part of her appeal. If that's the case, the strategy backfired on Yahoo when then-chairman Roy Bostock fired Bartz via phone call, and she immediately beamed an angry email to employees from her iPad, and then dropped some F-bombs to the press about her dismissal.

    Yahoo went on a talent search that eventually led them to then-Paypal CEO Scott Thompson. They gave him the top spot this past January. Thompson was going to make big dramatic changes, he said after the company's first-quarter earnings announcement. He was going to slash thousands of jobs and shift the company's focus towards e-commerce: in a statement on April 10, Thompson suggested to employees that Yahoo was going to make it easier for users to spend via Yahoo's site, bringing advertisers closer to targeted customers.

    By that time, Yahoo had already landed yet another aggressive personality, Loeb and his hedge fund Third Point, which had bought a stake in Yahoo in late 2011. Loeb has a history of joining boards and starting proxy fights to get value out of struggling companies. Yahoo should have known who it was dealing with. 

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